Thursday, 14 May 2009


Last weekend was the only weekend apart from Matron's birthday when we are off to Miami, I was not golfing, so inevitably I knew before we left the UK this was going to be a fraught one as Matron would want to do something inexorably connected to shopping or spending. As last week progressed and her decorating and tiling neared completion, mutterings from the bathrooms included a new dining table and chairs, new lamps, carpets, rugs, laminating all at some stage or other. So I played the Mount Dora card.

Mount Dora is a quaint old-fashioned town north of Orlando about one hour from the villa, with a plethora of antique shops, curio shops good restaurants and plenty of bars. It is one of her favourite places and a must-visit on every trip. Furthermore, because on the weekend of my birthday she had a severe mouth infection and had been on antibiotics and steroids so we had cancelled our planned trip, I suggested celebrating my birthday now. She readily agreed but with the proviso on the way back we visited Altamonte were the furniture shops are...

So we booked in to the splendidly located Lakeside Inn overlooking (not surprisingly) Lake Dora and our room had an impressive vista which took in the lake and showed off the idyllic sunsets - romantic and therapeutic even to someone like me. The place is still as it was in its halcyon days of prohibition in the 1920s and that remains its principal charm although it could do with a touch of sprucing up, it is remarkably good value. For 200 dollars for the weekend, you got a room, 90 dollars in food vouchers and a free bottle of wine. I strongly recommend it!

Mount Dora has not escaped the ravages of the economic downturn and we did notice several empty shop units that previously had been well stocked, and prosperous looking trade outlets at which we had often acquired useless or essential bric a brac for the home, depending on whose view you took. Thankfully, all the local bars and restaurants seemed to be thriving. Firm favourites of ours are The Frost Mug and The Goblins Market. A few years ago for no apparent reason, the Mug relocated in the Mexican, The Mexican in The Irish Bar which in turn relocated at the original Mug Site but as an English Bar. It could only happen here. Two minutes from the centre is the massive Flea Market and Antique Mall, Rennigers. Essential visiting if in town.

As you can tell Golf takes a back seat when visiting Dora, however my research for future visits, shows within 5 miles a bevy of Florida’s finest, principally Mission Inn, Eagle Creek, Deer Island, Plantation, Mount Dora, Black Bear. Purely for research, my clubs will be joining us on my next visit.

America is in the middle of a sporting frenzy as the playoffs in ice hockey and Basketball reach a thrilling conclusion. My local team ORLANDO MAGIC … Go Magic GO GO!!!!!!!!!!!! Are into what I think is a quarter final against last year's defending WORLD CHAMPIONS…THE BOSTON CELTICS. Yes, although primarily a North American competition a few interlopers from Canada are tolerated, only our American cousins would have the cheek to call it a World Championship.

Orlando are, I think, the Liverpool of basketball. A champion team of a few years back whilst Boston more like Man Utd. This week I caught the back end of a thrilling match in Orlando. We had been trailing throughout but took the lead 94 to 93 with a free throw, see I know all the lingo, with just ten seconds of the fourth and final quarter on the clock left. Some 22 minutes later, I kid you not; we are left gut wrenched as the Boston guard with 0.02 seconds left dumps an outrageous shot in our basket.

Those last ten seconds took that long to complete, with full time outs, twenty second timeouts, advertisers have a field day. The phrase it’s never over til the fat lady sings was clearly invented for the American audience, indeed she can sing 4 songs before the last ten seconds play is concluded. Fear not Magic fans I later find out these ties are best of 7 and it’s only 2 to 2. Perhaps Messrs Wenger and Benitez need to mention this to the FA and UEFA. Over 7 legs they may have a chance of deposing the Scots Grandads’ charges.

I decided this week to do a little bit of spending, with my winning prize money from my second place and birthday money, I made the reasonably sensible assumption that my poor iron play this trip is down to my old clubs and so decide to change. I visit a local discount store and go for an entire Adams combination, 3 and 5 wood, 8 irons, 2 gap wedges and a new bag for less than 300 bucks…

I am delighted and off I go to Providence to test my new equipment.

Providence is just five mins from the villa and a fine set up it is too. For just 40 dollars including a compulsory cart there is no finer value in town. I play a reasonable first 9 but after the turn I blitz my American colleagues with a burst of 6 holes I play at one under thanks to a near miss at the Par 3 175 yard 12th were I hit a 5 wood to 7 inches for a tap in birdie, the previous group inform me it lipped out. Never been as miserable over a birdie. Still I end up with an 82 all shots counted, win 50 bucks of my three playing partners, and have not played a better back nine two over since my stroke.

Roll on Southern Dunes...GO ADAMS GO!!! Money well and truly spent, we don’t need a new table anyway...

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