Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Something's fishy - yep, a trip to SeaWorld - that's what

Sacreu-bloody-bleu. I was all excited because my blog du jour was all about a visit to SeaWorld that I went on whilst on holiday in America, and I had loads of cool pictures. But following a quick review of my photographic masterpieces (ok, maybe more doodles than masterpieces), I realised that I had "lost" at least half of them. One minute they were there, and the next, my dasdardly computer had eaten them. Damn you laptop, and your caddish ways. Don't worry though, I did manage to recover a few of them ....

Anyway, back to our SeaWorld trip. We were scoffing breakfast at Clare's house in Florida, when I turned to daughter, Izzy, and said, "we've got a surprise for you today."

"What is it?" she asked, eyeing me suspiciously.

"We're going to SeaWorld!" I exclaimed.

"What's SeaWorld?"

"It's a place with loads of fishy stuff in it," I said.

"Fish are boring," retorted Izzy, doing an impression of one by opening and closing her mouth slowly and staring at me with glassy eyes.

"No they're not," I stated indignantly.

"What do they do then?" she asked. 

I paused ......... "ermmm, exciting stuff ....... like [racking my brains] ....... jumping in the air."

"I can do that," she stated matter-of-factly.

"Look," I said, "we are going to SeaWorld and you are going to bloody enjoy it - ok?"

"Ok," replied Izzy, staring at me blankly whilst chewing a syrup-infused waffle.

I don't know - kids these days. They don't know they're born.

After breakfast, Clare, Izzy and I piled into her car and made our way to SeaWorld. The temperature outside was 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and the air-conditioning was shuddering under the weight of the humidity. We were all sweating glowing like pigs by the time we arrived ......... but it didn't matter because Clare and I were excited, despite the fact that Izzy was nonchalant but not carrying it off because she was clutching a pink teddy bear.

Anyway, enough of that milarky ....... here are some pictures of our day out at SeaWorld ........... enjoy dahlink!

Pic.No.1. The Sealion show! You have to look quite hard at the stage, but when you do, you will be able to see a sealion and a mammoth performing for the audience. [Note to reader: I have just been reliably informed that the fat pink one is a Walrus, not a mammoth]

Pic.No.2 As we wandered around SeaWorld, we encountered all kinds of wildlife - like these flamingos. Apparently they are pink because their feathers take on the colour of their diet - and they eat shrimps. I really wanted to take one home and feed it blue soda to see what would happen

Pic.No.3 A herd of penguins. They have natural comedy value because they walk funny

Pic.No.4 At SeaWorld they seem pretty good at trying to recreate some semblence of a natural habitat for the fishy things

Pic.No.5 Although they look like two large panty-liners bobbing around in a pool, I was reliably informed that they are called Manatees

Pic.No.6 Look at the brown fish on the right - it has the body of a fish, but the face of a crocodile - spooky

Pic.No.7 I loved the the fact that SeaWorld had loads of underwater tunnels that allowed you to view the fishes close-up. Here you can see a manatee at close quarters. The white marks on it's back and tail were injuries sustained from the propeller of a boat. And once they are mended, she will be released back into the wild

Pic.No.8 The manatee sucks up to the viewing glass. That is one weird mouth. If you look closely, it appears as though a tiger is trying to dig his way out

Pic.No.9 And whilst we were watching the panty-liners, a sinister-looking black fish swam towards us

Pic.No.10 "Blimey that looks like you," I said to Clare before she flicked me the bird

Pic.No.11 Ugly fish gets up close and personal with Izzy .................

Pic.No.12 .... before swimming off into the distance ..... meaning that it was time for us to get off to the next attraction ....

Pic.No.13 Rules are there to be broken

Pic.No.14 Izzy was obviously entralled by the fact that she was about to see dolphins (this photo was taken on my iPhone because my camera battery died)

Pic.No.15 We stood in the underwater viewing area and were rewarded by dolphins whizzing past. Dolphins are the dog's danglies

Pic.No. 16 Another dolphin whizzes by to have a look at us. If I was a lady-dolphin, I would be certain that that dolpin was giving me a 'come hither' look

Pic.No.17 And after emerging into the daylight after seeing the dolphins underwater, we were greeted with the spectacle of seeing them from above the water. Here are three of them doing a simultaneous dive. Man alive are they fast? It took me 20 shots just to capture this one image

Pic.No.18 And so onto the grand finale - A killer whale  performs to the crowd by lying on a watery-stage. The human trainers are not allowed in the water with the whales anymore after Shamu (the biggest performing killer whale) scoffed a girl trainer

Pic.No.19  It was beautiful seeing the killer whales in their natural environment

Vid.No.1 A Sperm Whale at SeaWorld show

All in all, we had a marvellous day out, and in spite of Izzy's face in the picture (she didn't want to pose for a photo), she absolutely loved it. I think the thing that swung it was feeding prawns to the sting rays - fish that look like pancakes with a tail.

 Pic.No.20 So after a long hot day at SeaWorld, what better way to finish it off than with a cold glass of wine, and a dip in the pool at sunset

P.S. So dahlink, what is your favourite type of fishy thing?

Friday, 26 August 2011

Guns and Snakes - America is full of treach

After a rather busy weekend at Cocoa Beach and the Kennedy Space Centre, my chum Clare and I decided to go back to her house and chillout for the day. Now when Clare and I decide to "chillout" it invariably involves eating a lot, drinking a lot, and not moving much. In other words, we were going to be human slugs.

Excellent to the power squared! After all, moving should be the reserve of Proles dahlink.

But even in the sedentary world of the human slug, there are still elements of excitement ........... (please excuse the poor quality photos, I had to temporarily use my iPhone after killing my Canon Powershot S95 by taking it down the rapids at Aquatica).

Pic.No.1 Breakfast by the pool, cooked by mega-chef Clare. We were joined by a 'Hello Kitty' spaceman that Jody and Clare had bought for Izzy at the Kennedy Space Centre. That big glass ball on the table is it's space helmet

Pic.No.2 Just as I was tucking into my cheesey hash browns, I noticed a movement in the swimming pool. "Eh up Clare," I said, "you've got some crap floating in your pool."

Pic.No.3 Upon closer inspection, it transpired that the 'crap' was in fact a snake. "Excellent!" yelled Izzy and I, "can we hold it?" Clare shook her head vigorously because she didn't know what type of snake it was. But you will be happy to know that she rescued it from the pool and released it into the wild. She is like a Buddhist but without the orange sheet

After breakfast, we sunbathed on the sunloungers for a couple of hours before I lazily suggested to Clare that we really ought to be thinking about lunch. 

"All sorted," she said, "we are going to eat at an open-air restaurant on the shores of Lake Minihaha." 

Bloody marvellous!

Pic.No.4 Clermont (where Clare lives) is in a really watery part of Florida - there are literally thousands of lakes, and so many places have water views that it is almost like living next to the coast

Pic.No.5 Lunch dahlink? We kicked things off with a Margherita cocktail

Pic.No.6 Clare sips her Margherita whilst chilling in front of the lake

Pic.No.7 Izzy and Teddy get into the groove by hitting the hard stuff - lemonade WITH a real slice of lemon in it

Pic.No.8 Then a shy and retiring Izzy nicked my iPhone and took pictures of herself

Pic.No.9 My lunch was a Reuben Sandwich. It was sex in a plastic dish. For those in England, a Reuben is a thinly sliced beef sandwich served with Sauerkraut. Boom!

Pic.No.10 Going out for lunch exhausted us, so we went back to Clare's house and chilled by the pool whilst Izzy spent four hours in there. She looked like Mother Theresa by the time I coaxed her out

But the excitement didn't stop there. Jody (Clare's husband) returned home in the late evening, and he was sporting a gadget of epic proportions - a gun! A REAL gun that could shoot bullets and everything.

Now because Clare and I are from the UK, we have grown up without ever seeing guns. So playing with a real-life gun was a proper treat.

We took it in turns to do Cagney and Lacey gangster chases, pretending to shoot each other whilst executing lame forward-rolls, and diving behind sofas.

 Pic.No.11 Look at me. I am a gangsta! My alter ego is Bonnie .........

Pic.No.12 ....................and this is Clyde (the gal carries it off with aplomb)

In the end, Jody stopped our gangsta chases for health and safety reasons. He said that we weren't allowed to point guns at each other. And he said that he had to put three safety locks on the gun so that it couldn't be operated by Izzy should she accidentally find it. He is very good like that ....... he is the sensible one. 

So dahlink, that's me done. I am off to order a Domino's Pizza ...... amber nectar in a carboard box. 

P.S. Do you know what type of snake was in the swimming pool?

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Kennedy Space Center - Marvellous!

Bloody hell. I nearly forgot where my blog was given that I haven't been here for so many days. I had to use my Sat Nav to get here and it told me to 'fork off'.

So where have I been? Well, since I got back from America, I have had a pretty constant stream of visitors and it seemed rude to sit down and write a blog whilst they were sitting round my kitchen table, eyeing me intently and waiting to be entertained. Not only that, it is a fact that it is impossible to type without making mistakes if someone is watching you.

But now I have time to catch up with all things bloggy .......... so back to America ...... where was I? Oh yes, that's right, I had just gone for a weekend away at Cocoa Beach in Florida with my chum Clare, her husband Jody, and my ragamuffin Izzy. We spent the first day on the beach and although it was fun, it was too gritty for my liking (someone needs to invent 'AstroSandTM'), and the sea had bits in it. Which meant that on the second day, I wanted to do something good. And given that I like gadgets, a visit to the Kennedy Space Centre seemed like the perfect choice, considering it was next to Cocoa Beach. After all, you can't get more gadgety than a space shuttle.

Clare wasn't too sure about looking at rockets (she likes having her nails done), but luckily her husband being an engineer (in fact an aerospace engineer like me), was dead keen on it.

So on the Sunday morning, we arose at 9am and began our trip to the Kennedy Space Center. And because I am kinder than Mother Theresa (except that I definitely used more sunscreen), I have got some photographs for you to look at ................. enjoy.

Pic.No.1 Before visiting the Kennedy Space Centre, we decided that we needed fortification. So we stopped at 'Waffle House' for breakfast. It was marvellous. I ordered tortillas with hash browns, ham and jalapenos in - for breakfast!

Pic.No.2 Izzy ordered chocolate covered waffles with bacon. Totally minging. She needs to go to a Swiss Finishing School or something

Pic.No.3 This is the entrance to the Kennedy Space Center. You can see all the rockets in the background

Pic.No.4 Here we are .... Izzy and I blend in seamlessly with the NASA boffins

Pic.No.5 At first I wondered why they had a big black football on a fountain. But then I realised that it was a 3D depiction of the universe. But the really cool thing was that the ball was made out of marble, but held aloft by the water, which enabled us to rotate it with a gentle push

Pic.No.6 This is a large model of a space shuttle. Grrrrrrrr ....... I want one for my sideboard. It is powered by rocket boosters (the tall white rockety-looking things at the side) as well as the main engines (at the arse-end of the shuttle). The big yellow blobby thing at the front of the shuttle holds fuel

Pic.No.7 If the model space shuttle wasn't good enough - how about a full size replica?

Pic.No.8 Call me picky, but it looks like it has been cobbled together with bits of tin and string

Pic.No.9 Excellent! It's the Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs). They were powered by liquid nitrogen combined with liquid oxygen. BOOM!

Pic.No.10 This is Izzy standing under a space shuttle (it's not often that I write that)

Pic.No.11 The cockpit of the space shuttle. Being only 6 years old, Izzy was lucky to have experienced being aboard a spacecraft. And yet the biggest attraction was viewing her own reflection. That's my girl

Pic.No.12 This is the hold of the space shuttle. And the picture is of a satellite ready to be popped into orbit. But not really. Because the space programme in America has been suspended indefinitely. And it was a pretend satellite anyway

Enough of that milarky, after going through the touristy bit, we then got on a bus so that we could see the business end ..... i.e. where the shuttles lived and worked

Pic.No.13 Apparently, this is one of the biggest buildings in the world (ummm). It is called the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and it is used to attach the solid rocket boosters and external fuel tank to the space shuttle, prior to lauch

Pic.No.14 Another view of the VAB. See those big grey shutter-looking things that go up the side of the building? They are the doors which open to allow access for the space shuttles. We weren't allowed inside the building, but were told that all three remaining space shuttles were inside being prepared for display at various locations around the US

Pic.No.15 After viewing the VAB and launch pad, we continued our tour by visiting the Launch Control Centre. This is a picture of Izzy sitting on Jody's shoulders in the foyer ....... which contained another bloody enormous rocket. Totally marvellous

Pic.No.16 Another view of the rocket in the Launch Control Centre. And here is an interesting fact for you; 'Did you know that if you stood within 400 feet of a space shuttle lauch, the sound would kill you?' See, now you can go and impress your chums!

Pic.No.17 Blimey! Look at the engineering that goes into the rocket engines. It's seriously impressive (I keep a copy of this picture in my bedside drawer)

Pic.No.18 This is another view of the inside of the Launch Control Centre. It had so much gadgetry that I was like a dog with two cocks (one of my colleagues used to say that)

Pic.No.19 Oooh, I love pictures with me in them. Here I am with ragamuffin, posing next to .... yep you got it ..... a space rocket

Pic.No.20 This is Izzy walking on the moon in a really fake kind of a way (except this time there were no conspiracy theories)

Pic.No.21 Izzy and Clare (you can see that she does her nails) touch a piece of rock that has been brought back from the moon. It looked like slate and I expected it to give us more superhero powers

Pic.No.22 I have no idea what this was. It looked like something that gets eaten by Pac Man

Pic.No.23 This is Izzy on Jody's shoulders (again). She cottoned on to the fact that Jody was REALLY tall (about 6'4") and that when she struggled seeing stuff, she could climb up on his shoulders. I like that kind of opportunism

Pic.No.24 Finally we got into the Launch Control Centre headquarters. It was from here that most of the Apollo missions were launched

Vid.No.1 Here is a recreation of one of the Apollo launches that I filmed in the Launch Control Center (viewing time: 2 minutes)

So all in all dahlink, it was a fabulous day out. I would add though, when compared other venues in America, it did seem in need of a bit of updating and improvement. For example, it took us 40 minutes to get through the ticket gates which meant that we didn't have time to see everything. And a few of the exhibits were a bit tired-looking. And they needed to make more out of the VAB and launch pad. But hey, if you like gadgets, you can put up with that.

Now, I am going to ask you a question: Who was the first man on the moon? Do you know?
P.S. Here is a video (not mine) of the last space shuttle landing at Kennedy Space Centre ...... great viewing

Vid.No.2 The last space shuttle landing (viewing time: 9 minutes)

P.P.S. I would like to say thank you to Shirley Finnerty who recommended that I visit the Kennedy Space Centre

P.P.S This is a picture of Shirley Finnerty with her husband, Fred. This picture was taken during a lunch out at 'The Talkhouse' in Oxford

LinkWithin Related Posts