Tuesday 3 May 2016

Back on our island home and unpacking our backpacks...

Hello friends and family! I know - it has been a while since I’ve updated my blog and it’s been two whole months since we arrived back on our beautiful island home in the Caribbean - but after a fabulous but exhausting four months travelling around Asia I really felt the need to unwind and settle down and unpack my backpack.

Trav and I are happy to be back on our Caribbean island home of Utila

Happily, it didn’t take us long to slide back into the laid back Caribbean lifestyle here. Trav is diving and I’m trying to perfect the art of balancing fun, relaxation, and work – yes work - I actually have to do some because my next novel won’t write itself and my travel features all have deadlines!

This is our fourth extended stay on the island of Utila and our time spent here now adds up to a full year - but the time passes so quickly – and I can’t actually believe we are now into May 2016.

During our first week back on the island it was my birthday. I celebrated with drinks on the dock bar at Ecomarine dive centre and was thrilled to catch up with so many dear friends. Later we all went out to dinner to the Foo King Wok Restaurant. It was a fun night and I didn’t mind one bit that I got a year older. My present this year was a bicycle. I haven’t owned a bicycle since I was about 12 years old but it is a fun and fast way to get around the island. I love it – and now have a shopping basket fixed onto the front too!

My fun and delicious birthday dinner at Foo King Wok Restaurant
Birthday drinks at Ecomarine Dive Center bar with my lovely friend Tara
My birthday present - I love it!

The rest of March whizzed by - filled with sun and fun and diving and snorkelling and boat trips and picnics and BBQ’s over on Water Cay – one of the small islands off Utila and a favourite spot for spending time on the beach and catching up with friends.

On the 1st April we were so excited because two of our sons, Ben and Iain, were arriving from Edinburgh UK with their lovely girlfriends, Hayley and Brogan. They were to spend two weeks on the island with us and they were looking forward to lots of sunshine and fun and diving.

Ben and Hayley and Brogan and Iain
We had a great time introducing them to the island and to all our lovely friends. We went on a rum-crawl taking in all the infamous bars on the island like Rehab and Skid Row (and getting the t-shirts) and we had fun horse riding and swiming and paddleboarding and jumping and swinging off the dock into the sea as well as spending quite a few days out on the dive boat with Ecomarine.

Ben and Iain are already qualified dive instructors and the girls wanted to do their Discover Scuba Diving courses. One of those days out on the boat turned out to be very special indeed because we spotted and swam with a whale shark and, not one, but two pods of dolphins. It is such a joy to swim so close to these beautiful and wild creatures. Thanks to David Thatcher for the great photos taken on the day of my first whale shark and dolphin close encounter!

During their stay it was Iain’s 23rd birthday and we celebrated with a day at Coral Beach and with lunch and cocktails and birthday cake at Neptune’s Bar and Grill.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world in South Korea, our middle son, James, who also has a birthday in April, was soon to celebrate his 25th birthday. We sent him our love and wished him a happy birthday from afar. This was his birthday photo - and he looks like he's having a good one!

Over the weekend during the 'kid's' stay we all rented a private island in the Cays – a small island called Little Cay – and although we did spent a considerable time lazing about in the sun, drinking cocktails and eating BBQ food, my husband Trav and son Iain also spent a lot of time in the crystal clear and warm water of the house reef teaching Brogan her Open Water Diver certificate!

Little Cay - one of the tiny private islands off Utila that you can rent and have all to yourselves...

Congratulations to Brogan who is now a qualified Open Water Scuba Diver!
The two weeks with Ben and Hayley and Iain and Brogan went by far too quickly and soon it was time to wave our loved ones off at the airstrip on Utila. I can't even begin to tell you what it meant to Trav and I to have two of our sons with us on the island and we hated to say goodbye. We hope to see them again somewhere in the world maybe later in the year, but they have busy lives and demanding careers, and so if things don't work out it could actually be a long time before we see them again. I try not to dwell on that because I miss our sons so much and I'm so happy to have shared these fun times with them and their lovely ladies.

Then it was time for Trav to get back to diving and for me to get back to work. I’m working on a new novel right now and it’s had a few stops and starts over the past few months, what with with all the travelling and fun and adventures we’ve been having. So it’s time I got down to some serious writing...... but then it was Captain Steve’s birthday...... and we were invited out to a beach BBQ and party. So the fun goes on - and the new novel is getting written - but slowly. You can see my problem here!

Now we are into May and to Trav and I that means two things – it is time for a visa run and it’s also our 33rd wedding anniversary. Both those things together means a trip off the island and a reason to celebrate.

Where to? Well, we have made plans to go over to the USA for a few weeks.

You might remember that this time last year we planned to visit Miami and the Florida Keys from Key Largo down to Key West (which we did by Greyhound Bus). We then decided to go onto New Orleans and extend our trip further by spending almost a month in the Bahamas.

The entire trip was a fabulous a bucket list dream. You can read more about that particular trip by clicking on the highlighted text for my blog post on Florida and on the Bahamas or you can go and read my travel guide to New Orleans and The Florida Keys published online with award winning LLm lifestyle magazine.

We are not sure of our entire travel itinerary this time around - which in my opinion makes a trip more flexible, spontaneous and fun - but we do know that we will have to head first over to the Honduran mainland so that we can take an international flight to Houston Texas. Then, after an overnight in Houston, we will fly onto Las Vegas!

We have not been to Sin City before - so it’s another fabulous bucket list destination – and we are SO excited about that.

So do please come back here and join me soon for an update on the trip!

Love, Janice xx