Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Yes we are Back

Hi everyone

Yes we are back from our trip to the Antipodes and what a fabulous trip it too. When you get over the hill, and have seen and done as many things in your life as I have, you tend to wonder if anything can excite you, fill you with awe, astound you, and give you that teenage WOW factor.
Well the trip did all of that, though maybe I am just that type of person who has never grown up and will always find excitement.
The people we met the places we visited, the sights we saw will always be implanted in our memory and in case we forget I have 1600 photo's to remind us.
the flight back was really uneventful except for my metal knee setting off every security alarm, Why cannot the security staff accept that I have a metal knee without me having to do a partial strip at every security check, why can't they give you a card after the first one, I think they get a perverse pleasure from watching people strip, yet after a while I quite enjoyed being the centre of attraction all I wanted was some music to really entertain the crowd. All went well until we reached Heathrow were the staff are trained in the art of pure ignorance, down right unhelpful, despicable rudeness, and the failure to understand the queens English. As our flight from heathrow to Manchester was internal we were told that we had excess baggage to pay, as I said we had not touched the bags since leaving Australia that was impossible, I was the informed that the first part of the journey was international and the second part was internal with a lower baggage weight allowance. now there is common sense for you change the limit in mid transit just to confuse every one. and how is it that there are more staff speak English at Vanuatu airport than Heathrow ???????????????
Being back on the boat is great the weather could have been better but who cares we are back and even at this time of year the marina is very pretty. We have just about become adjusted to the weather. I never thought I could be so cold returning from 39 degrees to minus 5 is a bit of a shock to the system especial the toilet seat at 3 in the morning, I had to take a heart tablet for the shock lol
We are now in the process of getting ourselves and the boat ready for starting this years boat journey which we hope to start the week after Easter. We are expecting to head down towards Oxford but we shall see what happens So if anyone wants to visit us at the marina you have a couple of months, and if you want to visit on route the now is the time to give us dates??????

I want to say thank you to all those who have emailed regarding the blog, its nice and encouraging to know its being read???????

Sorry no pics at the moment

Speak soon

Big Al

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Wednesday, 3 February 2010


Buying Lunch

Enjoying the View


After a swim

The Market

The Pool


We we arrived in Vanuatu or I should say Efate international Airport at 15.00hrs dead on time. The flight was without incident except for the landing which was I must say rather heavy as the chief steward said over the intercom, "Ladies and Gentlemen please remain in your seats whilst the pilot drags whats left of this plane to the terminal" I say international airport with tongue in cheek as the airport consists of one runway and a single building were the customs, immigration, baggage collection and duty free are all under one roof that is smaller that a football pitch . Now this typifies the island it is charming why do you need acres of glass and concrete to do the same job as a small, compact, friendly building with excellent service and smiling faces This airport could teach all the international ones I have been to a lesson, this theme of friendship mixed with a politeness that the west has long since lost. We found a taxi with no problem as taxi's world wide he hound us, having squeezed our luggage in the boot we then squeezed ourselves in the back We were lucky our cab seem to have everything it should have ie four wheels windows steering wheel which is more than can be said for some of the other vehicles awaiting unsuspecting passengers, Though sitting in the back I was soon to realise one thing it did not have Suspension! the back breaking wrench up my spine over every bump and believe me there were plenty of them was awful but not quite as worrying as the awful noise of the rear wheel scraping on the underside of the wheel arch and the smell of burning rubber. the journey to Magic Island Resort was about 20mins and was full of very interesting. But on arrival all fears were set aside we were promised a Island getaway ad that what we got. the place is so beautiful one cannot describe the clear blue water against a back drop of Palm trees, Banana plants, Paw paw, Limes trees I could go on but I would sound like Alan Titmarsh, Just to say it is Paradise.

We were met by Terry and Charmaine who live next door and run a Kayaking tour business but were looking after the place for the owners who were away in Aus. Terry and Charmaine were great and really made us feel welcome after A few hours I felt like a local, and looked like one. Our Next door neighbour Jim is a saxophonist but promises to keep it low in the early hours of the morning, as we were self catering and didn't think to get food before we left town. Dinner was going to be a problem until Jim our sax player from next door offered to drive us up the road to the restaurant and show us the high life??
The next morning broke with a glorious sun rise over a south Pacific blue sea, so even before Breakfast that didn't have because we needed to go shopping we were all in the sea snorkeling
The sea was a bit rough getting in and out wasn't easy but with true Brit Grit we managed it but not I will admit without a few cuts from the very sharp rocks however that was our own fault as we were warned not to attempt it in such conditions, but ah its our first day. As we had no transport we decided to get a bus I say bus I mean mini bus or rickety old plastic seated eight seater from 1990 Charmaine arranged it for us now there are two ways of doing it you wait by the road side and hail one and take your chance or you can hire one for as long as you need it, as we didn't know how long the shopping would take we decided on the second, our transport duly arrived, the driver was great telling us everything we wanted to know about the island and its people he speaks 4 languages the island language of Bislama, his own dialect, french and English.
He also explained the tribal system and how the whole place is still ran on a chieftain ruling though the British legal system is used for legal issues, I know that sound complicated but it works and the islands are at peace not just with the neighbours but also with themselves.
We first went to the Big shop a supper market NUMBAWAN translated means Number One. as most of the items on the shelf were in Bislama or french we took longer than we should have done over the shopping about two hours but, our driver was there waiting very patiently and it was very interesting, Mary had seen the local Market on the way in and asked the driver to take us there next, now not being frightened of a challenge we all piled into what can only be described as a big party the hustle and bustle of the place the piles of Bananas, Coconuts, Paw paw, grapefruit, Yams, Shell fish of some dubious origin, the shouts of laughter as we tried to discover what some of these beautiful looking fruits and Vegetables were and everyone being so nice.
If I write too much now I will have nothing to say when we get back next week just to say that the rest of the holiday was spent on a beautiful island with beautiful people were you felt safe.
The islanders still celebrate the joy of living, they still regard community life as sacrosanct no one is left on the periphery of society each one has a role to play and even now as the world is catching up with this idyllic island they still retain the values of the society they have had for hundreds if not thousands of years
Now I know that people who we met there will be reading this blog especial Terry, Charmaine and Jim I would like to thank them for making our stay so wonderful and especially Jim for keeping the noise down. and to everyone I say if you are looking for paradise a place so unspoilt you will think you have gone back in time (but still get Internet connection) go to Vanuatu. And know you sceptical buggers I am not on commission. It is a wonderful place
Back in Aus now until Saturday when we start our epic journey home
See you all next week
This is your overseas correspondent signing off for the last time
By for now
Big Al