Thursday, 20 April 2017

Back to the UK for a sad fare well to Jack's father, an unexpected trip to Uganda and a family wedding.

It was with sad hearts that we retuned hurriedly to the UK as Jack's father who had been unwell, suddenly took a turn for the worst. He passed away a day before Jack's 60th birthday on March 8th. He was a wonderful man and will be greatly missed by many.  He had been a keen sailor right up until the last few years and the enthusiasm and joy he gained from this was naturally passed into Jack! 

Once the funeral was over we all in our own way slowly adjusted to life without this lovely man. The funeral was in fact a celebration of a wonderful life lived to the full and a thank you from all those he'd touched in his long and happy life. 

There was then lots of sorting out as you can imagine and Jack's mother who at 90 was coping admirably well with the loss was never the less in need of support. 
We lived partly between out daughter and son in laws lovely house in Coddenham which they rent out very successfully with Airbnb while they are away in Africa! 

Our other home was with Pam, Jack's ma in Halesworth. It was tricky living out of suitcases for 10 weeks which is never easy but we were welcomed with fabulous hospitality everywhere we went by family and friends. Thanks to you all, you know who you are! I even got 3 afternoons of very good tennis in - thank you, Celia, Karen, Caroline and Lizzie! Jack also had a belated 60th drinks party held  at Tori and Chris's lovely farmhouse - thank you both for the fabulous venue! We caught up with sooooo many friends which was wonderful! 
I was also kept busy at work on clinical shifts while Jack did the noble job of sorting out his father's estate ! Not an easy task when his dear father had carfully hidden various important documents in a secret location ! 
Jack even manage to get some racing in on his friend David Sprake's lovely wooden hulled Loch Long sailing boat. The first evening was sooooo cold Jack was bordering on hypothermia ! The second was a fabulous warm afternoon but as the sun went down so did the temperature !!! What a contrast to the Caribbean sailing! Brrrrrrrrrrrr!

Below is me with my charming driver for my out of hours clinical home visiting shifts. A real come back down to earth with a bump. I was daily humbled by the suffering I saw and compassion from those who cared for them. There seemed many more terminal care visits than I can ever remember ! Especially for the under 50 age group !! Quite sobering ! 

We then had the enviable opportunity to fly to Uganda to spend Easter with our daughter and her delightful family. How lucky are we! An opportunity not to be missed at bargain last minute prices! Our last visit was 4 yrs ago and there were many changes made to the house and grounds not to mention the installation of a fabulous swimming pool! All, I have to say designed and managed by them both at a minimal cost compared to the UK! 
New pool with a view of the Nile - quite outstanding ! 
Massage for Jack on the upstairs outdoor balcony 
Delicious food, mostly from the amazing walled garden which Tori nurtures with love! 
Amelia,Tori and Jack.

Chris ( son in law ) and Jack having some off road bonding experiences together ! 
Life in Uganda ! Luckily the gardener managed to deal with this slippery snake! 
Amelia and Tori's amazing groom and head gardener who didn't know anything about horses when he arrived with them a couple of years ago but has an amazing natural ability with his calm acceptance of all life has to offer. The horses can sense his Karma! He turned up at the gate one day like many do asking for work and his honesty shone through and has proved itself time and again ! The locals are so grateful for any work. The politics involved with fitting in in the African outback can be tricky but Tor and Chris seems to have got a good handle on how to live happily with the locals. Tor has recently opened a local library in their village for the children in memory of a recently deceased dear friend and her Grandmother Nora who spent a good deal of her adult life working and teaching in Africa before her untimely death at an early age sadly as a result of tropical diseases. 
Nora Jenny Bullen - (my mother)
This library opened at the end of May 2017 and will be an amazing resource to those who have very little. So proud ! Well done Tori and Amelia ! 

Typical accomadation for the locals 

A child carrying water from the local water bore hole. The children are often seen carrying the yellow Jerry cans to and from these little huts above. They always smile and wave ! 
Amelia hacking around the lanes on Tiggy with Tori and the obligatory black Labrador ! 
Easter excellent ! Thank you Great Granny for the egg! Amelia on Easter day! 
I found one too says Imogen! 
Magic moments catching up with the grandchildren ! Amelia and Imogen ! What a delight - full of adventure and enthusiasm for life ! Quite addictive ! 
Amelia putting the last piece of jigsaw in ! Tori I have to say did the main bulk of the puzzle with Jack in second place ! 
Peeky boo! Says Imogen! 
Pic of Amelia and Chris - 
What a fabulous family !! Thank you guys for having us! Awesome as always! 
You certainly know how to live and also give back to your local community ! Fabulousness! 

Then to top it all, we had a very happy wedding celebration in the UK for our son Peter and his delightful fiancé Kat (now his wife!) 
Our youngest son Peter waiting for Kat outside Twyford church. Ant our middle son on the right and Pip the awesome best man (his speech was the best I've ever heard!) standing behind. With Jamie standing on the left. 
Mr and Mrs Peter Lillingston I presume !
Walking from the church to the reception along the most picturesque river bank on a beautiful spring day! The only warm day I have to say during the last two weeks! 
The sun shone and happiness and love was in the air! It couldn't have been a happier celebration of the love of two simply delightful people! Sigh------------ how wonderful is life! 
I agree says Imogen! Life is such fun! 

We have now returned to our floating home and unpacked at last after 10 weeks of living out of suitcases. The dogs are delighted to be back on the boat and Ben dog's arthritis which flared up in the UK has now all but gone with the help of the soothing warmth and daily hydrotherapy! 
So it's back to studies for me and boat maintanance for Jack - happy warm contented times after a busy 10 week saying goodbye and celebating new life and love. 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Having fun in the West Indies before we had to make a mad dash back tothe UK for Jack's father.

The next few weeks were spent enjoying life to the full and appreciating the fabulous white empty beaches on the southern tip of Martinique. 
Fizzy and Jack heading ashore in the tender - Lucy and Ben dogs had already swum ahead.
Dog walking and dog swimming !
Ben and Lucy dogs doing their daily swim back to the boat after their walk ! 
Long empty sandy beaches all to ourselves ! 
Sundowners on deserted beaches with friends - Mary, Dick, Gill, Kitty and Fizzy 
Ben dog , Jack and John to add to the above 
Ali, Steve and Fizzy just before Steve also had to make a mad dash back to the UK for his sick father who also sadly passed away.
Captain Gill on her epic journey by dingy into Le Marin !  
Jamming session with Nigel, Carloine and Jack on guitar and Gill on vocals
Another amazing sunset shared with amazing like minded people 
Quite a contrast to the next two month in the UK with the sad loss of Jack's father. We did however have a an exciting family wedding to look forward to and an unexpected visit to Uganda.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Back in the warmth of the Caribbean where we were joined by our lovely niece Jo and her friend Becky

LOur return journey via Paris with the dogs was without incident and Jo our niece and her friend Becky where flying in with another airline to arrive within 30 minutes of our flight ! 
We then returned to the boat (Carpe Diem) via car hire and two journeys back and forth to the airport and Marina with dogs, girls and luggage.
We found the boat in good fettle and soon stocked up ready for our anticipated two weeks of fun with the girls. Unfortunately rain was forcast for the first few days and some high winds, so we set sail for Trois Ilet a well known hurricane hole to batten down the hatches and recover from Christmas and UK! There was lots of swimming, yoga and walks with coconuts to collect to keep Jack amused! His job was using his machete to open them for the girls who were rather partial to a spot of fresh coconut!
 The little town of Trois Ilet was charming, with a small market square and stalls selling local produce and yummy local vegetables in the town hall, which we couldn't resist. New flip flops for Becky and a little tourisIt shopping to amuse. It was reputed that Empress Josephine of Napoleon's "Not tonight Josephine" fame grew up and lived here till she was 16 and was then sent away for an arranged marriage in France. Her first husband was killed in the French Revolution, however she stayed in France and had various lovers and didn't marry Naplolean till she was 33 and he 27! This was an unheard of age difference in those days! It was published however that they were both 28 to avoid scandal! An interesting piece of history for such a small unassuming place! 

When the weather improved we were able to set sail for Ford De France (the capital of Marinique) for some restocking and sight seeing for the girls. 
Captain Jo at the helm! 

Then onto Grande Anse for some dingy sailing, turtle watching and scuba diving. Grande Anse is a little village with a long white sandy beach with magnificent mountains towering behind it. One of our favorite places on Martnique and if the light is right with the long white sandy beach and the lush green hills behind, it is a stunning location. Magnificent Sunsets to end happy days swimming, snorkelling, sailing our little dingy Sea Biscuit and lying in the sun. 
Jo a natural at the helm of our little dingy Sea Buscuit 

Jo and Becky after a scuba diving session 
Off snorking and turtle watching - Jo, Becky and Fizzy. We saw quite a few turtles and lots and lots of lovely fish! 
Sunset shot drinking the obligatory Pina Colada 
Jack, Becky, Fizzy and Jo 

Our next port of call was St Annes, another favorite spot. We set sail tacking past Diamond Rock which was famous in Napoleans time when the British commissioned the rock as a ship H.M.S Diamond Rock and heartily upset Napolean; Martinique after all was the birth place of his beloved Josephine. How dare the British! Anyway it was liberated 18 months later by Admiral Villneuve under instructions from Napolean. It still apparently has the canons on it which had been installed by the British but the island being a steep barren pinnacle is almost impossible to beach let alone climb! 

We spent some lovely days exploring and swimming from the empty secluded local white sandy beaches of St Annes. 
Jo deep in contemplation alone on her own sandy beach.
Becky, Jo and Ben having a much needed dip after a long walk. 

Becky did some amazing salvaging under our boat and found an anchor chain and strop which was probably a casualty of the recent storm which caused so much damage in the bay a few weeks previously. She also found some lovely sea dollars and empty sea urchin shells which Lucy promptly stood on in her usual Labrador exuberance ! 

Becky being given good fishing tips at sunset by our good friend John - note the obligatory glass of Champagne which helps, naturally. 

We hired a car on their last day to explore the inner working of Martinique.
A fun couple of hours was spent exploring a banana plantation and learning everything there was to know about bananas !! Did you know, they used to have pips in them !! 
An English rose in a banana plantation. 
Jo climbing the steps to the ruins of the theatre and Mont Pelée in the distance.

A visit to St Pierre was a must as it has an amazing history. Lying at the foot of Mt Pelée, St Pierre used to be known as the Paris of Martinique. In 1902 however the volcano erupted and reputedly killed 29,933 people who were burnt to death as St Peirre was buried. The only remaining survivors where a cobbler and Cyparis, who was imprisoned for murder in a stone cell and as such was protected and survived. We visited some of the many ruins that still remain including Cyparis's cell and the theatre. 
Jack, Jo and Becky 
Last drinks at St Pierre's beach bar before the girls flight back to the UK via Paris.

What a lovely two weeks together. 
Sunset pic of Jo enjoying yet another perfect sunset!