January was a busy month for me.... early in the month I did a quick trip all the way to Orlando FL USA for Surf Expo. Now I don't normally come in January, but since September Surf Expo was cancelled due to Hurricane Dorian, I thought I better come over. Back in August, I had designed a brand new booth, found a builder and got it all organized, and then the show was cancelled, so I wanted to come and see how the booth turned out. I was so happy..... I designed it with a "Caribbean beach shack" in mind.... I think it looked cute.
The journey to Orlando took 30 hours of travel time from my home in Australia and actually it took 36 hours to get home because of flight delays out of Dallas, due to tornados. The day after I got home I had to pack the car with samples and props and drive 2 hours south to have another photo shoot. Here is a photo of us on location.... notice me always covering up for the sun. My daughter and I holding up the diffuser for photographer Alicia, and cute like Piara the model in this shot.... I love her big hair!
Two days after that we packed up the kids to take them on a two week vacation visiting family in New Zealand. If you follow me on social media, you might have caught some snippets from our trip. WOW, the weather was spectacular, and it sure was nice to have a break from the heat and smoke of Australia. Here is a photo of my sarongs hanging out on the front deck overlooking the most incredibly blue bay.
Here is a photo of me on the front deck of this amazing house we all stayed together in. The kids went surfing a lot here and played down on the rocks at low tide, fishing and checking out the rock pools. All that free time & blue skies, perhaps I even look a little relaxed!
This place that we stayed is called Raglan, and it's actually famous as New Zealand's BIG surf break. While we were there the weather was beautiful but not really good for my husband to surf. (just small waves for the kids) Here he is looking out to sea trying to conjure up some miracle big waves.
I even had to give up "my" hammock to my niece Jemma for an impromptu photo shoot. Doesn't she look adorable in our new for 2020 OCEAN TUNIC? We have lots more photos of Jemma coming soon too.
The next place we visited was Whangarei, it is further up north in New Zealand. We had other cousins to visit there, and I also knew some old boat friends from the Caribbean were there somewhere. After we settled into the AirBNB, I looked up where my friends where anchored on their boat, and would you believe it, they were just 2 bays over from the house. "Come on kids, back in the car" I said after a 5 hour drive to get there. Here we are in the dinghy on our way out to the Yacht Camara.
Now these friends have sailed to New Zealand from St.Maarten many years ago, had 2 babies along the way, and done many miles on their little boat in the Pacific islands, before bravely selling their old boat to buy this massive Ocean Maxi (80 foot) that was very badly in need of repair. Christina said that when it rained the deck was like a colander. Here is a photo of their boat after they bought her.
Just look at the size of the people compared to the size of the keel to get an idea of just how enormous she is.
So Pete and Christina spent 3 years working day and night to completely rebuild her. They took of the keel, the rudder, took out the engine, re-did the rigging. Everything. She is an incredible family yacht. They now spend summers in New Zealand (safe from cyclones) and winter in Fiji (safe from New Zealands winter!) If you would like to follow their journey, here is a link to S/Y Camara on FB, or you can find their blog here.
My kids had an awesome time visiting these guys. Here is my fishing-mad little boy fishing off the back of the boat.
Here is a photo of all the kids off on the kayaks and SUP board. I took a funny video of that too, if you wanted to watch that here is the link.... its only 20 seconds long.
So back home now, feeling refreshed and ready to face 2020, after the sadness in our family late last year. Grateful for our New Zealand family for taking such good care of us. Kids are back to school, and I am FREE to concentrate all day long.
You might be interested to know that now the fires in our area are all over, and the extreme HEAT has eased.... it is pouring with rain today and there are even flood warnings for my town. What a crazy country of extremes this is..... here is a photo from my garden this morning.
I have some exciting things for you guys in the pipeline..... I have started a new Facebook group called OUR ISLAND FAMILY, for all of you loyal island friends to join. Here is the link.
I am going LIVE tomorrow with my TOP 10 islands to visit in the Caribbean, so if you are planning an island adventure, or perhaps looking for some new island ideas, be sure to tune in for that. Remember I lived in the Caribbean for 10 years, so I have lots of ideas to share... and I might end that video with a giveaway of something new from the 2020 collection.