Sunday 20th Feb 2011.

I had decided that Sunday would be washing day. My wife Carole will vouch for the fact that I am not the domestic sort, in fact I do hardly anything around the house, she does it all (I know, I am spoilt rotten!). She had given me some quick instructions before I left regarding the workings of the modern washing machine, and iron, so I was all set to start my ĎSkills Testí. I studied the instructions on the industrial sized washing machine and dryer in the house, convinced myself I knew what to do, and looked around for the washing powder/liquid. Failed at the first attempt! There was none anywhere in the house, so I put it on the shopping list (Jens and Andreas go to Wall Mart most days, and very kindly get me anything I put on the list), and put of the inevitable for 24 hours. Fortunately, I still have a few items of unworn clothing left.

I managed to get in a Skype session with my Sister Brenda; she and I have used Skype before to keep in touch as I live in Sheffield, and she lives in Liverpool, but this was a first to be connecting up from Florida to Liverpool. Itís great that everyone at home wants to keep in touch with how I am doing, and I really appreciate the e-mails and texts I get from friends and relatives.

Tracey kindly offered to drive me up to the Airport, and we had lunch at the Golf Club, before starting our afternoons flying. Today was to be Circuit Flying, with Touch & Go Take-Off and Landings. One of the disadvantages of flying in the afternoon is that it can get quite breezy, much more so than the mornings, which doesnít help with the landings. I think I gave Mike a few frights (not to mention myself), during the half dozen or so T&Gís we did.† After my hours lesson, I concentrated on my written pre-solo test, back in the ground school. This is an Ďopen bookí written test, but finding specific answers to some of the questions in the myriad of books at our disposal can be quite difficult. As usual, I found that Google was my friend.

I had hoped that the wind would die down a bit for my second flying lesson later in the afternoon, but no such luck, so it was another bumpy session, with some very iffy landings. Itís strange, but I seem to find that the things I have had difficulty with in one lesson seem to fall into place by the next lesson, but I canít get it together in the current lesson. For instance, on my first lesson of the day, my landing approaches were rubbish, with Mike doing most of the landings; the approaches on the second lesson were much better, thought the landings left a bit to be desired. Obviously practice, and thinking about what I could do better between lessons, is helping.

I quite enjoyed the long walk back to the House tonight, it was a lovely balmy evening, as the sun started to set. When I got back Tracey and I decided to head downtown for an evening meal. The Daytona 500 had taken place that afternoon, and we actually drove past the racetrack in our way into town. Fortunately, we were going against the traffic as it left the stadium, the queues seem to go on for miles. I have never seen such massive, elaborate 18 wheelers, lit up like Christmas Trees, obviously belonging to the many teams that had been racing. Some of the RVís and Campers also had to be seen to be believed. The racetrack itself is massive, but unlike Brands Hatch or Silverstone, it appears to be in the center of town. Whilst I had been flying in the afternoon, I had seen loads of blimps flying over the stadium, and one came directly over our house after the race. I hope I get a chance to fly over the Stadium before I leave.

One thing I have noticed since I have been here is the amount of Stars & Stripes flags on display. I donít think this has anything to do with the race, I just think the Americans are so patriotic. I even noticed a flag flying from the back of one of the Golf Buggies!

Anyway, we found a nice Italian Restaurant, and had a very enjoyable meal. Our Waitress was a big race fan, and chatted to us for ages about the 500. I had watched some of the previous races from the day before, and these guys race around the circuit at speeds approaching 200 mph, with about 6 inches between their cars. The 500 winner was a 20 year old rookie!

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