My husband Larry and I took a tour around the USA and I can honestly say it was the holiday of a life-time.
Larry planned each destination as a surprise and off we went on our travels. Luggage – don't even go there. How was I to know what shoes I needed?! Needless to say the airport check-in labeled my suitcase as heavy!
We adore the west coast of the USA. The beaches and coastlines are just beautiful, the people are adorable and, of course, the weather you can't not love - well, most of the time.
One of our stops was Miami. We hadn't been there for quite a few years so we decided to spend three days there after four amazing days at Palm Beach. One of these days was my husband's birthday and he'd booked a fabulous restaurant on recommendation.
We spent the day relaxing on the beach (Ultrasun factor 30 was my life-saver) after our morning run. Now that's an experience with the dolphins at your feet as you run. We celebrated in style and I had brought all his gifts and cards from friends and family, and Scruncher of course, to remind him of a little bit of home.
We sipped cocktails (well, pomegranate and orange for me) and had so much fun. All of a sudden, the clouds went dark and lightning began to strike far out at sea. A rather handsome life-guard (body beautiful as you can imagine in Miami) with his loud speaker suddenly warned everyone to come out of the sea and the swimming pool. The rain trickled and they had predicted it would pass by. Hmm! I had heard that many times before, so I sat laughing thinking we should ride it out. How wrong was I?!
I sat with my towel round my head and of course keeping on the designer sunglasses (see the picture at the top). The rain was warm and it had a wonderfully tropical feel about it. It reminded me of the storms in the Caribbean when I got married. Eventually the sky went black and I've never heard lightning like it and it was heading our way.
The trickle of rain was an understatemement as it began lashing down. The beach was evacuated and the life-guard was instructing us to go inside. I had been through many tropical storms in my years in Florida but they had totally got this one wrong on the weather channel. By now it was forming and being alerted as a tropical storm.
All very wet, we got into the lift to our room with other soggy hotel guests. In the lift was a gentleman who was looking rather dashing and about five of us had clambered in, all dripping, with towels keeping us dry. His face was a picture. My husband says, 'sorry sir, it's raining out there' ( understatement!! ) and he replies, 'hi, my name is Kevin!'
The whole lift collapsed with laughter. He was from Germany and didn't speak English. I had to hide behind Larry as I was almost crying with laughter, you had to be there! So Larry's birthday was going rather well, as you can see. We went to our room and made an english cup of tea with my well-travelled PG Tips.
The storm went from bad to worse. It was unheard of for this time of year and the locals were saying they hadn't seen rain like it for many years. Whilst sipping the tea and dipping into some delicious chocolates we had bought the day before in this amazing chocolate shop, I sat on the window sill and watched the storm. Giving my husband a running commentary (as you can imagine, us presenters are great talkers!) with every detail whilst watching ithe news and taking photographs with my new pink camera. I knew it would come in handy.
Within two hours cars were desperately trying to get out of the bad weather but didn't realize how bad it was in Central Miami and were just driving into water that was gradually getting as deep as car bonnets. You couldn't recognize what was the walkway and what was the road. It was getting scary.
Before we knew it fire engines were coming to the rescue as parked cars and motorbikes were floating down the road. Now it was getting dangerous. Cars were just stalling as water was getting into the bonnets. We saw two young girls in a Range Rover who were climbing out of the windows of the car to try and push it but it was just too much. They decided to leave it and took off their clothes to bikinis and swam to the hotel over the road. I was so worried for them and their car.
They came back out and got back to the car to try again. If they could push it to the next corner it would save the car and spare them the thousands of dollars of repair it would cost them if they didn't rescue it. So we decided to see if we could help them as it was seconds away and they were the only car in this section stranded.
With my husband being a big strong guy we decided to put on our swimwear, went to the hotel reception and got some guys together to help. The hotel wouldn't let us out for safety reasons obviously but four security men went in their clothes and managed to rescue the girls and their car. They were so grateful.Amazingly the car started after it was in a secure place.
We watched in amazement as the rain turned into huge, dangerous hailstones. As for the drainage system, don't even ask, but sea level is practically the same as land level there.
So, four hours later the rain eventually stops and it's chaos outside. But within an hour the roads are practically clear and the sun is now shining. It was weird that you could drive 10 minutes down the road and have glorious sunshine, and everyone would be wondering what on Earth you are going on about.
That's why cars were getting into trouble as the weather channel, which is vital out there, had only predicted showers to pass. Cars were still stranded and now being picked up by rescue vehicles which could, at long last, wade through the water. We couldn't get to the restaurant for my husband's birthday but managed to rebook it for another night. It was certainly a birthday to remember.
You may remember on the same day in June the UK press were reporting a well-known Chelsea football star having a break with his wife in Miami. Well those pics were taken in the morning on a glorious Florida day before the storm hit. It couldn't have been so different. Don't believe all you read!
Have you had any holiday experiences you will never forget? I would love to hear them.