Saturday, 31 March 2012

Off again......

She wrote. Off first thing in the morning on one of those early morning stupid flights that need you there two hours before, what was I thinking! I'm off to Miami, driving a friend to Naples (Florida not Italy unfortunately), heading back to Miami, flying to Puerto Rico and on to St Kitts for the week. I'm attending a conference there, staying in a nice hotel and talking education for four days. That's not all bad really. There will be photos, if there's time.

I'm flying back to Miami for Easter, meeting Jane and going on a road trip. Quite possibly shopping on the way. We're heading to the Keys, to the True Lies bridge. I've always wanted to go there, lets hope the bridge isn't out. We're hiring a Mustang convertible, well that's Jane's plan. I'm warming to it, I suspect I'll be Louise. Well, we are in the US of A so why not. We may even stay in one or two of those highway motels with the old man in the plaid shirt at reception, no questions asked. Do I really live in a movie world, sometimes I think so!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Spotts on Sunday

Spotts jetty

The fisherman. Some of the dark shadows in the water are turtles.

Apparently a Trumpet fish
Spotts, my new favourite place, a place where beachfront living is available. It was a magical day of things to see. We also saw the bright coloured reek fish, trumpet fish, snapper and nine squid. The squid swum in a line, their big eyes keeping a look out. At some point they saw us, seemed to change colour as they changed direction together. We ventured out over the reef into the deeper water, not so much to see. My local friends told me today that there's a strong current out over the reef, one to beware of.

As we sat on the beach a slow procession of people in their Sunday best came down the from the roadside, one dressed in white. A boy of about 8 years old, his family were with him. We felt a little conspicuous in our bikinis while they were all dressed very well, especially the two small girls about Noah's age. We watched as the service took place, the small boy immersed in the waters to the prayers and celebrations of the congregation. They greeted us as they went up the beach, all smiles and I suppose pleased to have witnessed this important event. Baptisms at the beach are quite common here apparently, this is the first Jane and I have seen.

There was more people watching to be done, three boys with their fishing poles wandered along the beach chatting as boys chat when going off fishing. I suspect they were also looking at the turtles, the dark shadows in the water. I was so pleased I'd taken my camera. I wanted to try out the new filters I had bought in New Zealand. One is a tinted UV filter where I can adjust the light. It worked really well with the glare off the sand and the water shots, a good investment. The waterproof sunscreen was also a good investment. I just need to remember not to miss patches. I'm a little burnt, a small price for the hours in the water and watching the world go by. 


Truly, they need an exclamation mark. Turtles are ancient, soulful creatures. They live to their ancient codes, laying thousands of eggs on beaches they choose instinctively. Spotts Beach is one of those special places and sometimes we mere humans are privileged enough to get up close and personal with these mysterious creatures. Jane and I had an adventure on Sunday, one I almost missed with my slight shortsightedness and fogged up mask.

We were snorkeling off Spotts when Jane saw a large turtle swimming near us. He was really big and had a small shark and another fish swimming with him. It was fantastic seeing him from below and alongside, not too close as this is his sanctuary. We watched a while, then he moved off. I'm not sure he was a he, he did look he like. As we came to the surface, all smiles and "did you see that!" with exclamation marks, we noticed other turtles too.

When we got out we sat and watched them swimming in the shallow water, grazing on the turtle grass and coming up for air now and again. We had company watching, two young boys watching with wonder, counting the different ones they could see. They were old hands at this and enjoyed pointing them out to us. I had packed my long lens, for just such an occasion so I headed down the jetty to get a photo. It took some time until one popped up for air.

It was a long shot. It was a magical day, less than 6 kilometers from my house turtles swim and they will soon nest on the same beach. One of my colleagues noticed my enthusiasm today and said she would pass my contact details on to those who protect the eggs and the hatchlings. Jane and I might get to work with them this nesting season, what a privilege that would be. 

Friday, 23 March 2012

Jet lag

I've not really suffered from jet lag before. I thought I was smart taking Tuesday off, and I was right. The massage helped, having April to stay was great for chasing away that 'on my own' feeling, cooking a healthy dinner was useful, going to work kind of broke the holiday spell.

There was plenty to catch up on. My colleagues liked the Pineapple Lumps, those who saw the ad laughed and got why these are a NZ treat. I know I've included it here before, surely it's worth another watch. Back to the jet lag, about morning tea time yesterday it started and hasn't really gone yet. That swimming through molasses feeling. My body felt heavy, my head slow as I attempted to get it around what I had to do. I'm sure my friends and colleagues did wonder about my slow motion conversations and my vague gazing into the distance at times. I didn't dare put my head on the desk, I suspected my snoring might be held against me.

Yesterday was a late one followed by dinner at Sunset House with the girls, lots of laughs and catching up. Today I came home relatively early, in the Cayman equivalent to rush hour. Luckily the traffic wasn't rushing as my car got stuck in one gear and I had to limp home holding everyone up. Larry can fix it, he's the Cayman's mechanical Bob the Builder. He's always managed to fix it before so here's hoping. I'm writing now to keep myself awake until I can safely go to bed, maybe in 30 minutes or so. I'm boring myself so apologies to my readers.

Tomorrow is another day, here's hoping I'll be feeling better after a good nights sleep. Then I might just be able to catch up on my posts. I owe plenty, plenty of stories to tell of my adventures, home and away. For now enjoy the PL advert. Yes the kiwis slept in......

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Breaking news........Marmite shortage

Oh no, so that's why I came home with 2 small jars and nothing to share with my fellow kiwis here on island. They may forgive me when they see the Pineapple Lumps and Peanut Slabs...... just may, no guarantees. It seems that the Sanitarium Marmite factory got severely damaged in the quake and stocks are running low. The vid in the story above is really funny to New Zealanders, that's an Aussie accent the woman has and Marmite 'fixes' her, making her a rugby watching watching kiwi girl. Very culturally contextual.

So the next story comes along. Trademe is currently running an auction for a 25 kg pail of Marmite. The company, Gilmores Hamilton, are auctioning the pail with the proceeds going to charity. There are some very good folks in New Zealand. The auction is here on Trademe. I hope they fetch a lot of money, check out the comments below the auction details.

PS I'm back, feeling human now and waiting for my team to visit on their way home from work. I hope they like Pineapple Lumps.....

Home again....

After a couple of days of travel, it felt good to arrive to the warm caress of a Caribbean breeze, the buzz of mosquitoes and my own bed. Being upright for so long took it's toll on my well being and the final plane leg was only possible after a large mohito. Well, that's just justifying the mohito I enjoyed with coconut shrimp and salad a Miami Airport. There are some nice restaurants there and, at Islander Bar and Grill, excellent service. The man serving me must have felt sorry for me, he poured me a large one and smiled that smile people do when you look like you've been flying for days.

It was good to get to Miami. The leg from LA was a blur of tiredness. I felt so sorry for the man who sat next to me and the plane ladies. I was a little incoherent when they asked what I wanted to drink, such a tough question when gibberish is your first language and English is relegated to second. I was also starving and American Airlines doesn't have any real food that this vege eats. Actually there's not much real food at all, hence my Miami meal.

I got a surprise in LA, well just before LA really. I checked my forward boarding passes over breakfast on the plane and noticed the short time on my itinerary was different to the very short time on my boarding pass, about 50 minutes shorter. Oh dear! I knew it would be tight, I was almost at the front of the plane because of this. Luckily for me I got out quickly, right into an immigration queue. A long one. I explained my issue to an officer, she was not interested. Luckily for me there were eight or nine Aussies in front of me, men of about my vintage who also had a short stop between flights. Not as short as mine thankfully.

One told the others to let me in, one or two were not that happy, but I did smile sweetly and they forgave this queue jumping kiwi. There was plenty of banter, I took all I got with the best of grace and didn't fire many Aussie ones back, very restrained of me. The bag finally came, I ran to Terminal 4, up the stairs and had a sweet run through security. They were trying out a new system, the line was smaller so through I rocked. I sprinted through Terminal 4, dodging people, and got to the gate for the final boarding call.

I would most certainly have missed my plane and not got home last night if it wasn't for those generous Aussie blokes. Thanks guys, much appreciated! It was lovely to be home in my own bed, a good nights sleep, stocking up the groceries, a Swedish massage and I feel human again. Not quite ready to go back to work. I did have plans to go in for a bit of catching up today, loose plans that didn't happen. That's tomorrows job. Photos and more stories to come as soon as I really land.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A most excellent day

Noah and I had a great day together today. He's a bunch of fun, busy and entertaining. We played outside digging holes in his new sandpit, made Lego creations, wandered to the park sighting many diggers and big trucks, read books and generally enjoyed the day together. He's pretty much worn me out. We had some lovely conversations about the diggers and of course the first thing he told his mum was that the dust got in his eyes, tell tale! We did get a little close to the orange digger loading the big truck that went beep, beep, beep as it backed in. The gust of wind caught us.

There's such a lot for kids interested in machinery here. We saw three diggers, heaps of trucks and watched a crane lower a wall for the new local supermarket, lots to talk about. Noah went back and into the sandpit loading his truck with his digger, boys love that sort of stuff. I know mine did when they were his age.

It's only two more sleeps and I'm off again. After today, I'm tempted to stay a bit longer. Melbourne is my next stop, friends and family to catch up with there too. While I'm looking forward to that, it won't make it any easier leaving on Thursday. I still have some last minute shopping to do, orders from fellow Cayman kiwis and treats for my colleagues. Tonight I"m feeling a little tired. Blame this young fellow, the coolest kid out there. Thanks for a fantastic day Noah.

An unfamiliar city

Monkey puzzle tree, Sumner Beach

Visiting Christchurch has been interesting. It's not an easy place to find my way around, many of the familiar routes are blocked with rubble, fences, trucks, diggers and cranes. Familiar buildings, landmarks, are gone or reduced. Around most corners are surprises, changes that signal big changes for the city. 

On Sunday we walked through the central city. The mood was sombre with tears from some, emotions running high as people said goodbye to the Christ Church Cathedral. An icon sadly crumbling on shaky ground. The quiet is eerie, disturbing to walk between the fences and see the diggers with their piles of twisted metal and concrete. The silent traffic lights, blinking orange, reminded me of the first scenes I saw. It didn't feel good, emotionally charged for locals and visitors alike. 

Sumner was interesting, the beautiful seaside village a ghost town now. The heart seemed to be gone from the community with homes teetering on the cliff edge, a school closed and churches destroyed. A walk along the beach and a drive up the hill roads showed the extent of the damage. People in the unenviable position of having to live in houses that are severely damaged or leaving their homes to rent somewhere while trying to make ends meet. The mortgage on their condemned homes doesn't go away. 

I don't feel like adding Sunday's images yet. Checking them made me sad and I think that, a little over a year on, there is change and a new hope as some businesses reopen. There are places, often in out of the way places to socialise and dine. Sarah and I managed to catch up at the Smokehouse, a delicious meal with New Zealand wine. Cafes are located in different places, in containers and operating from caravans. The city will survive, here's hoping the quiet earth stays quiet for a very long time. Christchurch has had enough thanks. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


A cool cake
It's Tuesday already, time sure flies when I'm on holiday. Saturday was fun, the young ones birthday party. Heaps of people, adults and kids, enjoying each others company. It was a nice social time and I was surprised when someone said that group were the ones who celebrated Noah's first birthday and christening, minus the two uncles and one aunt in Australia, plus one grandma who had had to Skype in for the big occasion. I remember it well and was delighted to be able to attend this years party.

As I write, I'm sitting watching some of my photos scrolling through on the big television, some great memories of Italy, France, Australia and New Zealand. The photos look fantastic on the big screen, surprising as many were taken on my old camera. It's a little distracting really. Today I went out to Oxford to see my mother and she wants a couple of pics of the great grands for her wall, as easy ask. There are so many nice ones to choose from.

This evening we enjoyed the long twilight and went for a ride on the mountain bikes out at the Waimakariri River forest tracks. Lots of fun dodging the trees and riding up and along the stop banks. It's a lovely place to ride, easy for this rusty one on Sarah's flash bike. I'm quite fit it seems, just a little slow. Twilight is such a treat, it's not dark here until after 8.30 pm and so there's plenty of time to get out and about. I must say I'm enjoying being on holiday and being in the shaky isles, luckily the earth has settled and is quiet for now. Fingers crossed that continues for a long while.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Happy birthday Noah!

We had a lovely day yesterday celebrating the small boy's birthday, 2 years old and tons of fun. He had the unwrapping of the presents sorted, ripping the paper for the large and small boxes and then wrestling with the packaging. Cars, trucks and garages were the theme, reflecting his interests. The rubbish truck even came to pick up the bins on his birthday, his favourite thing to watch on a Friday first thing. He associated birthdays with cake, he loves the chocolate variety so we had the candle ceremony with all the grandparents and uncle and auntie present.

"Hot," says Noah as he gets close to blow out the candle. Mission accomplished and it's cake all round. Yum.

Noah is cool, he is full of running and I couldn't believe how big he's grown. The Cuban T shirt may be a very tight fit. We went to the park and I got some lovely photos. I need to process these, I just may take more at his birthday party. It should be fun, kids, party food and a rainy, cool Christchurch summer day. Oh well, it is almost autumn here. First I'm off to buy something merino to wear under my summer clothes, I didn't pack so well!