Orlando homes and gardens.
If you have visited Orlando, Florida with a young family then you probably know all there is to know about the theme parks, the hotels and the restaurants along International Drive?
However, there is another Orlando a prettier, quieter place. An Orlando where the Floridians quietly go about their everyday lives. Where they get up and drive to work, they shop, they eat out and they relax at the weekends just like you or I do in our own homes. Except they do it in warmer weather, with cheaper petrol and the occasional Alligator on the golf course!
How do I know this? My Mother lives here and has done for over 17 years… (I am actually writing this from Florida )
The houses for the most part are pretty, they are built on estates called ‘sub-divisions’ These newly built homes must conform to ever changing building legislations, in order to protect the inhabitants as far as is possible, from hurricanes. All the houses are built from wood.
However, there is another Orlando a prettier, quieter Orlando, the one where the Floridians quietly go about their everyday lives…
There is an HOA (Home Owners Association) who will ensure that no house is painted the same colour as its neighbour! In fact there will be a list of ‘approved’ colours. They will also ensure the grass outside all of the homes conforms ie it must be the right type (in my Mum’s sub division it must be St Augustine grass) and be mowed to the correct height.
Whoa betide he who lets his grass grow wild, weeds are not encouraged!
Orlando has a subtropical climate and therefore before you know it you could find yourself cohabiting with some weird and wonderful creatures and insects!
To prevent this my Mother pays a pest prevention company to have her house and the perimeter sprayed quarterly. This also comes in handy when you come face to face with a large insect in your pantry and have no idea what it is or how to remove it! The company will come out free and dispense advice and reassurance as well as removing any creepy little critters.
Not all homes have pools, most subdivisions have community pools with changing rooms and sun beds etc. But for privacy you cannot beat having your own…
My Mum has a beautiful pool and maintains it all by herself. Once or twice a week she will take a sample of pool water up to the Pool shop for chemical testing. they will then advise her as to what needs adding to keep everything balanced.
A fascinating little robotic cleaner, whips around under the water whirring and scrubbing away for a few hours until he is removed. He sucks up any fallen debris that has managed to find its way in through the large ‘cage like screening’ that surrounds the pool.
Mum has a cat (she used to have two) but I have noticed that there are a lot of dog owners out here, water bowls are out everywhere in the restaurants, it is a dog friendly place.
mums cat has a cat flap that allows him access to the pool, in the cool of the evening, he can be seen ‘patrolling’ the pool perimeter, checking for any stray lizards. I am told he has fallen in once! The cat food makes me giggle, it is labeled as paté!
My Mum shops at either Publix or Target. Fresh veg, salad and fruit is abundant and whole aisles are dedicated to lettuce. Sometimes the fruit is sprayed to keep it fresh. However there are also many aisles devoted to crisps, (chips) snacks and spreads. Everything is bigger, the packets,the jars and the choices.
In most supermarkets they still pack your bags for you and they all continue to use plastic bags, but they do at least encourage you to bring your own. The organic food section has improved during the years I have been visiting, but the choice is bigger and better at home. You will rarely see an ugly deformed carrot or Apple in Orlando!
They are all huge and shiny! There are lots of trucks, my son delights in spotting the monster trucks. Petrol is so cheap over here as I write it is $1.99 for an american gallon.
In Florida, you can drive if you are accompanied and have a special licence at 15! (learners permit)
Mot’s are not required.
There are many ‘Toll’ roads that you pay to use, Mum has a special ‘E Pass’ on her car that charges her monthly per use. It saves time, no queuing or scrabbling for change!
Would you like to see the inside of my Mum’s house? It is cool, calm and for me nostalgic. I may consider an interiors post next time? All those plants are plastic, as real plants encourage pests! (see above)
So there you have it a brief guide to the real Orlando and how the floridians live…
What do you think? Have you ever visited the real Orlando or just the theme parks?
Some Useful info:
I wrote about my top 5 things to pack for a long haul flight here if you are flying soon you may want to check it out?