Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Daytona via Bournemouth

DSC09998 (1300x974)Sometimes I find that I can travel for a long distance yet find yourself back in familiar surroundings.  Daytona Beach is 4000 miles from Bournemouth, a long way south as well as west.  But with the broad sandy beaches and wedding-cake pier, seabirds and arcades, they could almost be east/west reflections of one another.

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The main difference is the substitution of hotels for bluffs, the American habit of driving on the beaches, and the profusion of ‘surf shops’' selling anything and everything except boards and wetsuits.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Along Daytona Beach

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“Florida for Thanksgiving” is one of those fun, family ideas that surfaced periodically.  A change of scenery to a place with beaches and warm weather, freedom from cooking and cleaning up afterward, a nice tan to show on return.  But the boardwalk, pier, and beaches were deserted at warm sunset, only a few strolling couples with dogs and a flock of wheeling seagulls.

Kind of lovely in its unexpected stillness, actually.

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The whole trip arose from a misunderstanding.  I was closing out project accounts and had given a US auditor open access to my Dutch accountant.  They found the VAT Refund line, with 200K next to it.  There was immediate concern that the money had been skimmed, when it had, in fact, circulated back into the project.  But there was nothing to be done but to go demonstrate the fact, tracking the cash flows from starting to ending balances.

I keep exhaustive accounts for the spendingbusiness, going back years, and everything has a paper trail.  So it only took a day to crosstab the information, then hop a plane.  It was a interesting to see how the 21 months of spending break out, taxes and legal take more than expected, while travel and salary were pretty low.

By the end of the full-day’s walk-through, I needed a ‘real’ break.  So I headed down the coast to Daytona Beach for two days.  The town is mainly mainly for the huge motor speedway outside town, but I thought it would also have good coastal kitsch, shops and restaurants.

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The developed strip turned out to be retro and sleepy, pastel art-deco towers alternating with and low spanish-style homes.  Daytona discouraged spring break crowds decades ago, and now crowds ebb and flow with the race schedules, February through September.  During the winter, folks go elsewhere.

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That leaves the broad beaches, balconied rooms, and and poolside bars empty, even at Thanksgiving.  The locals seem to prefer it that way: there is an authentic life to it and a nice pace to the day.

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DSC09947 (1300x1057)Sometimes its nice to briefly go off-grid.  I loved the pelicans and the Joyland park, and watching the fishermen along the pier at noon and evenings watching the sun set over a drink at Joes.

DSC09955 (1300x972)Avoiding email and phones, I took a lot of long walks and sits to think, to make some notes, and to sort plans for the rest of the year.

Thanksgiving will be a UK work day.