A tour of the Hemingway House in Key West

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. “ ~ Ernest Hemingway

On our recent visit to Key West, hubby and I got tired of sitting at the hotel swimming pool, so went for a walk along Duval Street. We had read that Ernest Hemingway’s house and museum wasn’t far away, and when we spotted the lighthouse, knew we must be almost there.


Neither of us had thought to bring the camera, so all photos were taken with our cell phones. The house itself, built in 1851 by Asa Tift a marine architect and salvage wrecker, is just what I would choose if I could have a home in Key West; two storey with shady balconies all round. I would definitely add air conditioning though. It was so hot in there even with a variety of fans blowing in every room.  Hemingway’s wife Pauline had apparently had all the ceiling fans taken down and replaced with chandeliers. Style for her obviously came before comfort!


Hemingway lived here from 1931 to 1939. It was bought on auction for him and his second wife Pauline as a wedding present from her uncle. The story goes that she wanted this particular house because of its location next to lighthouse, which made it easy for her husband to find his way home after drinking the night away with his cohorts at Sloppy Joe’s Bar. In 1939, Hemingway left his wife and two sons, moved away from Key West, and married American journalist Martha Gellhorn,  After the war, Martha found herself displaced in favour of Mary Welsh a war correspondent for Time and Life magazines.


Our guided tour was rather crowded, and I would like to go back out of season and take more time to look at all the exhibits and meet more of the fifty or so six-toed (polydactyl) cats who live there. This orange one was very lively and besides nibbling at the pot plant on the dining table, kept pawing our guide because he knew that she had some tidbits in her pocket.


A feature in the back yard is a urinal which Hemingway rescued from Sloppy Joe’s Saloon during renovations.  He brought it home one night much to his wife’s disapproval, and had it converted it into a water fountain. It gets filled with water from a large Cuban jar, and serves as one of many drinking water sources for the resident cats.


Hemingway was a great fan of boxing, and had his own boxing ring in the back yard, where he would spar with local amateur boxers. In 1937 he decided to build a swimming pool on this site.


This project was an expensive and  laborious feat, as a massive hole had to be dug out of solid coral. It cost $20,000, and was the only pool within 100 miles in the 1930’s. You can read more interesting details about it here.


There is a large green bench near the pool, which I’m tagging for Jude’s August ‘Colourful Bench Challenge‘.


Here are a few scenes from inside the house. Click a photo to see the gallery.

I almost forgot to show you the fountain detail at the front entrance. I read that it was designed by the previous owner Asa Tift to replicate an iron clad warship. I don’t see the resemblance though. Do you?


Hemingway was a prolific writer who in 1954 was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. He was a hard living, hard drinking man who lived an extravagantly flamboyant life. He was a bullfighter, a deep-sea fisherman, a great white hunter, a war hero, a rebel and without doubt a fearless and very tough guy. He tragically died at the age of sixty-two at his home in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho at 7am on July 2nd 1961, from a self inflicted gun shot wound to the head, the same way his father Clarence had died in 1928.

“Live life to the fullest. It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”  ~ Ernest Hemingway 1899-1961


Creepiest heads for the WPC

This week’s photo challenge, ‘Creepy’ had me remembering a couple of tourist ‘attractions’ which I’m sure could be classed as ‘Creepy’.

We were ‘privileged’ to see these shrunken heads at a museum in Ecuador. Apparently, shrinking the head of an enemy was believed to harness the spirit of that person, and to compel him to serve the ‘shrinker’. It was also believed to prevent the soul from returning to take vengeance. Did you ever watch that movie ‘Honey, I shrunk the kids’?


Note that the hair is still nicely styled. How creepy is that?


In downtown Lima, Peru, below the ‘Convento de San Francisco’, along some secret and creepy passageways, are catacombs containing an Ossuary in which are the bones of some 70,000 people.


They are lined up along narrow hallways, and one area contains several large and deep holes, filled with bones and skulls neatly arranged above each other in circular patterns.


Now if you thought these were creepy pictures, what about this one? Our teenage grandson decided to creep everyone out when he took part in a charity walk in Johannesburg. Are you surprised that no-one wanted to sit next to him on the bus travelling to the start of the walk?


If you can bear to see more creepiness on this Monday morning, just click the WPC link below. Have a great week. 🙂


Weekend thoughts over breakfast

When I was still working, I understandably used to look forward so much to the weekends. I wonder why now that I’m retired, the weekends are still so special. Is it that old habits die hard, or is there really something magical about these two days whose names just happen to begin with the same letter as my own name?


W aiting eager for relaxation
E ach weekday seems like a year
E ndless workdays in between
K eep my eyes just fixed on Friday
E lusive though it often seems
N early there, the prize is waiting
D one with work and now I’m free

W here has all my free time gone to
E ven whilst I was enjoying
E very moment of weekend fun
K eeping work on the back burner
E njoyment seemed to be the key
N ow it’s Sunday, almost over
D rat my weekend’s been and gone!


Wishing you all a delicious weekend.

This time last week……Delicious lunch and swinging benches

It doesn’t seem like a whole week has passed since we were on our way home from a fabulous few days in Key West. Our son and his family were headed to Miami for the weekend, and we all stopped off for lunch at the beautiful resort town of Islamorada, which is about ninety minutes south of Miami.


The waterfront restaurant ‘Marker 88’ looked very popular and the food was excellent. Here’s my scrumptious and super fresh shrimp salad, which I never wanted to end.


We ate inside, because there were no shady tables left outside and it was really hot. Afterwards, the children had some fun with one of the swinging benches. In fact, Max got that bench swinging so hard that we had to rescue the salt and pepper pots. ( I guess this qualifies for Jude’s colourful bench challenge.)


If we’d had more time to spend, and it hadn’t been so stinging hot, we would have sat here for a little siesta after lunch.


Hubby and I are thinking that we should return here for a few days out of summer season. It’s not as vibrant as Key West, but looked far more relaxing and is only half the distance to drive.


Wishing you all a great weekend. Have lots of fun.

Ed’s Sunday Stills: My two most amazing cloud images in B&W

“I’m a dreamer. I have to dream and reach for the stars, and if I miss a star, I grab a handful of clouds.” ~ Mike Tyson

This week’s Sunday Stills Challenge is ‘Clouds in black and white’.

I took this first one through the car windscreen with my mobile phone on the drive back down to Florida from NJ. It looks quite dramatic in B&W, but I think I prefer the original colour version which I posted last year.


The second one was taken last week in Key West, looking out over the Gulf of Mexico from the deck at the Pier House Resort.


To join in Ed’s challenge, click the badge below.


Travel Theme Grey: A Storm Brewing

Ailsa’s Travel Theme this week is ‘Grey’. Early yesterday evening we were treated to dramatic dark grey skies here in sunny Florida.


As usual, hubby had been working on the abandoned house renovations all day, and when he had got home and showered, we were planning to go out to Home Depot for yet more supplies. Luckily the storm didn’t last long and the skies soon started to clear.


I must do an update on the the house progress. He’s doing a great job, but still so much more to do.

If you have any grey photos to show us, do join Alisa’s Travel Theme this week.


Would you mind an upgrade?

We couldn’t get a booking at the same hotel as our son and family for the Tuesday night, so stayed at ‘Ocean Key Resort and Spa’ just across the road. When we checked in, the young woman behind the desk asked, “Would you mind having the Honeymoon Suite? It’s a little smaller but there’s a great view from the balcony.”


“It’s got a shower and a jacuzzi.”


I replied, “I’d really hate that, but I’m sure we’ll cope.”


Our son offered to trade us for their room with a view of the car park, on condition we also had the three grandchildren for the night. I really love him to bits, but there are limits. What do you think we did?