Louise's New Years eve party went down very well, though I think her friends thought I was a bit crazy wanting to be outside in the snow & cold to bring in a piece of coal, an old English custom, my dad always did this when we were children "it's for good luck he use to tell us. Louise's friends humoured me (funny English woman), we had fun taking lots of photos in the snow. I hope the coal brings lots of good luck & health to all the people we know.
We spent a few days chilling out (not due to weather) before packing & flying back into England on 4th Jan. Always very sad saying goodbye to Louise -we are comforted by the fact she & Allan will be joining us in France when the cruising season starts.
We enjoyed a very smooth flight back to Manchester. Michael & John were at the airport to welcome us back, we drove the short distance to eldest daughter Teresa home where a warm welcome meal awaited us. We enjoyed a few days in Manchester before Michael drove us to Liverpool airport for our flight back to France.
We enjoyed a very warm welcome in France, our good friend Sheila was waiting in Carcassonne airport when we touched down, such a lovely surprise. We enjoyed catching up with all our friends in the port over the following two weeks, with some great days & evenings out. I managed to cook many meals aboard the Moet for our friends.
Nicole was 40 so we helped her celebrate her birthday in their barn in Douzens - Nicola & Mark run 3 gites in the Aude. This is a wonderful place to stay if you are looking for a French gite with a big welcome. A true French holiday set amongst their vines. I was impressed with their big chill out barn for kids and grown up's ~ take a look at their web site www.barthegites.com
We took some time out for ourselves enjoying a trip to Toulouse - some good holiday shopping, John needed new sandals. We loved strolling in the sunshine especially our lunch, so nice to be back in France. The French have embraced the new ruling of no smoking in bars and restaurants so eating out is more pleasurable.
John helped Earl & Fiona in their home in Malras as they were fitting a new bathroom. John also helped Sheila with some plumbing and advice in her new gite. I enjoyed covering the rest of Sheila's new dinning chairs.
We flew with Ryanair again flying into Liverpool, a few days in Manchester with our family always magic.
Up at 4am to catch a flight from Manchester to London. We had arranged to met up with Linda & Alwyn at Heathrow airport they had driven up from Leeds the day before. We were together then flying onto the Grand Cayman for a very special holiday.
Paul was waiting in Grand Cayman airport to pick us all up. Our journey from leaving France went like clock work and we enjoyed a wonderful smooth journey here. I managed to get this stunning photograph from the plane especially all the cloud formations above the sea. We landed in Nassau for a short stop over before flying over many small more Islands arriving in Cayman safe and sound.
We enjoyed 10 wonderful days in Grand Cayman thanks to Carolyn & Paul, who live in Michigan USA. A surreal relaxing environment with treasured moments galore here. We were able to sit back and enjoy paradise in such good company. Our every need was catered for. Carolyn and Paul put a great deal of time and effort, months of planning, plus lots of helpful e-mails in arranging this holiday for the six of us.
www.coralstoneclub.com apartment nine if you wish to have a look and see more photographs.
John, Alwyn & Paul should of met up last year in Leeds but Paul had to be cancel last minute sadly as Carolyn was taken ill.
The boys met at school aged 5years old & living near each other. Carolyn has produced a DVD for each member of the class who found photos. She has been collecting photographs from everyone and piecing together a story of 55yrs she has worked so hard.
Irene - Linda - Carolyn
Paul - John - Alwyn
We girl's enjoyed getting to know one another, strangers when we met, but soon we were shopping in George town buying tee shirts, we wanted to take the colour of this Island back with us. We enjoyed a girl's night out for an Indian curry the boys a pub dinner.
George town can get busy when the big cruise liners arrive, seven arrived in one day with more than 14,000.00 people aboard. We enjoyed visiting many different places during our stay but our best places were what the tourists did not have time to see during their short stay.
The Island was devastated by Hurricane Ivan causing so much destruction here with many people losing a great deal. The re-building of the Island is a credit to all the people's hard work and determination to rebuild it again for people to enjoy this paradise. Work is on going rebuilding the Island and is progressing well, especially the new canal system, not for canal boats but mooring your dive or fishing boats next to your home.
John & I went house hunting (we all need to dream) we thought this one might be in our price range.
Paul & Carolyn are hoping to have a retirement home built here and plans are awaiting approval, we visited the site and enjoyed sharing their dream of moving here soon.
The seven mile beach with fewer footprints we have ever seen on a beach which is so quiet and Tranquil a place where you virtually stepped out of your door to experience an easier life. The whirlpool spa was a must each day here for the girls as was a swim in the sea.
We experienced bliss no wonder people just stay on here and never want to leave, especially if you dive or fish.
Some of the worlds most spectacular walls, shallows and wrecks are to be found around this Island.
Our views along seven mile beach with drinks on their terrace was a tonic indeed.
We so enjoyed this feeling of being relaxed and so well looked after with so many golden glow evenings, taking in the sunsets from either the pool or balcony, enjoying a drink and sharing our life stories, so much to talk about and learn, get ready and enjoy an evening out.
I just love this photograph of the sun going down. I enjoyed taking photographs of people walking along the beach as the sun went down, the wonderful sun sets ~ the cheers around the pool one night when the sun dropped the split second magic light just happened ~ did it really go Yellow? No Syd & Jenny said, I was too busy with my eye in the camera lens to see if it did happened or not, it was a big debate.
With more than a hundred restaurants to choose from on the Island, Carolyn & Paul choose well & booked some really good places to eat, we especially loved the Seafood which plays an important role in the Island's heritage.
Food to suit every palate and pocket. We all most enjoyed sampling Cayman's culinary arts especially the seafood, indeed a favourite part of our holiday.
We met Ottmar Weber a Chef/Owner who appeared on TV on the Discovery Channel 'Great Chefs of the World'. We voted to come back to The Fisherman's Reef Bar & Grill.
Original map and more information at: www.caymanactivityguide.com
Taxi service Nick from "Deep Blue Divers Cayman", arrives to pick us all up from the apartment.
The resort scuba diving course and our dives which followed during our trip was a very generous gift to John, Alwyn and myself. Sadly Linda suffers from asthma and was not able to dive, but joined in the fun coming in the boat with us and being part of the team.
Sadly Carolyn was unable to dive with us due to a DVT in her leg (last year), strangely enough her clot brought us all here to Grand Cayman. Carolyn could not take the chance on cutting herself on the coral below. We hope one day we get to dive here again with her fit & well enough.
Carolyn & Paul arranged with Deep Blue Divers, three very special dives for us. Stingray city, touring the Island by boat visiting North sound and Rum point and the Oro Verde Wreck dive ~ Paradise Reef, we dived to Max of 51 foot the deepest John & I have ever dived. Carolyn & Paul are experienced divers and have been diving in these waters with Nick for the past 15 years and shared their love of diving with us.
Some of the sea life we enjoyed Jawfish, Stingrays, Banded Coral Shrimps, Conch, Puffers, Groupers, Trumpet Fish, Angels, assorted shoal's, Barracuda, Lobster.
You can watch an Oro Verde wreck dive video at www.scubadivingtube.com
John & I had been scuba diving before enjoying doing our Padi course in Egypt almost 10 years ago. Egypt was nothing like this experience, here it was "Relax under pressure" which was Nick's slogan.
We learnt so much on these dives and relaxed with Nick and Rick, the patience of a saint with John, myself and Alwyn who all experienced problems with one thing or another on different dives. On the last dive we felt we could go on and on with no fear which was a credit to all the team work involved.
Warm clear water all year round with water temperatures ranging from 80°F/26°C in winter to 86°F/30°C in the summer.
Perhaps one of the Cayman Islands' most famous attraction, Stingray City and the nearby shallows known as Sandbar provide the only natural opportunity in the world to swim with more than two dozen 'tame' Atlantic Southern Stingrays which seem to enjoy the company of humans, John & I were tasty food both of us experienced the strong sucking action of their mouths when we were feeding them ~ ouch we both shouted.
The rays found at Stingray City and Sandbar have white underbellies and slate gray, brown, 'khaki' or rarely, black upper surfaces. Like the one sat on my head here.
Males of the Jawfish Stingrays are smaller and more numerous at the site. Adult Females grow as large as six feet across. Relatives of the shark, with soft, cartilaginous skeletons, they also give birth to live young, with three to five, nine-inch long 'pups' born at the same time.
I was a little frightened when this Stingray landed on my head, but all was well. I was more worried about the large Moray eel that passed through John's legs which he had not seen thankfully.
I could write several pages on this holiday and show many more photographs, I do hope you get a taste of the Cayman Islands and a wish to explore it yourself if given the chance - sadly we only have a few more days before we leave.
Sometimes we are overwhelmed by the people we meet on our travel's traveling in itself brings gifts from family, friends and from new people we meet or the unknown ~ letting go of our old life has introduced us into another world.
Alwyn & Linda lived in the next street to us in Leeds both our gardens backed onto one another only meeting here on this Island and only by chance discovering we had been neighbours in the 1980's.