Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Alan, leaves Oz for Seoul Korea

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

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G’day Mate

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Alan and Cirque land in Aussie


Dralion Australian tour dates:

Sydney – Opens July 16, 2008
Canberra – Opens October 23, 2008
Brisbane – Opens November 27, 2008
Perth – Opens January 28, 2009
Melbourne – Opens April 9, 2009

Sailing Antigua

Thursday, March 13th, 2008


Sailing at Club Colonna, Antigua – consolidating on American Sailing Association classes 101, 103 and taking the theory part of 104 (passed!).


Soggy Bottoms

Friday, February 29th, 2008

The trips ashore and back to the boat during our recent BVI sojourn brought the most fun, the largest laughs, the wettest clothing – all as we dinghy-ed about the place. No trip went by without someone getting wet, and even the warm Caribbean waters at 80 degrees feels cold when you’re not expecting it, and resulted in shrieks and shouts as waves broke over the front or sides of our yellow Caribe . The windy days brought the most action and even careful control of the outboard failed to avoid some of the wave actions. Of course having eight in a dinghy made for six (we think) was a cause of much of the inflow. Add to this the trips we made at night, as we went ashore for dinner, dressed somewhat more formally than in the day, only to return in the dark to search out our boat having downed several Pain Killers, Dark & Stormy’s, or the equivalent didn’t exactly help keep the waves out of the Caribe. With the boat lights and a flashlight in-hand we giggled as we sought out Hakuna Matata amongst the moored boats, fending off what seemed like tsunami-like waves from our already wet bottoms.

And yet more entertainment was provided by our entry into and egress from the Caribe dinghy. In short, in the seven days we tried it we never really got it right. This despite several experiments involving lines (ropes), front-loading, side-loading, wrist-grabbing, in calm and in rough seas. All this resulting in much fun amongst we eight and to those that had the luck to be able to watch our antics from the safety of their neighbouring boats or restaurant seats.

Ashore, you could often tell those that had, like us, dinghy-ed ashore. Identified by their soggy bottoms and wet shoes, carrying plastic bags of valuables we all shared the camaraderie of the of the dinghy ride. Proud we were, of our damp patches.

But, and for the record, it has to be said that this years performance was an improvement over last year, when the same crew member took two (or maybe three) dunkings from the dinghy, much to the amusement of the drier crew members.

Still, a lot of fun! Well worth the soggy bottoms.

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Sailing BVI 2008

Sunday, February 24th, 2008


Annual excursion, sailing in the British Virgin Islands underway, with friends Keith (skipper) and Ann (skipper-ess), Peter and Ro, Pat and Diane.

The now traditional first-night dinner of Island Roti’s, washed down with equally traditional but substantially more potent Pain-Killers (made of rum, fruit juice, rum, fruit juice, rum etc) was a great start to the eight day trip for us all.

We’d made ourselves at home on the good ship Hakuna Makata (Swahili; No Worries), a Beneteau Oceanis 523, and slipped our berth at Nanny Cay the following afternoon, and motored to The Bight at Norman Island for our first overnight mooring of the trip.

After cooking aboard we spent a windy night and woke to a tropical rain shower, not an unusal combination for this area.

Still blowing the next morning we opted nonetheless to raise the sails for a challenging sail down Drakes Channel to Spanish Town at Virgin Gorda. The sailing was fabulous, with a heeling boat and variable wings at around 20 knots. We passed the Queen Mary enroute, an elegant and understated ship, unlike other cruise ships that reminded us of klingon vessels.

Spanish Town was a stop on the way to our most favourite place and one of the best places on earth – Bitter End, at Virgin Gorda. Unable to get a slip at Bitter End for the first night we moored offshore and dinghy-ed ashore for dinner. Eight of us in the inflatable was a squeeze and the hilarious antics of getting in/out and staying dry as best you can was the highlight on the night.

A three night stay at wonderful Bitter end was enjoyed by all, relaxing, dinghy-ing about and – just fun.

Sailing to Jost Van Dyke was planned but winds required us to a more sheltered mooring at the beautiful Cane Garden Bay at Tortola, with dinner ashore at Quitos. The next morning we dashed back across to Small JVD, to visit the Bubbling Pool – which wasn’t, due to low tide. Duh! Oh well, off to the Caves at Norman Island for some snorkeling.

We were back in Nanny Cay that afternoon, reluctantly ready for the flights home the next morning – another memorable trip!

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Lynne at the helm, and our Crew of Eight


Bitter End, our boat in the slip, blue cover

A Moment in the Sun – Key Biscayne

Thursday, February 7th, 2008


Departing Miami International 8-Right – courtesy of USAir – after a couple of days in paradise, amongst company friends and colleagues. Nice trip, good to get some sun – if briefly.

Brooklyn Bridge is Falling Down?

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008


Strange effect from a speeding cab, at 7am, looking like Brooklyn Bridge has the wobbles. Cold but clear day in NYC.


English Food – a bad ‘wrap’?

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007


For a country with just 6% of the population owning passports the US has a surprisingly well developed negative opinion of English food. We’re here in Southport England, our previous home-town before moving to the US, enjoying the wonderful comfort and unique company of family and friends, but also catching-up on the fine foods and the best of beers we’ve missed. No tortilla or flour wraps here, the wholesome and flavourful foods served in pubs now equals that of many English restaurants and is simply a treat for us. Meats, pies, with correctly cooked vegetable and tasty potatoes are the usual fare, and come at very affordable prices. Matched with unsurpassed beers including Old Peculier [sic] and Old Speckled Hen served pulled by hand and at cellar temperatures – not chilled -make the whole experience such a pleasure for us.

Fish and chips at The Swan is a must-do for us, and I made two visits on this brief trip. Melt-in-the-mouth cod, mushy pea’s and chips – all freshly cooked and served piping hot accompanied by buttered white bread and a generous pot of tea…..just wonderful.

I suppose it’s what your used to, the foods of your childhood that breeds the biases that results in our lingering taste for the familiar, badly missed when we can’t get them. And that leads to us being more critical of the ‘local’ foods available to us, and that become substitutes. There isn’t much American food that I dislike. But it’s all still a substitute, until our next visit home.

So Just Who Are they Talking With?

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

NY Cab

Cab rides in New York City are a combination of high adventures and nightmares but are a required pastime to get about the city with luggage, briefcases that are heavier that most toolboxes or when you just can’t face the subway anymore. The 13,000-some cabs themselves are, for the most part, the same – Medallion taxis, Ford Crown Victoria’s, painted yellow etc. But the drivers are each very different and make – or break – a reasonable trip with their attitude and temperament, be it up or down. I’ve experienced both, and everything in-between, but overall positive.

No matter what the nationality, the time of day or night, road and traffic conditions, most NY cab drivers are on the cell (mobile) phone continuously. Wireless ear-pieces, flashing blue, connect them throughout the entire trip…. to who? Who are they talking with? There’s no ‘office’ dispatching them to addresses about the city. That’s unnecessary here when there are always more clients than taxi’s and hailing cabs street-side is the norm. So who are they talking with, and about what? And who’s paying? It’s as intriguing (and fun) as is trying to guess the ethnicity and/or language in use, the range is astounding and represents the fascinating diversity of the city itself.

The next time I get a ‘nice’ driver I may pluck up the courage to ask. I’ll make sure I’m about to leave the cab and am in a crowded area. You never know. And I may not like the answer!

Thanksgiving Dinner – with relatives!

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

It took the transfer of cous’ Graham F and family from Germany to Greenville South Carolina for us to enjoy the American tradition of visiting and eating with family over Thanksgiving. We flew down in the Cirrus in just 3 hrs (a 12-hour drive was avoided!). An IFR flight but very smooth and uneventful, and were met at the airport by Graham, Ricarda and Oliver. The next two days passed too quickly, enjoying strolls in warm temperatures, the children looked over the aircraft, but mostly just relaxing in good company. The excellent food prepared by Barbara included the traditional Turkey but also delicious German Stollen Bread and other European delicacies.

We reminisced over family matters past and present, catching-up on more recent happenings, here, in the UK and in Germany. We discussed the intricacies of languages and marveled at the children’s ability to thrive amongst it all. Oliver in particular, with just three months in the US and at just 6 years old, had learned very good English and was keen to exercise it with Lynne and I. Very impressive.

The return flight, with the aid of a tail-wind and speed-over-the-ground of 222 mph at 11,000 feet, was just 2.2 hrs. It was a challenging cross-wind landing at the home airport New Garden and took two attempts, but was safety done. Nice to be met at the airport by Neil, who’d flown home for a weekend with his chums

A great break for us, challenging and enjoyable flying, and wonderful to see Graham and the family, and to fulfill another American tradition – Thanksgiving Dinner on the road!

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Fall Colours

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Nice flight today in the Cirrus, to Latrobe Pennsylvania. The airport is know as Arnold Palmer Regional airport, and is the home of the great man – Arnie. He’s a pilot, flies his own Citation and I’ve seen him at the airport on a previous visit. Interesting flight out, with lots of cloud cover but the gizmos in the airplane telling us all was well at Latrobe, 7 miles vis, calm winds, runway 21 in-use (lookout for the displaced threshold)…… which is just what we found. We dropped over the mountain range to a rapid descent into the airport in the valley below.

Fall Scene from 3000 ft
The scenery on route (between the clouds) was just wonderful, with Fall Colours or reds and golds just everywhere. Some snow on the Appalachian Peaks too, amongst the pines. The plane ran just fine, a 59 minute flight.

A Buffet Lunch was on offer at the Latrobe Airport Restaurant, which we consumed while the plane was being refueled. Jim flew us back, with improved weather en route. A nice way to spend Sunday.
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To Hong Kong and Japan, and a Visit with Alan

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

A return business trip to Asia, but this time with Lynne joining me enabling us to enjoy some vacation time. We have a weekend off in Hong Kong, visiting Stanley and Landau Island. Stanley is just 40 minutes by cab or bus from the city of Hong Kong, traveling by winding roads over The Peak to the other side of the island. The contrast is startling, leaving the gleaming metal towers of the crowded city skyline, and enjoying beaches and markets of Stanley. The ocean-front is under development and is looking a little like Baltimore harbour! But the restaurants and stores are entertaining and friendly, with British influence evident in the food, street names and the driving-on-the-left. Wonderful clear weather (unusual for HK at this time of year) helped make for a memorable visit.
Taking the train then spectacular cable car to the worlds largest Buddha, at Lantau Island occupied us on Sunday, sweltering in the heat and humidity of an otherwise gorgeous day. A trip on the famous Star Ferry across the HK harbour to Kowloon gives you an excellent view of the city skyline as well as the myriad of boats, junks and commercial traffic that criss-crosses the waters, turning them rough and choppy.
Business done in Hong Kong we’re off to Japan, a five hour flight away.
Landing at Narita, Tokyo’s international airport, we still have two hours until we reach the Imperial Hotel, adjacent to the Emperors Palace. I’m off to the office but Alan, who has been in Japan with Cirque for 5 months now, joins Lynne in Tokyo – a city he has come to know and love. They do the vacation thing, until we three travel 2hrs north by bullet train, to Sendai. Cirque is at Sendai, performing 63 shows. We spend a fabulous two days with Alan and his ‘family’, enjoying the show – but mostly enjoying being with Alan. He and the cast/crew are kind and welcoming, pleased that we’re visiting. For us, to be amongst these top-class performers is a real treat.
All too soon it’s over, we must return to Tokyo, and home. A successful business trip, a few days vacation fitted-in and we got see the old ‘un.

Oodles of memories, some caught in photographs

Sun ‘n Fun 2007

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Flew the Cirrus N470CD IFR to Florida to enjoy one of two major aviation events this year – Sun ‘n Fun, at Lakeland Florida, along with my partner Jim, and buddy Captain Ron H. Very enjoyable 6 hour flight, fine weather, and a bladder and fuel stop in Lumberton North Carolina. We also took advantage of a truck ride to the local foodery for a quick breakfast. Then off south again, out over the Atlantic for a while before coming ashore for the Florida portion of the trip.

We put down in Plant City, not too far from the Sun ‘n Fun show site, but far enough to avoid the mess of aircraft trying to land at the show site before the noon show time start! We rented a car and drove into the show. Three days of sun and fun, aviation, aircraft, pilots, aerobatics followed, with each day ending up the same – at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville in the show grounds, enjoying a newly-found beverage (beer) – LandShark – tasty, watching the sun go down. Nice.

I purposefully left all my cameras at home for this trip. It felt great and un-pressured.

We headed back north on Saturday, with good weather depicted for the full 6 hour trip. Jim was at the helm as we put down in Curtis L Brown Jr Field Airport Elizabethtown North Carolina. In the pattern we were asked if we wanted “…a hot-dog or hamburger, or both” for lunch. After three hours flying we opted for ‘both’. The Elizabethtown airport team provides free lunch to visiting aviators during the Sun ‘n Fun week. Great food, nice people, cheap(er) fuel…..we’ll be back!

This was my longest cross-county trip in the Cirrus. It performed flawlessly, and was very comfortable (we took turns napping!). We ‘filed’ IFR despite good conditions and ATC services were very helpful (as usual) and we got the altitudes and routing we requested, without exception.

Jim and I spent Sunday washing the Cirrus removing Florida dust, bugs and trip flotsam from the aircraft.


Great trip, good event, good flying experience, great company!

On ‘us Own

Saturday, February 17th, 2007
Neil hit the road big time this week, as he moves to LAS VEGAS!
Visiting Vegas in January with Big Bruv Alan for a few days R&R they met up with their friends, one of whom commenced to recruiting Neil to his company’s workforce, based in Vegas. He’ll be selling Mortgages in the US’s fastest-growing city, and we’re all confident he’ll do well at it.
So, he packed all that he needed into his Audi A4 and headed west Monday morning, the three of us in tears as he did so. We support him 100% of course but are sad to see him go. He’s sooooo close with Lynne and has become a good flying-buddy of mine. I’ll miss our political discussions and taunting of Bush and the boys. Hopefully skype-ing will fill the void somewhat, and I’ll have to learn to write more complete emails. As I write he’s approaching Tulsa Oklahoma, having already covered some 1,270 miles, he’s just short of the half-way mark. Snow blizzards slowed him somewhat but he tells me he tucked-in behind a line of snow plow’s and has now safely cleared the worst of the snow, reward enough for investing in the all-wheel drive Audi.
Here’s Neils route. He hopes to be there Thursday or Friday, and starts his training (in Atlanta!) next week.
Neil has a beautiful apartment waiting for him, pool and gym in the complex and adjacent to the mountains out there.
Now we’re on ‘us own. Oh well.

Bitter End – and back

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

When our friend and skipper Keith sold his Sailing School last year our almost-annual sailing vacations may have been in jeopardy, and much missed. But when Keith called and and asked if we were interested in chartering a new boat, a Beneteau Oceanis 523, and returning to the Caibbean for a week of sailing we jumped at the chance. We were soon headed to St Thomas for the ferry to Tortola, British Virgin Islands. We picked-up the boat from Nanny Cay, the home of Keith’s sailing school and,as this was our fourth visit to Torto, a place we were very familiar with.

Dinner for our first evening was at the popular Peg-Leg Landing pub and restaurant. The following morning we were off, and our party of eight friends slept aboard the 52ft boat for the week as we sailed between the islands that make us this unique part of the world, taking-in wonderful restaurants, the best snorkeling as we went and enjoying just-perfect weather.

The sailing itself was fabulous. We enjoyed good winds and took advantage of this new boat and its features, which included GPS and navigation system. It was roomy and comfortable, well-equipped all-round.
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Highlight for Lynne and I was our return to Bitter End, Virgin Gorda. This sailing resort is at the far-end of the island chain, a 6 hour sail from Tortola and has been a favourite of ours for several years. A beautiful resort, with a mountain hike, swimming pool, Hobie-Cats for hire….we have a memorable 2-day stay.

Our itinerary for week included overnight moorings in White Bay in Jost Van Dyke, Cane Garden Bay in Tortola, The Bight at Norman Island, and Bitter End at Virgin Gorda.

Dolphins joined us on the sail to Virgin Gorda, playing in the boat’s bow wave and entertaining us for several minutes.

A very memorable vacation, and putting socks and long trousers on at the airport was very tough!

Many more photographs here