Monday, 31 December 2012

Almost time to go.....

My time here down under has flown by. Good times with family and catch ups with a few friends. The summer holidays mean that many are out of town so I won't get time with them this trip. Noah has been lots of fun. In the toilet training phase and doing really well for a small bloke. He's a real character, how could he not be with his heritage. He's off on a South Island tour as soon as I leave, a long drive with stops in all the good places.

I've enjoyed being here, very relaxed and social. Enjoyed eating my favourite foods like whitebait, hot smoked salmon and tasty NZ tomatoes and cherries, washed down with a nice crisp white. I suspect I'm a little too relaxed, going back to work in a few days is not exactly a prospect I relish. Think of me over the next day or so, Christchurch to Brisbane to LA to Miami and Cayman. Seems easier to write than to do.

It's the last day of 2012, at least it is where I am, and tomorrow we awaken to a brand new year full of promise and excitement; full of travel and change; full of family and friends. What more could a girl ask for. Happy new year where ever you are in the world.

Fun times at the botanic gardens

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Sumner

Today was one out of the bag, a lovely Christchurch go to the beach day. We headed to Sumner to enjoy the sun, sand and surf. Noah loved the waves, very brave for a small person as he ran in and splashed around. Tim got the surf board out and Noah had a turn, he loved it as the photo shows. We finished with an ice cream, what more could a small boy want. More soon, this tired grandma needs some sleep. I'm also a little sunburnt by New Zealand's fierce sun, certainly got my vitamin D today.

Monday, 24 December 2012

It's been busy!

It's been lovely getting some Eve time, lots of Eve time. We've played with her new tea set, eating cake and drinking tea; we've rolled and chopped her dough; we've been out walking and shopping; we've entertained her cousins; we've laughed and giggled and played. Fantastic fun! Nineteen months is such a lovely age. Eve is very chatty, copying words and saying plenty of her own. She calls me manga, with a soft 'gna'. It's kind of like grandma, a bit backwards and despite me saying grandma, it's stuck. Much to the delight of her mum.

"Where's manga?" Eve asks in the morning. Tomorrow will be the last morning for a while. I suspect she'll be a little preoccupied with her Santa haul and her cousins Milla and Ana. I can't wait to see her face when she sees the playhouse outside, complete with real flowers in the window boxes. It was funny listening to Kieran and Sasi putting the house together, reminiscent of the days when I had small children, those late Christmas eve nights getting things right for the morning. At least Eve was asleep early.

Today there was some last minute shopping, the mall quieter than I expected, the strawberries as expensive as gold. Tomorrow will be a treat, starting in Brisbane and ending in Christchurch. I'm sad to be leaving, sad it was my last evening of Eve. I can't wait to see Noah, Tim and Sarah at my next stop and share the gifts I bought for them. My trip to Sydney on Saturday was eventful, I met a pack of angry people after Jetstar had cancelled our flights. That's a story for another day, an emotional roller coaster of a day the highlight of which was meeting Liberty and her mum Sonia.

Eve and Sasi taking tea

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

On holiday

Brisbane's been a bit of a treat. I'm getting plenty of Eve time, enjoying getting to know her in person. She's a bit of a character, 19 months old and very chatty, very entertaining and knows what she wants.    We've been for a couple of wanders around the new neighbourhood and played out in the back yard of their new place. We got some Christmas gifts today, a doll to bath and some clothes for the big day. There's an amazing selection of children's clothes here, some really expensive some an okay price. Spoiling Eve is my top priority, not a bad one to have.

I'm meeting up with Nick and Liberty in Sydney on Saturday, a day trip down to see them. After the Brisbane Christmas celebrations it's off to New Zealand. Quite a few hours of flying racked up this trip. The flight over was very long, the next few will be a piece of cake. Happy holidays!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

LAX

Well this is a first, being able to get on the Internet in LAX via Skype. I'm on my way to Brisbane, a long flight that makes the almost 6 hour from Miami look like a commute. Oh well, at least I'll I should get some sleep. It's actually nice to sit here and not be bored, to keep myself awake at almost 2am Cayman time, to be able to get messages to Sasi and arranging my arrival, to catch up on email and messages. All very important.

It does make me smile though. I must be the only one around who still reads a real book, the paper and ink kind. Most people seem to have Kindles and iPads and other electronic things. It's amusing to watch people eating a meal and engaging with their electronic goods rather than with each other. I'm not the only lone traveler it seems. I had an amusing time ordering food here. Vege foods is uncommon and the lovely waiter at Chillis laughed when I asked for the chicken salad wrap minus the chicken. I told him he should have that on the menu, he smiled as he gave me my GnT.

So I'm taking the long trip again, this time a much easier stop in LA, three hours instead of the usual 6 or so. It was lovely to fly over the US at night, the cities lit up down below and the big cities glowing on the horizon. I bought an iPod in Miami after forgetting mine, left on the bench along with my NZ cell phone. It's a cute little Nano touch screen. I just need to upgrade my iTunes so I can load the music.

Boarding soon, next stop Brisbane.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Only 3 more sleeps...

Until I fly and today it was Christmas shopping, Cayman style. This can be done in a couple of lunch hours when you know what you want and where to get it. I managed to get most bought for, not a bad effort for today. I also found myself a Christmas present, a lovely handbag to travel with. My red one is tatty and I can't carry it while wearing orange shoes, the others are too small for my camera. I suspect I'll get that tomorrow lunch time.

I had a rare day off sick yesterday, the dreaded tummy bug others had suffered hit me. Not very usual for me, I usually don't suffer the indignity that is a tummy bug. A sleepless night with a griping tum is not much fun, the sleep in the next day was much needed. Renee brought me some coconut water, natures great re-hydrator, and that helped me to get some energy back.

I'll need all the energy I have to get through the rest of the week, tying up the loose ends, preparing for the work Christmas party and getting set to travel. I'm not looking forward to the very short connection time I have in Miami, I will be running to make the LA flight. Then it's clear sailing, well clear flying, straight to Brisbane and lots of Eve time. I can't wait. On the list for tomorrow, that large handbag. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A merry Christmas crew

Jo, Didge, me and Dean
Christmas fashion on the water!
Yes, we did race dressed like this on Sunday. Jo and I spent time on Saturday making the outfits from santa sacks we had bought in Miami. Bruce and Mark who are looking on from Yahoo found it all highly amusing. My outfit was surprisingly comfortable to race in, some padding for the rail. Mayhem ended up with red fluff as the outfits began to disintegrate towards the end. I wonder if mine will be okay to wear to the work Christmas function on Friday, I suspect not!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Home again

And my next two trips booked. Miami reminds me of why I'm not exactly a city person. All those people, all those queues all that racket, all those cars and the grimness that is those for whom the US of A is not exactly the land of milk and honey. People wanting money at the lights, the sad flower seller, the people in the bus stop and the ones under my hotel window. Others seemed excessive, huge servings of food delivered and devoured, queues of people with more than might seem reasonable.

Although they may have been from Cayman doing their Christmas shopping, I say to justify the 11 pairs of shoes Jo and I managed to buy between us in a morning at one DSW and a few hours at another. I haven't bought shoes in ages.......I just may be exaggerating there. I did buy a couple of pairs recently, red and shiny ones. The 6 I managed to buy were fantastic, excellent brands and very good buys. I even managed to get some Seychelles, one of my favourites, and a pair of sparkly blue heels to wear with my gold and silver dresses. I've been looking for them for a while.

So excessive shoes, well not really. I wear them every day and need some variety. Okay I could justify for New Zealand. I also got work clothes, clothes that fit. Trousers and tops and shirts and a jacket. All good, all on sale. The best time to shop for summer is in winter I've discovered. Well, it was lovely to try on the white winter coats, sigh and put them back knowing they are not needed and then move to the sales tables.

I had a fantastic time, time off the rock with no emails and a complete change of pace. My Blackberry died on Saturday, the replacement not up to the job. Blissfully so.

Oh I almost forgot my next trips. I'm off to Australia and New Zealand on Saturday 15 December and I can't wait. A family Christmas in Brisbane with Kez, Sasi  and Eve and Sasi's mum and dad. I'm so looking forward to meeting Eve's other grandparents, they must be lovely to have a daughter like Sasi. I'm in NZ very late on Christmas day until New Years day to get some Noah time. I hope he enjoys the Mickey Mouse collection I bought him in the Disney store in Miami. I also hope to catch up with Nick and Liberty, yet to be organised.

The other trip is one to New York, yes New York City! In springtime! I'm very excited, many exclamation marks excited! There is an opera to attend, some Broadway shows, jazz and blues clubs, the Empire State building, Battery Park, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, Jimmy Choo's and many other treats. I'm traveling with a New Yorker so will get the insiders guide. See why I'm excited. Photos and stories there will be aplenty.


Friday, 30 November 2012

And another rendition

I found this when looking too. I have heard Anna's voice before and wondered who it was, now I know. A wonderful talent especially given the circumstances. Check out this before watching, totally amazing:

An impromptu performance of Anna Grahame singing Bathe in the River with Don McGlashan during TVNZ rehearsals for TV1 New Years Countdown. Hollie Smith was late for rehearsal so Anna Grahame was lucky enough to step in without notice - hence not wearing any shoes/make up!

Memory lane

I had a wander down memory lane this evening. I was listening to my music and a Don Mc Glashan number came on. I search Youtube for it to share and found this. I love Hollie Smith and this was one of my favourites for a long time. The movie Number 2 is outstanding, a lovely slice of New Zealand life. So here is Hollie and some scenes from the movie. It's only a few weeks and I'm on my way home for my family fix, I can't wait.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Multitasking

What a week, the word multitask takes on a whole new meaning in my life at the moment. I'm not the best at multitasking. I prefer to start something and get it finished, or even almost finished, before starting the next task. This week that would have been a luxury. Monday started poorly after too much of a Sunday evening after racing.

Racing went okay we finished 4th overall, it was exciting especially the leg where I lost control of the spinnaker, the pole not wanting to go where I needed it to. We were in second place at the time, close to first. By the time we got sorted we were out the back but still upright. The celebrations after were fun, lots of discussion and sparring over who hit whom and why. They went on for a while, too long for a school night. My Monday muscles told me I'd worked hard.

After some consultation on Friday, the bill to amend the law was finished. The cabinet paper was written, the changes made and off it went to the Minister. I think it went to Cabinet today, a job finished after months of work. Today I was at the Ritz, presenting to a large group of people on a forum panel. Public speaking, not my favourite task. I got to speak to individual and small groups as well, in my element talking education to business folks.

The after party was nice, advertised as cocktails, I enjoyed a nice Wither Hills. The best of New Zealand wine, standing on a balcony enjoying the evening and eating yummy canapes. So my week consisted of HR in welcoming and inducting a new teacher and her family to the island; diplomacy in a multiagency meeting to set up greater collaboration; finishing the law project, almost; public speaking and generally networking; writing presentations and preparing information; and educating parents in a 2 hour evening workshop. I think that was enough, may be why I'm feeling a little tired now. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Comments

Oh dear, I was playing around on my blog this morning and checked the comments spam folder. Apologies to people who have posted a comment that I've not posted or replied to. I'm in the process of sifting out the advertising ones and those that are genuine. That may take some time. I suspect any with a website link go this route, I must check the folder more often. So please keep commenting and I'll keep writing!

I was having a play because it's Sunday and I have some down time, some brain break time, some laying in and reading time. It's lovely actually. I'm off sailing this afternoon, race 3 of the J22 Winter Series. It promises to be exciting, the wind forecast to be lively. Excellent.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Cruiser racing - Blue Runner

Some tight racing
Out in front


Spinnaker flying

What a weekend out on the water. Jen got some  good pics of us racing. The water was an amazing blue with the sand being kicked up by the rough waters. It may not look rough but the winds were quite fierce at times and the waves washed over the bow. Jen was on Yahoo Yahoo, our closest rival. We got really close at times, almost touching once. Thanks for sharing these Jen, much appreciated.


Some of the fleet

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Pirates Week....arrrah

Yes, the pirates here really do walk around going arrrah or some such similar sound. Jo and I went to Sunset House for dinner after today's lively sail and there were piles of pirates. I wonder what a large group of pirates are really called, a crew of pirates? I think a pile of pirates sounds much more likely. The pirates we saw are a regular part of Cayman's Pirates Week. They come from Seattle every year in their very piratey outfits and go around harassing (in a good, friendly pirate way) people out and about in Cayman.

I've had a quiet Pirates Week so far, Friday evening's amazing fireworks display settling things off in typical fashion. The street were full of folks, locals and tourists, enjoying the cooler weather and the festivities. Yes, the weather is cooler, very much cooler. It's too cold for me to swim at the moment and even the North Sound water is chilly. A few rums were had, a few tales told then it was out onto the high seas for me.

Sunday was cruiser racing, the last in the series. We celebrated at Kaibo for a while then sailed home. Today we took the J22 out for a training sail. The northerly winds have been too fierce for us to go out often so this afternoon things calmed a little so we took our chance. Mike did some training with us, very helpful. I'm not sure how many gibes we did with the spinnaker flying out front but my arms are feeling it now, the joy of being foredeck.

This short week, great having Monday off, should be a social one with an invite to East End's Heritage Day celebrations on Thursday. Pirates Week is also Heritage week and the day off is for Veteran's Day, thanks Carol for the information . All the districts have their heritage celebrations, a celebration of being Caymanian. The food, the music, the dancing and of course the rum. I'm not tempted by the turtle stew but fish soup, conch and lobster Caymanian spicy style will go down well. Photos may follow.

Good night from Cayman

Food for thought

While I'm not a particularly political person, injustice has always upset me. One of the best things about living like I do, moving around in different circles, in different countries, is that I get to dispel some of the myths about the lives of others. I can do this because I've had conversations with people from different cultures, religions and ethnic backgrounds and people from different cultures living in different countries. Very enlightening if you take the time to listen to their stories, more enlightening if you can relate in some small way.

The man in this clip can most certainly relate to what he's talking about, what he's lived, what he's ashamed of and is working towards improving. This clip is a little over an hour long, one of the most humbling hours I've spent in a while. I actually miss talking about the Middle East, about Muslims, Suni and Shiaa, about Palestine and Israel about the current and past histories and troubles with the people who have historically struggled, been misunderstood and vilified. Hearing such an honest view, an insider view, and listening to the possible solutions was enlightening.

I've been to Israel, well to Jerusalem and the countryside between there and the Jordanian border. My visit left me with food for thought and I will write about it here when I've unpacked how I really felt about it, how it impacted on me and my later conversations with a group of Palestinians from Ramallah in Wadi Ram, Jordan. There haven't been many places in the world where I've been afraid, Jerusalem was one of those places.

For now, here's Miko Peled speaking earlier this year in Seattle. Thanks for sharing this Kate, my fellow traveller and photographer. It got me thinking.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

An afternoon off

Yesterday was fun, an afternoon off, time out on the water. A nice play and lots of gibing just for fun. Dave and Helen have just bought a J22 and we took it out for a shake down. It was interesting sailing on a different boat with things in different place, luckily the wind was light. Drinks, chips and postmortems when we'd packed everything away and then off to Debbie's art exhibition opening.

Glad rags and a bit of lippy, a different look to the shorts and hat. Debbie is a very talented artist and has also made art her business. She owns my favourite shop on island, Pure Art. There's always a cheery welcome at Pure Art and there's heaps to choose from, small and large gifts, home wares and of course the most amazing photographs and art works.

After the exhibition opening, some of us trotted off to the quiz at Lone Star. Fun, food and a beer, a great end to the day. I was quite exhausted this morning after packing so much into the afternoon and evening. This weekend promises to be interesting. Cruiser racing on the open seas was to be the order of the weekend, that's now been changed to a North Sound one due to the high winds.

It's also Pirates Week a festival that lasts for this long weekend and through the week and the following weekend. It's Heritage Week next week, a week to celebrate Cayman culture, food, music and history. There's a piece on this on the website linked above. So if last year was anything to go by, it should be a fun week or so of food and drink and partying.

Steel pan fun on one of last years floats

Sunday, 4 November 2012

New blog

My team and I have set up a blog to share information and hopefully engage parents in discussion about their children and education. Although it's not quite as developed yet as we would like, it's time to share it. We are currently writing a series on the literate child, how children learn to read and write and how parents can support them on this important journey. Our hope is that we can begin the discussion on best practices in literacy learning and most importantly how we can support children to naturally acquire these life skills.

We will also be sharing resources, links, ideas and fun things for families and children to do. It's a work in progress, your comments, contributions and engagement at www.ecceunit.blogspot.com would be appreciated. Lets support children to get back to enjoying their childhood, to have time to play, do and be in their own time. As David Elkind said way back in the 1980s in his book The Hurried Child, we force our kids to grow up far too fast, hurrying children through their childhoods and depriving them of the right to play. I was impressed with his observations in the 1980s, I continue to be impressed with what he has to say and it is much more relevant now than it was then.

Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, writing and count.
Childhood is a small window of time to learn and develop at the pace that is right for each individual child.


Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Hobbit



I can't wait to see the latest Peter Jackson movie! I love the book and have read it to my kids, we had a special, illustrated version. An excellent bed time story. Enjoy the lovely glimpses of home, my mountains and the countryside I know so well.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Lucky

I'm feeling a bit lucky this evening as I watch the destruction that missed the Cayman's, Sandy the super storm. I feel for those affected, and there are millions by the looks of the reach of the storm. The photos of New York are sad, Battery Park under water and the subway flooded. NY is on my soon to go list, I may have to wait a while until things settle.

It's got cold here, okay so 25C is not cold to most folks but to me it's not that warm either. I needed a pashmina this evening to sit outside, unfortunately I left mine at home so I had to suffer a little. I may even have to wear my big fluffy red dressing gown I bought in Al Ain. It's funny how just a small fluctuation in temperature is noticeable.

It's almost halloween, a big thing for the kids and adults here. Last year I had to ignore the door and hide upstairs as I had nothing to offer, this year I have some bags of chocolate things. Chocolate things because I amy get to eat any that are left over. I have on definite, 3 year old Jon and his mum and dad are coming to visit. Jon is just three and when we had his dress rehearsal last night, he did a pirate striptease. that hook just had to go. I hope he can keep the outfit on for the evening, he's very entertaining.

One of the beautiful bulls guarding an old church on the way to Lake Titikaca

Monday, 29 October 2012

Busyness

There seems to have been a busyness surrounding me lately. I'm getting some good down time today, the rest of the week has been hectic. Actually October until now has been a bit crazy. Plenty of fun things like sailing and socialising, plenty more work things. Work, when I raise my head from the details, I see the bigger picture. A big picture that bodes well for the future here.

We are in the process of laying the foundation for the next five years, a strategic direction that must increase the well being of the children here as they progress through their education. The direction is even more far reaching. Friday was humbling, sitting in a room with a group of dedicated professionals who debated and negotiated to make changes to the law of the land.

I took some time to reflect on this, reflecting on the people I get to work with every day. I looked in from the outside, this New Zealander sharing ideas of best education practice with the Government movers and shakers. Humbling and exciting, knowing we are further forward than we had thought. By mid November early childhood care and education should have a place in law, regulations will have been drafted and policy set. It's been a journey, we are almost there. On the coat tails of this major change will come other changes, easier to set once this is passed.

On this journey I've learnt such a lot. Amazing experiences only possible when working in a small system. A small amount of people doing a major job. This type of reform, these changes, in a big system would have many, many people dealing withe details and driving the process. That's not so here, the same amount of work with a fraction of the people.

So that explains the busyness a little. I'm never too busy to talk to my family and I got to talk to almost everyone last evening. Noah was not very interested, too busy for grandma. I did get a smile and a quick chat, he's growing so fast and looks older with some of his curls gone. Eve was helping dad with the new TV. Clever wee girl can say grandma and likes to chat with me. I suspect we may be in our own conversations, she is so gorgeous with beautiful big blue eyes.

I got to welcome Liberty to the family, Nick's fiance. A new addition I will get to meet when I go home for Christmas. I'm getting excited about going, it's not too long now. The best news is that some of my family want to come and visit me here, very exciting news. I can't wait to show them this beautiful place, can't wait to spend time with them relaxing by the pool or out on the water.

This ramble must end, I'm racing this afternoon. Luckily the wind has died a little, making sailing possible. Not so lucky for those who experienced Hurricane Sandy and lost family and friends or those who are waiting for her to hit. We got whipped a little by the tail, I wouldn't want to have been hit any harder. Take care out in the world.

Inca treasure, Lima

Lima lions

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Normal transmission

I've been really busy lately with work, sailing and social activities so this space has been neglected somewhat. I still have stories and photos from my last two trips to share and now have another on offer, Jamaica to go sailing. Actually sailing to Jamaica to get there is on the cards, exciting and a little scary.

There will be more stories, normal transmission will resume soon. In the mean time it would be nice to hear from my readers. I see plenty of you are visiting, it would be good to hear from you, to learn a bit about where you are from and what you think of my humble musings. I will reply, promise.

One of the amazing treasures in the museum in Lima, Peru

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

A birthday treat

I didn't really get to finish my last post, Skype intervened. I love my chats with friends and family. They keep me grounded, knowing there are people out in the world who think of me as I think of them. I will return to the story soon and for now here are a couple more photos from my time on and around Lake Titicaca. It was funny, I was going to take this out of my itinerary and decided to take a couple of extra days of leave so I could leave it in, an excellent choice. 

While the celebrations in the photo below were not actually in honour of my birthday, I celebrated along with the people of AmantanĂ­ at their special celebration. I felt very privileged to able to watch, hopefully unobtrusively. They had a type of May pole set up with ribbons and danced around these for the entertainment of the elders and dignitaries who were seated alongside the village square in the shade. Our guide explained the significance of how they were dressed, the clothing and tightly knitted belts and hats, denoting their place within the community. 

Their marital status was declared by the belts they had knitted that contained within it the hair of their wives. Knitting is a highly prized skill and a man must show his prospective father in law his knitting in order to be approved as a husband. The quality of the knitting really counts. As the other picture shows the men are the main providers of the most amazing knitted goods. I don't think I saw many men there who were not knitting as they chatted with each other. The women manned the stalls. I bought Noah and Eve a hat each, not sure if they will wear them, they are a work of art so worthy of sharing.




Monday, 1 October 2012

More from Peru

I've spent the evening deleting old photos, quite a few old photos. Enough to import some more of my Peru pics. I have backed these ones up, just need to trust my hard drive, so I only kept the precious ones.

My birthday this year was very special, spent on Lake Titicaca. Looking at the photos for the day, I was thrilled with the ones I'd kept. I had had to do an on camera delete to free up some space, something I don't like to do. The ones I've kept capture the day so it worked out okay this time. Note to self, take an extra memory card or two.

The photos are from the floating islands or as Wikipedia describes:

"Titicaca is notable for a population of people who live on the Uros, a group of 44 or so artificial islands made of floating reeds (totora, a reed that abounds in the shallows of the lake). These islands have become a major tourist attraction for Peru, drawing excursions from the lakeside city of Puno. Their original purpose was defensive, and they could be moved if a threat arose. Many of the islands contain watchtowers largely constructed of reeds."

Stepping off the boat onto these spongy, reed islands is interesting. It takes a bit of time to gain your balance. They are surprisingly dry, not as damp as I thought they might be although it was a warm day. The living huts are small and I wondered how warm they would be in winter. Here are some pics of the people and the place. The men are showing us how they build the islands while the women sit and sew their lovely handcrafts.

The women of Uros

Taxi!

This is how we build them

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Feeling a little clever

I've just set up a blog for my team at work, one where we can communicate and share information with families. I've done this a couple of times before for friends to begin them blogging, this time it's a forum for us to manage so I set up much more than I normally would. While it's not live yet and it's a simple set up, I'm really excited to get this up and running. I'll include the link here as soon as I have it cleared to go live.

I also have a free day today, nothing planned. That's a bit of a luxury for me. Sunday promises to be busy with sailing and/or cricket depending on timing. My book and the couch are calling, or maybe the lounger down by the pool. The sun's out after a couple of wet days this week so I may as well go and enjoy it. Happy Saturday!
Stair to my roof terrace, Panama

Monday, 24 September 2012

Another thing off the bucket list.....

When I left the UAE I wanted to get a T shirt that said:

UAE: I survived the drive!

I think these would sell like hot cakes to the expats who negotiate the highways and byways, taking their lives in their hands, on a daily basis. Today I had another T shirt moment:

I scored in the West Indies: Ana played cricket mun!

Ana, that is I, played cricket today. Apart from backyard cricket with my boys, I haven't played since high school. It's been a while. It was hot, we got to bat first thankfully. The line up didn't get down to me, it was 20/20. I managed to do some useful fielding. I thought about how much my kids would laugh seeing me out there in a uniform about 3 sizes too big for me, saving boundaries. I didn't usually get to bat in those backyard days either. We came second, almost got there but not quite. It was fun, and they've asked this fill in pretender back. Best I brush up on my bowling and batting this week! 

It's been a busy weekend, so much for a quiet one with no sailing. Mayhem is shinier, well one side is. I had some fantastic Skype time with the kids and friends, it's what I do on Saturday evenings. There was some amazing thunder and lightening lighting up the sky. Thunder so loud it was impossible to sleep through. The rain that follows is torrential, the sun immediately after intensely burning. I like this unpredictable place, enjoy the extremes. 

Another Antwerp Zoo photo, I could have watched the hippos for hours. 

Here's looking at you kid

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Slow Saturday

Some days are just a delicious luxury. A sleep in, finishing an excellent book over breakfast on the balcony over looking the pool.......sigh.

Much later I write after a hectic day of getting stuff done. Not exactly what I had planned this morning on a day when I knew I had nothing pressing to do. Cayman shuts on a Sunday, no supermarket, no shops, no services, so Saturdays are the day to get things done. So I go the boat polish, did the groceries, had a beauty treatment, walked the dogs with Didge, had lunch with Jo, got my vitamins and chatted to friends.

This evening is peaceful. Noah was in bed so talked to Tim on Skype. I'm just waiting for the others to come online for a chat. Writing while I'm waiting. Last week was one I don't fancy repeating. Long hours at work, poor eating and feeling totally exhausted after the sailing on the weekend. Slightly battered and bruised. The chiropractor put the bits that were not quite right back in place, the bruises meant long sleeves and trousers for the week.

Mayhem caused some mayhem on the water on Sunday, two collisions and lots of shouting. The racing was fierce and unfortunately a couple of errors cost us places. All was well at the after match function, tales were told and the order established over a few rums. We have a couple of weeks off, time to polish the boat and get some much needed practice in. I may even get a social sail.

I've been culling out my photos to make room for more and came across a series from Antwerp Zoo. This is one of my favorites, I must return one day soon so I can see my lovely Belgian family.


Sunday, 16 September 2012

Stuff

Stuff is a website with New Zealand stuff. There are links to all the major newspapers so I can read The Press online, the latest national and international news, horoscopes and quizzes and a travel section. A week or so ago I was browsing the travel section and spotted a request for photos from favourite places. How could I resist.

Today I got a link from them and here was my latest favourite place  for everyone to see. You may have to scroll down, it's the one about Peru. I would love to do more travel writing. My time writing for Oasis Living was fantastic. I had time then to write and travel was easier. Dubai is a great place to get anywhere from. Now I'm a little more challenged at work so don't seem to have the brain space. I know it soon come, as we say here in the Caymans!

Yesterday was a day out of the bag, light winds became slightly more than light and we had a fantastic day out on the water. Racing was fierce and there were some close calls, how the boats don't touch is a miracle. There is a lot of skill involved as well of course. We are a new team with the newest member having her first races with us today. Luckily she's a little more experienced than me. Our results showed the importance of set up and practice. We had had some things changed over the summer and things like the new pole lift worked a treat.

So fourth, third, third and a third overall with 1 point off second was an excellent result. There was plenty of the fleet out, eight or nine boats so the results were even more sweet for us. The postmortems over rum, BBQ in hand took us well into the evening. Another day of racing to come today, more dodging each other to get the best wind and fastest lines. And there's a whole season of racing to come. Can't wait!

Mayhem in the sunset

Final polishing, red keels do go faster!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The winning team

Well some of us! We won on Sunday, the Blue Runner team. Celebration was required of course. Here we are relaxing on a social evening sail, not heeled over with the spinnaker close to the water. From the left, Sue, me, Jo and Bruce. Thanks for the picture Ann!


Monday, 10 September 2012

Watery weekend

A weekend well spent out and about on the water. I must be getting fit with all this exercise. There is of course lots of sitting down as well, today it got exciting as we heeled over spinnaker almost touching the water. We had to to win this to get the series lead, and win we did. There was celebrating, food and drink had by all. Teri cooked me my own special vege lasagna, I tend to miss out when there's a BBQ, and I got to take the left overs for lunch tomorrow.

The J22 season starts next weekend so I'm going to be busy for a while. I hope to sail to Jamaica to race at the beginning of December, an adventure that happens most years. For now it's bed time, a big day tomorrow at work.



Wandering people, Machu Picchu 





Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Christmas

Oh dear, I suspect I've left it a bit late to book my Christmas holiday. It's only just September, who would have thought that. I've booked to Brisbane, it was expensive but that's life. Try getting from Brisbane to Christchurch return, the flights are limited and the cost extortionate. I've never paid $1200NZD to get across the Tasman before and the flights have a stop somewhere so they take nine plus hours instead of three and a half.

Tonight I thought I'd talk to someone in Air NZ and see if they could help me. I've just had nearly 20 minutes on the phone to a very helpful lady in their Brisbane office. She listened and helped me sort out my flights, she had me laughing at the processes and gave sound advice. It's fantastic to have someone who cares enough to take the time and give some real options.

I have now booked my return flight so I can make the LA connection, I just have to get to Christchurch. I'm getting really excited about going home and seeing my lovely family, especially the two small ones. It's all on, two weeks of holiday with four days of travel, eight flights and endless time in airports. It will most definitely be worth it for flat grandma. And from my last trip,

The Andes from San Pedro Church, Chinchero



Monday, 3 September 2012

Mayhem

Mayhem was in action yesterday and today, our boat is back with it's shiny red keel and underside. The water beads off the bottom as we skip across the water at top speed. Yesterday was a short practice with a new crew member and the wind was lively. Lots of fun and the kite went up and came down without mishap. A nice couple of hours on the water.

Today the winds were lighter, it was fine when we went out at 10.30, not so when we got back many hours later. My dragon boating skills came onto play as I paddled us towards the wind we we could see it on the water, think Ancient Mariner! We got the kite flying as soon as we could, just to make us go forward.

We sailed over to Kaibo and, although we had no money between us, thought that we would know at least one person willing to share their riches with us so we could buy a bowl of chips. Alas no, we shared the crackers and cheese I'd brought. then we spotted Dean, another member of our crew, arriving with his family. We chatted for a while as we watched the storm we were dodging run the length of the island, complete with thunder and impressive lightening.

We finally made it back to the club only to find some lovely friends there with a rum and BBQ ready for us. Jo had called ahead to let them know we may need a tow so they decided to wait for us, a nice social end to the afternoon.

My week last week was extremely long and stressful with days of dawn to dark work and eating poorly. I was totally exhausted by Friday. My house guest moved out on Saturday morning, just before I went sailing. Getting out on the water revived me, my relaxation and relief from work. Sailing takes my mind off everything else. Hard to believe I'm picking up one of the new teachers at 7.20 then heading in for another long day, oh well there's always next weekend's cruiser race to look forward to.

Baby Cakes in action

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Life!

Oh my goodness, what a day! I'm feeling quite exhausted after setting up classrooms, moving furniture, redistributing resources and generally keeping a smiling face while doing the mostly impossible. We had ordered resources, they are delayed with tropical storm Isaac. We ordered furniture, the budget intervened. We designed outdoor areas, the budget again. Sigh, this project is a little tough!

Then there's the staffing. I can't believe that we have everyone in place for the year, well almost. There has been so begging going on and I think that when the kids start on Wednesday that all will be well. On the plus side, it's been fantastic being able to unpack the resources we do have and set up the classes, very exciting. I love working with teachers, they are so resourceful.

The other good news of today, Mayhem is almost ready to be back in the water with a nice red keel and lots of new shiny bits for us to play with. Jo and I have had with-drawls, not helped by my missing the Saturday evening outing on Blue Runner. This weekend we should be out on the water, I can't wait. Race season starts soon so we need some practice runs.

It seems so long since my small break. Here are two shots from Macchu Pichu.



Sunday, 26 August 2012

Technology

Well, it rocks really. Can you imagine if you were told in the 1970s or even the 1980s or 90s that we would be able to talk to someone on the other side of the world and see them as we talked? It was Star Trek "beam me up Scotty" science fiction. Today I've talked to a couple of people on Skype, I do this most weekends catching up with family and friends.

Today I was looking for a clip to show someone a little about New Zealand humour. I realised that much of who we are can be shown through advertisements, through technology that's been around a while. Those advertisements that were there before remote controls could fast forward them. I came across this montage and it made me laugh as I remembered these gems. When I was In Peru, I stayed with Christine and Mal, friends of multiple friends and I shared some clips. They are Australian so got it, many don't. Here's a selection, good old technology!

Monday, 20 August 2012

More of Chinchero

The mighty Andes at sunset

On the road to Chinchero
The photo above is the one of those I took to capture the Andes in all their magnificence. I don't think I succeeded except to say that I wasn't exactly up close and personal, more looking across the valleys from the height of New Zealand's highest mountain. The landscape is a shot from the bus, not ideal for photographs and this one doesn't bear close scrutiny. The countryside is beautiful, low foothills, fields and lakes the foreground for the bigger mountains. 

12,000 feet

A sign of the conquerors 

To the Andes beyond

Homeward bound 

I traveled to Cusco from Panama and although I still have Panama stories, I need  to write the stories in order of the photos I can down load. I was in Cusco for a few days and went on day trips from there.

Cusco, often spelled Cuzco, is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region as well as the Cuzco Province. Its elevation is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft). Wikipedia

I spent the first day, after arriving at stupid o'clock from Lima, wandering in a tired daze. Really, what was I thinking. It's cool sleeping in airports with your pack under your head when you're 20, not cool when you're ever so slightly older. My flight from Panama arrived in Lima in the early hours and I then had to recheck for Cusco. A few hours dozing on the seats I thought. Not a great plan, especially as there was a hotel at the airport, fancy that. I stayed there on my last night, an excellent choice.

Oh well, I was there. The hostel people were lovely. They arranged everything and gave me advice on where to go in town as well. The wandering was fantastic except for the nagging headache one gets at altitude. It's an oddly spaced out feeling. 

The second day I went on the Sacred Valley journey. Their description:



Our Sacred Valley tour begins at 8:30am. We visit Pisaq´s archaeological site and handicraft market. On our way to Urubamba, we go by colourful towns as Coya, Lamay, and Calca. After lunch in Urubamba, we sightsee the ancient inka town and fortress of Ollantaytambo. In Chinchero town, we visit the San Pedro Church. Our tour ends in Cusco´s main square.

Fantastic is all I can say, what an amazing day out. The final stop was the one that possibly impressed me the most. The photos are all from Chinchero. We arrived there at sunset, 12,000 plus feet up and watched the day turn to dusk while exploring the town. I had some wow moments, like walking into San Pedro church. I really did not expect to see such an ornate interior. It seemed out of character with everything else we had seen, and I suppose it was out of character, as it is the evidence of the brutal colonising that occurred when the Spanish arrived in these parts. 


I could have stayed in Chinchero for longer, I suspect it would take me a while to capture the place properly. The light was amazing, so clear. As it was, this stop was just a small peek in the window of life that illustrates the dichotomy that seems common in colonised countries. The mix of the old life and the new, the mixing of the peoples as they become one and the differences each brings from their lives before each other. Capturing the sunset over the Andes from this place was a challenge and I hope to find that photo to share soon. 

San Pedro

Gone sailing....


I have wonderful people out in the world who worry when I don't write and this month I haven't written much. Di shared this with me when we Skyped this morning. It's not because I'm not okay, I'm very okay at the moment. I just spend as much of my spare time as I can out sailing and recharging my batteries. Yesterday we went out on Blue Runner, had a sail, a swim, scrubbed the bottom to make it go faster for the next race and sailed back in the dark. A lovely day out with old and new friends, one who had just flown in that morning.

The scrubbing. Snorkels and masks on and armed with scrubbing brushes we did this out in the sound. Hard work, especially with the leaky snorkel I had, but needed. We must win the next race to be in the overall lead so every bit counts. I told Bruce he could use this as a tourist attraction, exercise and tone while enjoying the North Sound. I suspect he quite liked the idea of bikinied maidens scrubbing.

Last weekend Pete took out his catamaran and I was crew. Crew on a Dart is the one in the trapeze hanging out there, toes only on board. It was a blast, scooting fast across the North Sound toward lunch at Kaibo. No such luck, the mainsail halyard broke, that's kind of like your motor falling out while traveling fast, and we stopped suddenly. I went flying and landed facing backwards on a pontoon, circumnavigating the boat apparently. Pete thankfully stayed on. Lunch on the back burner and yet so close, we cruised back to the club and fixed the problem. I have a good bruise to prove the drama, tons of fun.

So that's part of the no writing thing. Mayhem, Jo's and my boat, is in the shop at the moment so we are having J22 with drawls but the race season starts soon so it will be all fixed by then. I'm having a home day today, well for now anyway. I've uploaded photos, put a pile of others onto my external drive to make room and am deleting the ones I can. It all takes time. I will post some Peru photos after this entry, promise. 

Sunday, 19 August 2012

It's Saturday!

And I'm procrastinating. In fact, I could win a medal at the procrastination olympics if there was such a thing. I'm feeling a little lethargic. Could be from my week, far too many hours at work. Everything urgent. So much needed to begin the school year. Today I have work to do, not urgent but stuff best done while in the peace and quiet of home, the uninterrupted peace and quiet.

I'm having computer issues, not the computer's fault. User issues. My hard drive is so full I can't upload any of my Panama and Peru photos. This morning I've been going through and deleting some photos to make space. Funny, when they are on a computer you don't really look at the photos very often, not like when they are in an album on your coffee table. I bought two albums in Peru and intend to fill these soon.

It's been a trip down memory lane. The trip to Petra and my Bath and Salisbury trips got a bit axed today. Not before I'd wandered through the photos, remembering Sue and Di's company. Remembering my good friends I haven't seen in a while. It must be time for a visit to my Belgian family. Sue took this photo of me at Petra. It's funny, I don't have many pictures of me out and about, just of the places. A new friend I met in Panama had commented on the same thing as I took a photo of him.

I didn't follow advice so didn't get any photos of me in Peru. I wanted one on my birthday while out and about on Lake Titikaka but was a bit shy asking someone to do that. Not like me, it was a lovely reflective day where I preferred my own company to talking. Also not like me. Today is meant to be one where I can procrastinate so I will, although I must get out of my PJs so I can sit in the sun and finish my book.

The Treasury at Petra

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Teachers, lots of teachers

Teachers have long summer holidays, I used to. Teachers enjoy coming back to work feeling refreshed, I used to. Teachers like that time at the start of the year when they have their classroom to themselves, I used to. Teachers enjoy meeting the new crop of bright eyed youngsters, I used to. Teachers enjoy meeting the parents and learning a bit more about their pride and joys, I used to.

Today I got to meet the new group of teachers who have come to the island for the new school year. I had met many of them through the interview process, knew their CVs and interest well. It was so lovely to put faces to the names and get the chance for a informal conversation. There's plenty to do to get ready for the new school year, long hours to keep the many plates spinning. Multitasking, not one of my best strengths.

I had hoped to have added a couple of Peru and Panama stories by now but that may have to wait for the weekend. Sleep is needed, much sleep before the early start and meeting the new group all together. It promises to be an excellent day tomorrow, lots of chatting and getting to know this new group better. Teachers love to talk teaching, I still do.
Pohutukawa, a splash of colour



Friday, 3 August 2012

Up high

I wasn't really aware that I might get altitude sickness from being up above sea level. I was told that drinking coca tea, keeping hydrated and not drinking fizzy drinks were some things that helped. After the big day out, travelling up to 12,000 feet, I had a wicked headache and nausea. It was a funny, spaced out feeling. One I don't want again. Panadol and some tablets from the pharmacy helped plus a good nights sleep.

The next day was another early start, the trip up to Machu Picchu. I was so worried I wouldn't be well enough but I woke up feeling fine. The train trip up was fantastic. Beautiful scenery and the bonus of good campany. We chatted, helpful that they all spoke English. It's really hard to describe the feeling of looking over this very special place. I supect that after my long bus trip and sightseeing today, the words are not there so I will wait until I have photos.

Today I've come to Puno from Cosco, at a higher altitude to Cosco. It was a long trip, stopping along the way to see some very special sights. I cannot believe just how much there is to see here, the history is humbling espcially the evidence of a brutal colonisation. The people here are fantastic, friendly and welcoming to these tourists taking a peek at their reality.

Today there was a point when I realised that we could have been driving through the McKenzie country in New Zealand. Rolling tussock hills flanked the road with snowy mountain tops showing above. The road wended its way through the river valley, a river that feeds the mighty Amazon. The hint that I was elsewhere came with the small settlements of brown and red adobe homes clustered on the roadside and beyond. Evidence of the argricultural focus in this area was every where. People tending stock, crops growing and hay storred in corrals.

For the next two days I'm staying at Totorani Inn. Another lovely hostel with very friendly and helpful people. Tomorrow I'm on a tour around Lake Titicaca, a nice way to celebrate my birthday.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Hola!

Hola from Peru, sunny but chilly Peru! There are many stories to tell and photos to share but for now, on a borrowed computer with limited time I will keep it short. I think learning Spanish to a conversational level just may have been useful for this journey. I often get the giggles when a Spanish speaker and I are communicating. We both talk throwing in a little of the other´s language and hope there is some level of understanding. There is sometimes, sometimes there´s just more giggling and waving of arms as we solicit help. I had help in Panama, Margo to the rescue. There are stories from Panama to, fancy getting kidnapped by some musicians. Almost Almost Famous!

It´s been a fantastic few days here and tomorrow I head to Macchu Pichu first thing in the morning, a three plus hour journey. After today´s climbs up Inca ruins, I´m feeling a little jaded. It was awesome being at 12,000 feet and seeing folks just living their lives much as we do at sea level. There was impressive snow on the high Andes although none in the valleys due to the proximity to the Equator. It´s still very cold for this hot house flower!

Bed calls and someone else is waiting for a go on the computer. Who needs an iPad, just another thing to fit in my backpack!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Off tomorrow

It's been an interesting day in Cayman. A big power outage has meant some subtle changes to my day. Luckily my work has a generator, others are not so fortunate. I just hope that the planes still fly if the power is still off tomorrow. My plans to buy an iPad today didn't eventuate so I suspect there will be no posts while I'm traveling. I can't wait to head off on this adventure, I'm so ready for a break and some down time.

Friday, 20 July 2012

July

Oh dear, I just realised today that it's only 7 more sleeps, 4 more working days until I head to Peru via Panama. It was a bit of a shock, where has July gone! I also have so much work to do before I go that those sleeps might turn into all nighters. So much for the resolution to work shorter hours and exercise more, out the the window for now I suspect. At least I'll get some exercise where I'm going, looking forward to doing some wandering.

I hope to be staying here in Panama, hope because I only got back to them tonight. At least Peru is fully organised and I'm staying here. I can't wait to see all the sights in both places. The good thing about Panama is that I can go back easily as it's a direct flight from Cayman. I need to get packing I suppose, not my favourite job, light is the key. I'm not planning to take the Mac, I may suffer with drawls. Or I might just buy an iPad to travel with. Decisions, decisions. 

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Writing

I've been wondering why I've not been writing so much lately. Is it that I'm not doing much to write about? Well there's a little of that. There's only so many sailing posts I can write, although now I have a small camera to take I can at least add photos.

Is it that I have writers block? Maybe a little of that too. More because my work requires me to write a lot and much of my time is spent in front of a screen. Writing gets to be a bus man's holiday rather than a joy. Things here are really settled and really social as well. Time is an issue, also linked to to work. Long and hectic days leave me feeling a little exhausted at night.

Work, a series of major projects that must succeed under the watchful eye of the public. My latest, and that runs alongside all the others my team and I are managing, involves recruitment; professional development; curriculum development; school and Department of Education liaison; construction and classroom space; indoor and outdoor environments; resourcing and resources; the media and information sharing; and most importantly children and their families.

Just as I think one thing is secured, the next arises. Luckily I have a fantastic team although the current summer holidays has that somewhat depleted. It can be a little stressful and take all my brain space. Late finishes mean eating out and late home comings. There are plenty of positives, I now know how well I can multitask, having many different solutions in my head at one time.

And of course, as the ad on the radio says: "We know you work hard, but you do it in paradise". So true. While I do spend part of my weekends working, catching up on those things that require a peaceful space, I do also get to lay by the pool and go sailing. Yesterday, after a quick pop in to work, Jo and I lunched at Icoa. Two sets of friends came by, Ginny and her daughter joined us, sharing the very yummy lemon raspberry tart that's one of their specialties. A social time with lovely people.

Paradise, I looked for that when I moved house. Somewhere with either a beach or nicer surrounds than my previous place. Sunrise is a lovely complex, I have to walk past the pool to get home so my first priority is to get back down for a swim. It's summer, a nice mild version of last years humid heat, so the days a re a little longer and it's okay to swim in the evening. I'm having a house warming party on Tuesday evening, Wednesday is a holiday so it's okay.

I'm off sailing soon, out to visit our friend the dolphin and socialise with the cruiser crews after. It could be a late one. The stories might have to wait until next weekend.

I wander past this......

to get to this
All is well in my world, I trust all is well in yours too. Please leave comments if you feel inspired, I'd love to hear from you. 

Cruising

Baby Cakes in action

Cheers at Stingray City

The dolphin was right under this boat
Last weekend Pete and Marie invited me out on Cheers, their new pride and joy, for an afternoon sail. The plan was to head to Stingray City to check out the stingrays then onto Starfish Point for a swim. Cheers is a little bigger than Mayhem, a little smaller than Blue Runner so plenty of room for the 6 man crew. There was lots to do, sailing alongside Baby Cakes and another friend.

Snorkeling with stingrays is not my favourite thing to do so I was pleased that we were in deeper water and they were chilling out on the sandy bottom. There were two really big ones, with over 6 feet wingspans. Apparently thrashing around in the water wakes them up. It's disconcerting when these huge creatures come and rub up against you, especially when thoughts of Steve Irwin come to mind. I bolted up the ladder with Jo close behind. Not very brave, I know.

We sailed on to Starfish point and anchored for a swim. Marie and I swum ashore, treading carefully with heaps of small sea urchins on the sea floor. There were others anchored, lots of action as they had a visitor. Our friendly wild dolphin was swimming around the boats. Despite warnings in the media not to swim with him, we joined the others. From a distance. This dolphin is huge and impossible to photograph with my happy snappy.

When we left, he came too. Swimming alongside us, racing us as we picked up speed flying the spinnaker. He came right up to my side, leapt out of the water and splashed me. I'm certain he smiled as he did it then dashed under the boat to splash the crew on the other side. It's such a privilege to have him alongside, amazing really that he is so playful and responsive. I had my hands full so didn't get any photos, no problem. We're back out racing tomorrow and he's sure to pick us up just off Boobie Quay where he seems to hang out. 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Miami adventures

Last weekends flying trip to Miami was a bit of a treat in many ways. Long hours at work meant that travelling on Saturday was not an option, a long weekend meant a Sunday/Monday trip was possible. Jo and I got to the airport on time despite this person setting her alarm for 5.30pm not am. Could have been nasty, except for my reliable body clock.

We arrived at Miami Airport, 30 minutes later we were on the road in our convertible. Yep, a minor miracle. When we arrived in the immigration hall we looked at each other, wondering if the world had ended when we were in the air. At the very least there must have been some catastrophe that meant others hadn't flown. There we were in a very quiet place with only our plane load present, never been seen before if you believe those present to witness.

Miami International is notorious for delays, 3 or 4 hour delays. Sunday morning last week there were no queues, no people and very friendly immigration staff. One might say quite flirty. The young officer spent time looking though my passport after I'd been finger printed. He studied the pages, read the visas, nodded and glanced at me then back at my small New Zealand book like it was an interesting novel.

Then he smiled. "I love to look at the stamps in people's passports to see where they've been," he said. "Yours is the best yet, so many places I never get to see in other passports, wow."

We chatted a bit about travelling and interesting countries, he stamped my passport then it was Jo's turn. That's when he got flirty. I waited for Jo just beyond the area, he said it was okay to come back and wait for my friend. Asked us what our weekend plans were. We giggled just a little then headed for the way out and the no queue to the outside line. Again a very friendly man who smiled and chatted, appreciating that we were on a shopping mission.

The rental car pick up was equally smooth, the upgrade to a Mustang convertible an easy choice. Off we roared in Thelma and Louise style, me in the driver's seat. We were still giggling just a little as we used our sat nav to find our way to the hotel. South Beach was the next stop, lunch on the side walk and a bit of shopping as we wandered to the beach.

How could I resist Amalfi prawn on Israeli couscous with arugula for lunch? Yum yum, and especially the fresh Italian bread, proper bread that is not quite present on Cayman. We sat and watched people, looked at the fashions, important research for a shopping trip. Over lunch we decided that a trip towards the Keys might be in order. We had the car, lets go drive.

Oh no, I didn't have my camera! With drawls are not nice, we found a camera shop and I managed to buy a hand bag size happy snappy. Perfect for those moments when my big cameras are not around. The lovely camera shop man was very helpful. Hailing from Gent in Belgium, he was most surprised to  meet this kiwi who knew Belgium so well. We chatted a while and off I went, happy with my new purchase.

We had a play it forward moment at South Beach. A nice young couple gave us a parking ticket valid until evening, asking that we pass it on if we left early. We were in the process of trying to work out how the roof went up in the car, the young man also knew where that button was, much to our embarrassment. 

We drove off, happy campers and went as far as we felt like, not quite to the end. We dined on fish as you do in the Keys and then drove back. Sunday evening is traffic jam time, we relaxed and discovered that one must put the top up just before the mosquito's fill the car. Slow driving made us sweet ladies mozzie magnets. Turning the heater on helped, not enough to stop the blood filled pests from tormenting us. Who would have thought. My new glasses gave me bionic night vision so we got back safely to the hotel, just in time to enjoy a nice cold one.

The next day was shopping, lots of shopping including a trip to the Home Depot. That was fun, a roof ladder later we were off to the clothes and shoe shops. We had fun with the ladder, fitting it in the car was interesting and the race to the check in eventful. People to do look at one a little oddly when one has a roof ladder on an airport trolley. 

Some pics from the happy snappy. It worked okay.

My next yacht in the moonlight

Boats in harbour

Yep, that's the Keys alright