Friday, seeing as we were all ‘parked out,’ saw us hit up Denny’s for breakfast, which was actually better than IHOP and then continue down to Bradenton, where we’d have a few days luxury at Nathan’s aunties house. A trip with Rich driving and Nathan as co-pilot, wouldn’t be complete without stopping somewhere along the route. Today it would be Cracker Barrel. Ok admittedly, the shop was pretty cool as it was sort of olde-worlde. From there, it was straight to the house in the gated community called River Strand.

The house was amazing. It had a garage, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a huge lounge and dining area and a sort of open plan kitchen. It was stunning. The carpet was also so soft! Once we’d emptied the car, we went down to the pool which was warm and pleasant and kept us entertained for a few hours. Once we had dried off, we went up to the clubhouse where Jim served us wine and the best chicken wings I have ever tasted.We had a lovely view of the golf course too. From the country club, we ventured to good old Walmart. Here, we looked round their Halloween section, as they do Halloween extremely well in America.I dread to think what the employees thought of us but it was a giggle. We must have spent a good couple of hours in the shop purchasing nibbles for tonight and then BBQ bits for Saturday. I lost twice at chess to Nathan and we then played UNO which had forfeits including washing up, paying for breakfast and paying for dinner. I hate washing up so Brenda and I switched so we paid for dinner out next. Nothing beats card games on holiday!

Saturday saw us venture down to Longboat Key, the circle and Anna Marie beach. There was clear hurricane damage to vegetation as there were parts of trees piled up along the roads as well as the odd fully uprooted trees.

The circle is a really quirky, posh shopping place which has shops and restaurants all round the edge of a roundabout. There has to be a circus element to it as around the roundabout were also plaques dedicated to specific members of the circus community.There are also statues planted around the roundabout.It was a nice place to spend the morning and wasn’t too far away from the house we were occupying for the weekend. The only downside was that Alvin’s Island, a big souvenir shop, decided to pick Saturday to do its inventory so was shut. Less than ideal. Instead, the circle had a shop full of an array of hot sauces which we popped into. We purchased some fudge from one of the shops and saw some cool souvenirs in a more upmarket souvenir shop.We cruised on towards Anna Marie beach as the clouds decided to form more strongly overhead. We passed another Alvin’s Island which also turned out to be closed. After that, it was what was meant to be a quick pit stop in Walmart to grab some crisps. Nathan and Rich went in whilst the rest of us stayed in the car. They were gone probably forty five minutes. Because they were gone so long, I decided to take the car for a joyride round the car park and move it into another space. If I’d have known they were going to be that long I’d have driven to New York and back!

Back at the house, the BBQ was fired up and the meat began to cook. I must say Rich does do a good BBQ. The rain descended upon us.Thankfully we had shelter in the form of the netting around the balcony! We were due to leave River Strand and head to Key West and Miami but Key West was closed to everyone but residents as they were still clearing up after the hurricane, and our hotel in Miami used the hurricane as an excuse to cancel our booking too. It was only a few days later that we found out Key West reopened on the Sunday.

The day we drove back to Davenport.

Sunday saw us head back to our villa in Davenport but not before stopping for Five Guys for lunch. I mean they truly are the best burgers I have tasted! There’s one back home in Bournemouth so it will be interesting to see the comparison! We some home cooked pizzas for dinner and I started a new book. It had been a relaxing few days away….

Until next time…

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