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Crab and Lobster

4 March, 2015

Andrew writes this report from a sun-kissed Miami Beach.

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Art Deco Miami Beach

“It’s fair to say that after ten days in the USA, we have become connoisseurs of cold. There is the gentle, unseasonable chill of North Carolina, or the hard, desiccated freeze of Kansas City; then there is the gnawing cold of New York City, or the crunch of fresh snow in Boston. And so when we shed our thermals at Miami airport and emerged, blinking, into garish sunshine and eighty-degree heat, a strange euphoria took hold of this normal sanguine group. Whisked by the good folk of the Miami Bach Society to our hotel in the resort of Miami Beach, we wasted little time in finding a rooftop bar and treating ourselves to a cocktail or two as the sun set. The evening was rounded off by a pilgrimage to a Miami institution, Joe’s Stone Crab, for crab claws and key lime pie.

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A strange euphoria took hold…

“Tuesday dawned warm and clear, and with nothing on the schedule until 4pm it was time to get out and enjoy the sunshine. Some of the girls started the day with Pilates on the beach, whilst I went for an early-morning jog along the waterfront: a welcome change from hotel treadmills with their views of peeling wallpaper and rolling Fox News.

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“A few of us then enjoyed a walking tour exploring the stylish and extrovert Art Deco district. Miami Beach isn’t exactly a shy and retiring place: be it the architecture, the ostentatious muscle cars or the suspiciously well-preserved locals on the beach, the emphasis seems to be on flaunting what you have. The former mansion of Gianni Versace, with its faux-colonial porch, is now a hotel, but retains its 24-carat-gold-plated swimming pool!

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“Those less architecturally inclined headed straight out to the beach for some hard-earned sun worship. By the time the group reunited, for a 4pm rehearsal at the Miami Beach Community Church, it was clear that Kate’s premonitions about sunburn had indeed come to pass. Over-ambitious exposure and substandard suncream application were both cruelly exposed.

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“Patched up with moisturiser and a little judicious make-up, but still glowing sufficiently to obviate the need for the presenters’ spot lighting, it was time for the performance. An enthusiastic audience greeted our Hapsburg programme – Florida was once a Hapsburg possession! Unfortunately the same enthusiasm extended to the saxophone busker outside the church, whose contribution to the Tallis Gloria was somewhat less than Jan Garbarek-like. We needed to draw on all our powers of composure to keep going.

“We’re now looking forward to a couple more days amongst the palm trees and tropical weather before heading back northwards to Columbus, OH, where the temperature will once again be well below freezing!”