Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Welcoming Bubble

For quite some time now friends of ours had suggested we visit them in the Villages, an active retirement lifestyle resort north of Orlando in Florida.  Its an interesting concept being for 55+ active retirees who want an adult only place to live, where activities are organised for you (many free) and where the weather is pretty much always warm.

Many Bermudians had decided to buy homes there, some of whom we'd got to know over the years so as we were in Florida due to watch the Sony Ericsson tennis tournament in Miami, we thought we'd take a side trip up the Florida Turnpike to check it out.

Now I thought it was only 2-3 hours away but it turned out to be 5+ hours but with GPS getting there was a breeze which is just as well as once you get to the Villages proper, it pretty much all looks the same.  Apparently there are 15 different house styles to chose from but if that was so, it sure didn't look like it as we would discover as we checked out half a dozen houses during our stay.

Florida and the location of The Bubble

This is what they say about themselves on their website:

The Villages is an active retirement community located in sunny central Florida. Conceived over 50 years ago (by a man named Howard Schwartz and carried on by his family), our hometown has flourished under the guidance of the family who created it, our dedicated employees, and most importantly the folks who call The Villages home.

Our purpose always has, and always will be, “To create a retirement community where people’s dreams can come true.” We continue to redefine retirement living by offering the best in homes, lifestyle and amenities for our residents each and every day.

People drive around in golf carts and being America they come in every design your heart can think of. That means life is pretty slow burning but then there's the activities and clubs all ready and available for you to enjoy.

Love the eyebrows!

There are 3 central towns that serve each of the Villages.  One in the north (old part), one in the middle (10 or so years old) and one in the south (new and in process of being built).  That's where all the restaurants and shops were located, each with a different theme to them.  They were also the social gathering centres where nightly entertainment was available free to all.

Spanish Springs (the older one) with plenty of golf carts around!

The friends we stayed with (Andy and Christine) had bought in the Villages a year or so back and stayed there 3+ months per year (but always for less than 4 months, the maximum allowed for US tax reasons).  Being a year or so younger than us they'd had to acquire special dispensation to be allowed to stay there and they'd joined right in there.

Being young and fit, they were the jocks on the block in every sport!  That meant for the duration of our stay we'd have that chance too!!

The sport of choice for this showing was to be 'pickel ball' -- a short tennis court varietal.  Being tennis players and young/fit we thought we'd rip the joint which was pretty much what happened... until we came up against some villagers who knew the game and suckered us in to a pick up match.  Putting on prosthetic knee braces, arm and wrist braces and generally parking the zimmer frame by the net, they simply crushed us with jolly cries of "Ooh, that was lucky.  I don't normally serve like that!"

The pickel ball court.  Note the yellow plastic hole-y balls you play with.

Beware the oldies!!

As for adding our name to the muster role of 'Villagers' or residents of the 'Bubble' as our friends called it, well maybe we'll think about it in another 10 years time when we'll have had a chance to practice pickel ball.

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