Thursday, 16 June 2016


Orlando is in the news quite a lot for the wrong reasons right now, eh?

I visited Orlando twice some years ago, but it was to work, not play like the rest of the Brits who were there in their thousands.

Not liking air-conditioning, I would leave the door to my Days Inn motel room slightly open every night, and every night an armed security officer would spot it, come up and ask me to please close it for my own safety. As soon as he had gone, I would open it again.

Then one day, I saw on the TV news that an English couple's car had been completely shot-up in the car park of the Days Inn next to mine, a half mile down the road. There must have been about 200 bullet holes in the thing. In those days, hire-cars had different plates, so were easy to spot. I closed the door to my room from then on.

Then one night, I was standing at the edge of the pedal-boat lake of my Days Inn, listening to the frog chorus, when I spotted a log slowly drifting toward me in the dark. Then I noticed that the log had eyes. Eyes that were fixed on me.

I went back to the Tiki Bar and told my old friend - the recently divorced, middle-aged, Californian barman - that I had just seen an alligator in the pond.

He asked how big it was, and I guessed around 7 or 8 feet, so he said, "We won't bother to report it. They will just shut the lake for a week or so, find the nearest alligator and kill it, then re-open the lake again. All these lakes are connected to the Everglades. You can never stop 'gators from going in and out occasionally."

Another evening, I was on the phone to H.I. (my AT&T bill was $800), when I saw a tornado twisting its way toward my little room. The clouds had come down in a black funnel, and debris could be seen being thrown skywards at its base. I told H.I. that I may have to get off the phone soon (and close the door), but the black snake just coiled itself up into the clouds again and peace returned.

I have never seen rain like Florida rain - rain of biblical proportions in which the road completely disappears and you are forced to stop the car as the water rises to the door-cill from the gushing fountains of the drain covers. Then it stops, the sun comes out, the steam rises and the humidity levels rise beyond a point which you had hitherto thought impossible.

I did not go to Disney World, but I did go to the more 'high-brow' Epcot on the recommendation of my client. I loved it, particularly the cinema which turned into a train which took you back 180,000,000 years to a place where dinosaurs breathed on the back of your neck as you passed by. All funded by oil money, of course.

I wandered through the area which contains a little piece of almost every country in the world, and I spotted an English pub. I could not resist going in and having a look.

It was absolutely typical of the generic sort of London pub which I avoid when in London, and it was full of English men, drinking bad English beer (the good stuff does not travel) and talking English in English accents.

They looked relieved to be magically sent back home for an hour or two, to stand around and forget they were in the U.S.A. as the rest of their families visited China, Japan, India, etc.


  1. We loved that dinosaur 'ride' at Epcot ..... I was gob- smacked when each section of the seating started moving !!!! We have our son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren staying with us at the moment and when I saw your post, told our grandson all about it. We also remember the torrential rain but nothing has come close to a storm on Lake Powell, Utah when we thought that we were all going to die .... We had to hold on to anything for dear life as cars and lorries whizzed by !!!!! XXXX

    1. Where I was working, I spoke to one of the Americans there, and he had helped to build the dinosaur ride! I was childishly impressed, but when I told him that I had worked at the Roman Baths, he didn't even know where Bath was - he guessed Europe.

  2. I now live an hour and a bit from Orlando and we've had some lovely tropical storms of late; as well as a night-time adventure with what turned out to be a false coral snake. Thank heavens!

    Epcot was quite interesting, can't abide any of the other parks... my daughter wants desperately to go to the Harry Potter theme park. *sigh*

    1. I want to go to the reconstructed original sets for the Harry Potter films just outside London here. I really do, but I think I may be just a tad on the old side... Sigh.....

    2. Never to old! Btw, the dime-dropper has followed me to Florida and has even surprised Mom a time or two.

  3. Tom, if you ever come back stateside, do not ever leave your hotel door open. Not just for the varmints but the human varmints too.

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  5. Ooops saw that one of your followers is from FLA so I deleted my comment. Stopping by to say hello in the meantime.

  6. I'm happy to report that I've managed to avoid the whole Orlando-Disney experience. As each of my children turned 8, I shipped them down to my parents in Florida, who stood in lines, stayed up for late night parades, provided room service ice cream treats and sent them home satisfied.