Today we went to see cheerleading in Best of the Bay Cheerleading Competition. I think cheerleading is something very American even if it exist elsewhere.
There was no time for the competition, it only said all day. We arrived when they had prize-giving for a couple of teams. But soon it was on with new competitors.
First team were all young but they had one small girl who was adorable. Entering the hall she stopped to look at the crowd in shock. She did all the moves but not when the others did. Her teammates ignored her and afterwards she was so proud.
We didn’t understand the mix between teams but think they might have been in different levels as there was a huge difference in performance.
Would have loved to see the older teams but we didn’t know how long we would have to wait.
This weekend is a long weekend for Peter as it’s Public holiday and they had Friday off and will also have Monday off. It’s Indigenous People Day which that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures.
We did go to the movie on Thursday to watch the new James Bond movie and Friday was a slow day at home. Saturday we went for lunch with some neighbours in St Pete.
Today Peter was installing a hitch on the car because we want to be able to take the bikes with us more easily than stuffing them in the trunk.
While he was doing that I took a long walk before I made a asparagus and broccoli quiche for us to bring to Picnic Island. We took a short walk in the area before we sat down to eat. A lovely day and the breeze from the bay was lovely.
We did stay the night in Sarasota, we found a nice looking hotel online at a good price. Looked new and situated about 8 minutes drive from downtown Sarasota. We brought our bikes to be able to bike to downtown but due to road works it didn’t work out.
Driving to the hotel I asked Peter if he had booked an Amish hotel. He says no but everywhere around us it said Amish-this and Amish-that. The hotel was in Pinecraft which is an Amish area in Sarasota. The Amish were asked to come and use the land for agricultural reasons in the 1920s and has since become a part of the city.
The hotel was really nice and spacious, the rooms being huge. We had a home cooked breakfast and it was really tasty. I would certainly recommend it.
Saturday we had planned doing the historic downtown but didn’t find it. Well, we found the signs and ended up in what is the historic part. But I guess we are spoiled because 10 houses slightly more than 100 years old was not that impressive.
We decided to head back towards St Pete and instead check Lake Seminole out. Nice park just off a busy area, we unloaded our bikes and biked around the area. The temperature is still high but the humidity is going down which means you can do things without getting completely wet.
When we sold our house I packed some of my kitchen things into our “American” storage and the rest went to the new apartment. I must have, at some point, been thinking that I would bring some of my stuff from the flat as well. Six months later I had forgotten this part and when Peter unpacked our things here he has to buy a few things. Once I arrived I realised I need to add even more. So on Wednesday I went to IKEA – it’s empty!! Not completely but a lot of shelves are out of products. We are still waiting for a cabinet that was supposed to be in again beginning of August and now it’s some time between beginning of September and mid September.
Thursday I met up with some ladies from the base in Hyde Park Village for a coffee. Still restrictions on base for more than 10 in a group. It was nice and it was lovely to sit outside. I’ll surely do it again.
I went to Hyde Park Village this morning for some coffee with other spouses. Rain was hanging around but not more than some drops.
I had to leave early as I had a board meeting at lunch time with Rödebygymnasterna. That went well even if our internet is not very good.
In the evening we were invited to a dinner organised by Operation Helping Hands. The started in 2004 to help and assist families of wounded active duty military. If the active duty is wounded and end up at the Veteran hospital in Tampa the family has to provide for themselves. They will get help from Operation Helping Hands who gets contributions from individuals, corporations and associations.
Due to Covid-19 none of the wounded took part in the dinner. Before the pandemic the dinner was held at the veteran hospital but had to be moved. Maybe it will be different in the future.
Peter and I was sitting next to a Vietnam veteran who’s 84 years old. He did 3 tours to Vietnam and retired after 15 years in the armed forces. It was nice talking to them.
The sponsor of this months dinner was the Tampa sheriff’s office. I didn’t take any pictures of the visitors out of respect for them.
Today we wanted to go to Ybor City and the Cuban Sandwich Festival. We found a parking lot next to 7th Street and found it a bit strange it being empty. Half way down the street I asked Peter if he knew where it was happening as there was few people and no music.
Then he looked it up and it was on the other side of Ybor City by N Nebraska Str and not over by N 21st Str where we parked 🤪 We continued walking and reached it eventually.
If a festival for the Cuban Sandwich means one vendor selling the Cuban Sandwich, one selling shaved ice, two selling hemp products and a few more we found it 😱 After walking 25 minutes in searing sun and the “festival” having no shadow we decided to walk back and have a Cuban sandwich with a cold drink somewhere with A/C 😎
The Cuban Sandwich we had at Carmine’s was very nice.
Peter and I explored a new place today that is located about 30 min drive north of us.
You entered the area and could then choose several different parking places within the area. From the parking you could walk on tarmac or nature trails and even a boardwalk through the marshes which was neat.
The area had several picnic areas – both with roof and without. All easily accessible and could seat quite many.
You can also rent canoes if you wish to share the water with alligators and snakes 🤪
We had a lovely morning out and the afternoon we spent at home enjoying the pool.
Now I have been in Tampa for a whole month but it feels like I left Sweden a long time ago. Life if fairly slow in Florida as we are under new restrictions or rather old one had to be enforced again as people don’t follow them and doesn’t get vaccinated as well. Here they even offers money if you get vaccinated to encourage more people.
Last week we have seen a rise of 300% in covid cases just in our county. Stores and other places ask you to wear a face mask even if you are vaccinated but a lot of people ignores this. Well most people don’t wear the mask correctly anyway but Americans really doesn’t want to be told what to do so a lot of people ignore the request.
I can understand that wearing a mask isn’t very comfortable when it’s 35℃ / 95℉ and hight humidity – I have to confess to having walk through a puddle without seeing as my glasses were all fogged =)
Tuesday we wanted to go to Green Lemon to enjoy their Taco Tuesday but we weren’t the only ones and after seeing the people waiting outside and not finding a parking spot fairly nearby we decided to leave it for another week. Instead we went to Sparkmans Wharf – a really nice place to visit.
From their website: Sparkman Wharf is a dynamic and vibrant piece of Tampa Bay’s downtown waterfront. We’re proud to be one of the top community and cultural destinations in the area, with an effortless blend of loft-style office space and ground-floor retail, along with an intimate dining garden, biergarten, and recreational lawn.The restaurants are located in shipping containers. No entertainment this evening but still it was nice.
Yesterday we went to a preseason game of football and to see the Superbowl Champions. I like to watch American football as it is called in Europe but this game was no good. They did NOT play as champions – it felt more like a practice game. Next time we will try to get tickets for when it is a college game.
Even if the arena wasn’t full it is so different to watch a game live or on TV. The atmosphere, the smell and the sound – hard to describe unless you have experienced it. It was the same going to Wembley Stadium or Vicarage Rd Stadium for a soccer (football) game or Twickenham for rugby – it makes a huge difference.
We were waiting for a hurricane to come up from the Caribbean but it took another direction and missed us but today we have no sun at all but still 28℃ / 82℉ outside.
Today I was invited to a welcome lunch by the neighbouring ladies. We went to Salt Shack by the Bay where the setting is wonderful, outside seating and lovely food.
After soaking in the pool for a while we decided to go downtown and take a walk along the Riverwalk.
At the end of it is Armature Works which is an old building from 1910 where the maintenance and storage for Tampa’s Street Cars use to be. Now it has turned in to a mixed-use commercial building which also hosts several restaurants and a large food court.
Arriving at the Armature Works we decided to have dinner there. It was hard to choose what to eat and we will have to go back again to try more 😉
This weekend we also drove to Coppertail Brewery Co. The brewery opened in 2014 in Ybor and they have about 20 different taps. You can eat there as well as book a guided tour in the brewery. We will do that at one point I think – this weekend it was just a short outing.
I’ve now been here for 17 days but it feels longer. We have had some rain but the weekend have been dry and warm so far.
The other day we went for an ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery where they mix the flavours while you watch – very tasty.
I had Banana Caramel Crunch 😋
And tonight we went to a local outdoor restaurant called Big Ray’s Fish camp and I had blackened Grouper Cheek salad. Grouper belongs to the same family of fish as sea bass and lives in warm salt water. It was very nice but a huge portion. The girl taking our order asked if we were Swedish – she too and she thought she recognised the language. She moved here 10 years ago with her family.
On Sunday we went east to see some alligators. At Circle B Bar Reserve by Lake Hancock you can walk the trails and you will come across alligators.
The trail were you’re most likely to see them was closed today due to them nesting. You’re not recommended to come between an alligator mama and her baby. We saw one gator, a raccoon, a sunbathing turtle and several birds.
The walk was warm but still nice – in and out of the shadow from the trees and some breeze.
Today we went to Ybor City (pronounced Eebor) which is located northeast of downtown Tampa. We were lucky to have some clouds while walking down 7th Street but it was still HOT!!!
Ybor City is a National Historic Landmark District and founded by Vicente Martinez-Ybor in the 1880s. He along several other cigar manufacturers as well as immigrants from mainly Cuba, Spain and Italy.
7th Street is the home of several restaurants or cigar shops. Ybor City was unique in the south as a successful town almost entirely populated and owned by immigrants.
We also tried the street car which you can take from Ybor City and down to downtown Tampa and back.
Today I went to my first coffee morning with the other spouses. It was the first in a long time apparently as the last one they had was in March last year a couple of days before the base went in lockdown as well as rest of Tampa.
The afternoon was spent in the pool – even I’m starting to enjoy it. Went in twice today 😊
Yeah, today I took the car and went shopping myself.
I found my way there and back but not like Peter showed me 🤪 I was so focused on finding the way avoiding the larger street that I missed it and had to take the larger road. Was easy going there but coming back I couldn’t remember the name of the street I was supposed to be taking so I found a new way 😊
Now Peter and I have started our next adventure in Tampa. Peter actually arrived already in February. He was home for two weeks to see family and friends and we travelled back together.
The flight between Copenhagen and Washington was long and boring but on time and went smoothly. We had a few hours at Dulles before heading south and everything went nicely until everyone was seated it was time for take off. Apparently a hatch was broken and needed to be fixed and then approved before we could take off. That took three hours sitting in the plane waiting and a two hour flight all of a sudden became a five hour flight. Glad to be picked up at the airport and driven straight home. We went straight to bed and by then we had been up for 24 hours. Not much sleep on the flights either even if the Atlantic flight wasn’t fully booked.
First day was driving around to learn how to find my way around. The street system is fairly easy to remember and traffic similar to London. We also saw some of downtown Tampa before we went grocery shopping.
The next day Peter worked but came home to get me to fix a ID at the MacDill AFB and then later meeting the bank to get a debit card. Later in the evening we took Peter’s assistance to the airport.
Saturday we went to St Petersburg to sign the papers for Peter’s motorbike which should have been delivered several weeks ago. But due to the pandemic the factory had problems to build it in time. We had lunch at the beach and it really felt like being back in Mombasa. Not the best food (good enough) but the atmosphere makes up for it.
Today I drove for the first time and did find my way to both places we were going and without the navigator.
We have now been here for 3,5 years or rather 1333 days, we have been travelling to Wales, Scotland, Cornwall as well as other places in England. All together we have made about 440 outings while we’ve been here, met a lot of people and gained new friends.
We have enjoyed being here and would have loved to stay longer – we haven’t done everything yet =) But it is time to leave, Felicia have finished her GCSC, Emelie want to apply for university, I have got a permanent position at the school I want to work at and Peter has been offered a really good job back home. It will be nice to be closer to family and old friends but we will be back and visit those of our friends who are still here. The other friends we will visit where they may end up and they are always welcome to come visit us in Sweden.
In a few hours, we are driving on to the ferry taking us to Hook of Holland and tomorrow morning we are driving back to our house. Thank you, UK, for a lovely time and we will never forget you – we will come back and enjoy you even more.
Our last outing in UK before heading back to Sweden, Buckingham Palace is only open during the summer when the Queen is not living there. The palace was called Buckingham House when it was built in 1761 by George III for his wife Queen Charlotte. In 1826, it was changed into a palace and Queen Victoria moved in 1837 and since it has been the official residence for the royal family.
The palace has 775 rooms and include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. As the Queen is not at the palace everything has been changed into a display area to also show some of the gifts she has received over the 60 years as a reign.
We also went to the Royal Mews to see the carriages and coaches and we also saw 4 of the horses. They run transportation for the royal family by both cars and horse drawn carriage. They also still train the horses that are used for pulling the royal carriages.
At the mews, we could take pictures but at the palace we weren’t so the pictures are borrowed.
Today the girls and I had a day at Natural History Museum, Science Museum and V&A Museum. Peter was also supposed to come along but as we are moving in a few days he was fitting the car roof box yesterday and saw that the fittings don’t match the roof rack…. Well he didn’t look very sad when we left him.
All museums are too big to do all of it and frankly 3000 stones don’t interest me that much. At the Natural History Museum, we saw the dinosaurs and the earth exhibition and at Science we did Engineer you future and Who am I but wanted to do Mathematics: The Winton Gallery as well but didn’t want to go up the stairs again when we came down.
We took a quick visit to V&A Museum as well but by then the girls where done with museums and we left. They did have energy for some shopping so we went to do that before returning home. A nice but warm day!
Today I had booked a visit to the Battle of Britain bunker in Uxbridge for Peter, some colleagues and friends. The only reason this bunker has been preserved is because it was still used up until 1974 when it was closed but someone was clever enough to suggest it would be kept as a memory of the battle.
We saw the table where they had some idea of where the enemy’s and their own planes where, how it was done and everyone’s duty, visitors such as Churchill and all the activities going on. We also saw a documentary done in 1990 with pilots that was on active duty during the battle. Sadly, they are no longer around but it’s great that they did the recording when they did.
When we were done our group went for lunch at the White Bear in Ruislip where we had a lovely lunch before everyone had to head back to work or free time.
After been to the Middle Temple Hall and seen the impressing hall, where they serve lunch every day for members and guests, we decided to go there for lunch. It was a three-course lunch and a salad buffet as well – today they served pumpkin soup or pea soup as a starter, for the main course you could choose between steak with roasted potatoes, fish & chips or a vegetarian dish and for dessert there where 3 different cakes (chocolate, lemon and carrot) as well as fresh fruit and berries. If we could have eaten more we could also have cheese.
The lady who showed us to our seats became our private informer, we asked her several questions about the hall but also about the main table and the only table with a white tablecloth. It is only high court judges who are allowed to sit by the main table and if they want to have lunch with their wife or other guests they have to sit by the table with the white table cloth.
From its conception Spencer House was recognised as one of the most ambitious and splendid private palaces ever built in London and is today the city’s only great eighteenth-century house to survive intact.
They started building it 1756 and was done by 1766, the 1st Earl of Spencer ordered it and the land is still owned by the Spencer family (Lady Diana’s family).
Today I visited Ben Franklin house, where Benjamin Franklin lived between 1757 and 1775. While lodging at 36 Craven Street, Franklin’s main occupation was mediating unrest between Britain and America, but he also served as Deputy Postmaster for the Colonies; pursued his love of science (exploring bifocal spectacles, the energy-saving Franklin stove); explored health (inoculation, air baths, cures for the common cold); music (inventing the glass armonica for which Mozart, Bach and Beethoven composed) and letters (articles, epitaphs, and his witty Craven Street Gazette), all while forging a hearty social life and close friendships with leading figures of the day.
Today I visited Middle Temple Hall which is one of the four ancient Inns of Court. Inns of Court are the professional associations for barristers (lawyers) in England and Wales. All barristers must belong to one such association. They have supervisory and disciplinary functions over their members. The Inns also provide libraries, dining facilities and professional accommodation. It is a self-contained precinct where barristers traditionally train and practice.
Middle Temple Hall was built between 1562 and 1573 and remains virtually unchanged to this day having survived the Great Fire of London and both World Wars. Middle Temple has one of the finest examples of an Elizabethan hall in the England with a double hammer beam roof carved from the oak of Windsor Forest and an elaborately carved screen made in 1574.
It was a fantastic tour and I will go back to have lunch there and make sure I visit the Temple Church nearby.
Today Peter and I went on a guided tour at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
Whitechapel Bell Foundry, known to be established in 1570, is the oldest manufacturing company in the UK. Bells of all sorts and sizes are manufactured, ranging from large church bells to musical hand bells, ship’s bells, level crossing warning bells, and a wide range of small bells for domestic clocks, pocket watches and musical boxes.
Two very famous bells came from this Bell Foundry: A bell originally cast at the Foundry in 1752 for the State House in Philadelphia and later known as the Liberty Bell and in 1858 they cast Big Ben, a 13,5-ton hour Bell at the Palace of Westminster.
We went to visit the Poppy Factory in Richmond who supports ex-servicemen/women who has been injured or disabled in war. They get help to find a new career and some of them work in the factory but they do help a lot more.
It’s a charity and has been around since 1922 when they started by helping the servicemen returning from World war 1. They make the royal wreaths and other wreaths that are laid down on Remembrance Sunday.
It was really interesting to listen to and really nice to see how the poppies are made – we even got to make our own.
This year we didn’t stay in Northwood to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve but went to northern Sweden to go skiing with Peter’s side of the family. His parents as well as his sister with her family had all driven to Björnrike to ski and celebrate Christmas.
The weather was lovely and even if I didn’t ski we had a wonderful time and enjoyed the lovely surroundings.
We drove down to our hometown to celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends before we headed south to my family and then go back to London.
I was on a tour today that was all about Sir Richard Whittington who was an merchant and politician during the latter part of the medieval time. He is also the real-life inspiration for the English folk tale Dick Whittington and his cat, which has very little to do with the real Whittington as he didn’t come from a poor background nor if he ever even owned a cat.
He was a member of parliament and a sheriff of London as well as he was Lord Mayor of London four times. He financed different public projects, such as a hospital ward for unmarried mothers, and drainage systems in the poorer areas of medieval London. He also donated his fortune to a charity which, nearly 600 years later, continues to assist people in need.
But as usual we heared a lot of other history on our walk around London.
It was time again for celebrating St Lucia together with other militaries stationed here in London. The department of Defense at the embassy arrange it every year and it’s really appreciated by everyone that are invited.
The Lucia train consist of the middle school students at the Swedish school in London, they come and sing and the guests will applaud after each song if not told that you do that once they are done.
In Sweden, it is done on December 13 and everywhere – schools, pre-schools, care homes, work places, shopping malls and churches, from the youngest to the oldest it is liked. We do not only listen to them sing but also eat Lucia buns (with saffron), ginger snaps and drink glögg (a sweeter mulled wine).
When Peter was in Sudan he worked with a British officer (among others) and last time we were in Edinburgh we had dinner together. Peter has also met him in London when he’s been here.
We were invited to his birthday party at Craigiehall, outside Edinburgh, together with a large group of whom we had not met any before. We had a lovely evening and enjoyed the food and company. We stayed at Craigiehall overnight and after breakfast the next day we went back to Edinburgh and did visit the castle.
We didn’t do that last time as it was the tatoo at the time and so many tourists. This time we took our time, only thing was that we had to carry our bags as the line for leaving them at the station was too long. It’s a nice castle and different from other castles we have seen.
Today I went on a tour to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir here in London. No passports were needed to go to India for a few hours.
”The whole world is one nest” – Atharva Veda
”We are the birds of the same nest.
We may wear different skins,
We may speak in different tongues,
We may believe in different religions,
We may belong to different cultures,
Yet we share the same home – Our Earth.
Born on the same planet, covered by the same skies,
gazing at the same stars, breathing the same air,
we must learn to happily progress together
or miserably perish together.
For humans can live individually, but can only survive collectively.”
For some time, the NAWC ladies have asked if it would be possible to have a guided tour at the base. Many of the ladies have lived nearby for years and years but know nothing about it or have never been there. For us who can go there anytime it’s nothing special, there’s a coffee shop, gym, hairdresser, church and a thrift shop, but they were curious.
The tour ended with a small coffee morning that ladies connected to both the base and NAWC helped out with.
Been to the new Northwood School where Felicia go, Emelie only attended the old one. The school is well planned with every department having their needs met. Especially the science floor – my fellow teachers in Sweden teaching science would love this.
Remember remember the fifth of November Gunpowder, treason and plot. I see no reason why gunpowder, treason Should ever be forgot…
On the 5 of November England is still celebrating/remembering what happened in 1605 when Guy Fawkes was caught guarding gunpowder that was placed under the House of Lords. He was part in a plot to kill the King, James I. Talk about not putting the past behind you =)
Me, Felicia and Robbie went to Cassiobury Park in Watford to see the fireworks as this was the first year it didn’t rain on the evening. First they burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes and then there is fire work. There were so many people we could see the fire but not the effigy.
Kings Cross has been an area for a long time where people only went if they had to, it was a red-light district. The city decided to claim the area back when the Eurostar started to operate out of Kings Cross station. Even if this started already in the 90s they are still building and bringing it back to its old glory where the trains delivered coals among other things. They are keeping the outer walls of some of the old buildings and builds new behind.
The area is called Kings Cross and the train station is called Kings Cross/St Pancras.
John Betjeman was one of the founding members of Victorian Society who worked to save Victorian architecture, which St Pancras is.
Sir Nigel Gresley was one of Britain’s most famous locomotiv engineers. He designed fast, elegant and powerful locomotives including the Flying Scotsman and Mallard, the fastes locomotives in the world.
One of many companies having their headquarters in the area.
Paul Day’s sculpture The Meeting Place
The base of Paul Day’s sculpture The Meeting Place
My cousin’s son and his girlfriend came to visit. I picked them up at the airport and when they walked out my first thought was that they missed getting their luggage as they had no bags. But they had forgotten to book bags for going to London, luckily, they had it booked for going home. They just needed to by bags so they could take everything home they shopped here.
It was nice to have them here even if we just saw them for breakfast and when they came home to sleep. I’m glad that they came!
Tonight, we were invited to the Finnish defense attaché and his wife for dinner with the other Nordic and Baltic attachés and their wives. The hostess had together with the chef put together a lovely dinner with food from all the countries – Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Norway and Sweden.
The food was delicious and looked amazing. Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of the food…
As mum and dad have now sold their house and is going to move beginning of next year they decided to come visit before all the packing and then unpacking. We had a few lovely days together where we did mostly spend it together but also got to do some outings. Took them to Sky Garden as they have never been there and I thought it would be something they both would like to do.
Together with some other Swedish friends we went to Bombay Sapphire Distillery for a guided tour. First part was with audio guide but then the last part inside the distillery it was by a lady who gave us the insight of how to make gin.
A part of the tour was to smell a range of different ingredients used in making gin, you were there plotting it on a piece of paper what you liked. After the tour you take your paper and give to the bartender, he then makes you a gin drink based on this ingredients. As I was driving I got a small bottle of gin and Fevertree tonic to go.
Today we went to Harefield and the Anzac Cemetery. The hospital in Harefield, Harefield Park was during world war l used as an Australian military hospital. Those who died there were buried with military honors in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church.
Being there we met a man from Australia who asked Peter to take a picture of him and the stone – his grandmother’s brother was buried here. He was told by the family that they wanted a picture.