It’s 2017. The dust is settling, the Christmas decorations are being taken down (hopefully!) and I hope that the new year holds happiness and health for all of our friends.
We booked a flight out of the Bahamas on December 10th so that we would be home in time to celebrate Penny’s 4th birthday on the 11th – should have been easy. But there was a front coming through and low cloud here, so the incoming flight could not land. After countless delays and uncertainty, they finally cancelled the flight that night – luckily we had our boat to go back to; others weren’t so lucky. We finally left at lunch time on the 11th – to get to Atlanta and find that there were no seats on the connecting flight into Baltimore. We went on standby and a couple of planes left without us. Finally we were called up just as the doors were about the close. As she printed the boarding pass, the couple whose seats we were taking rushed up to the gate (she had been “shopping” and lost track of time!) Feeling bad, I grabbed the boarding pass, put my head down and scuttled down the boarding ramp, determined that we would get on that flight! So we made Penny’s birthday, even though it was 8.30pm before we got there!
We had a whirlwind trip home – Christmas time is always so busy and we caught up with friends, spent lots of time with Will and Penny, and worked hard at doing all the things we needed to set ourselves up for being away again for another four months. I wish I could be more casual about paperwork, but I had my nose in the computer for a lot of our visit. That way I can relax now, knowing everything is “under control”.
We went to the school Christmas concert and loved it – each year the kindergarten class are the main characters. So Penny’s group featured as bell ringers, and Will’s class presented Christmas songs with words and actions. All so adorable – St Anne’s is an amazing school.
We loved being at home – the swans arrived in our absence and Garth picked up his share of the feeding. We are so lucky to have the privilege of having these beautiful birds in front of our house every year. We counted about 95 at a time this year – with quite a few cygnets among the group.
Christmas was low key – I made the Beef Wellington which seems to have become our tradition. The day was mild and beautiful – we were able to open the big door and weren’t cold at all!
We have great neighbors – we routinely meet on our front lawns with a glass of wine in hand as the sun goes down – Christmas day was no exception, and mother nature obliged with a humdinger sunset.
And then it was time for the big adventure! Kate, Will and Penny flew back with us on the 29th to escape the cold and see in the new year. Unfortunately our luggage never made the connection in Atlanta and so we lost a precious day waiting for it to be delivered. The kids were not phased too much – we had to find them a summer alternative to their long sleeves and shoes and socks which was an interesting exercise – but they swam happily in the marina pool in their underwear and ate their first conch fritters with relish!
We wanted to spend New Year’s Eve in Hope Town so made our way over as soon as we could on the 31st. We went to the Reef Bar which is on the ocean side of the island with a fabulous beach and the most incredible clear turquoise water.
We had an early lunch – opposite a cemetery which had a very steep hill which was an irresistable invitation to run down with hair flying! There was a gate a little way away, but they found a couple of loose planks in the fence and did what kids do …
There was a junior Junkanoo scheduled for the afternoon – we found a playground to keep them busy while waiting. Will is at that age where he jumps and swings and climbs on everything possible. Penny keeps up, but with an age-appropriate reserve! The Junkanoo was small but full of energy and such fun!
Time to go back to the boat and take a nap to be ready for the celebration. We managed to book the last table at the Harbour’s Edge restaurant for the early sitting. A delicious 5-course meal – our entree choice was Surf and Turf with lobster – yum! They provided headgear – Will immediately adopted a Humphrey Bogart persona – Penny wanted the man’s hat rather than the feathery crown which they gave for the girls! Afterwards we went down to meet up with Mel and Gary and the boys sported the headgear I had bought for the kids while sharing some Franschoek wine!!
New Year’s Day – my birthday! – and it was time to move on. We went over to Nippers on Guana Cay for their traditional Sunday pork roast buffet. The children had seen our photos and were looking forward to swimming in the pool with the pirate on the bottom! The water was freezing apparently and they got in, but clung to Kate – not sure if it was really that cold or whether they were beleiving Garth’s stories about the pirate getting them. But they didn’t let go for a minute.
It became shoulder-to-shoulder crowded at Nippers so we moved down to the beach at Grabbers – more swimming, eating and drinking! Will and Penny donned the wetsuits which Chris and Jean Humpreys had kindly passed on to them and went for their first snorkeling lesson in “real” water. They loved it and we got some real surfer-looking photos!
Every day down here seems to end with a memorable sunset ….
Next day we set off to see the swimming pigs. We had to go around Whale Cut into the ocean. Fortunately the swell was reasonable and the passage unremarkable – except for a float plane which took off right next to us! By the time I got my camera it was already in the air, but was an interesting experience for Will and Penny
Noname Cay where the pigs live was the highlight of the trip! Craig Russel who takes official care of them had arrived with food, and they were eating from the trough. There were a number of 7-week old piglets who were just charming! After a little encouraging, Will and Penny both fed them some of our bread, and by the end were petting and patting with confidence! Craig had brought some coconuts which he opened with a machete – not something that you would ever experience in Annapolis! The kids ate coconut right out of the shell before it was given to the pigs – who cleaned them out! They drink from pipes attached to a huge water tank – Piggyville is alive and thriving.
The tide was high and the water was pristine – more snorkelling for the kids and they saw fish swimming by. Garth found a live conch and they were a little unsure about the animal living inside. I thought it looked a lot like Kate …..
All round it was a gorgeous day, and a perfect end to a great visit. From there we went back to Green Turtle Club – more swimming in the pool and then a delicious final meal together. We loved having them on board – this visit was a highlight for us and we hope we instilled a sense of wonder, adventure and wanderlust in them – that the world is a place full of things to see and do and experience.
This blog has been all about family – from here we set off for Eluthera and the Exumas next week, to places we have not visited before and our own experiences to be enjoyed.