I've just returned from two fabulous weeks off. It's great to be back, but it was also lovely to get away and spend some quality time with my hubby. Now I'm refreshed and ready to tackle the remainder of the British winter! Is everyone well? What have I missed?
I'll try not to bore you with too many holiday tales but just wanted to share the first leg of our trip which was something a little different. It took two full days and five flights in smaller and smaller planes to get there, but we finally landed on a grass airstrip (pictured left) on the remote Ibo Island, off the coast of northern Mozambique in south east Africa.
Mozambique was said to be the eighth poorest country in the world in 2013, and Ibo has an extraordinary and brutal history (it was a Portuguese colony for many years, repeatedly came under attack by other forces and was involved in the slave trade) and although peace has now been restored it is still completely underdeveloped and unspoilt.
There are no restaurants or shops as we know them, and very few tourists. We stayed in a lodge which was one of very few buildings on the island with running water and electricity, and the latter was fairly unreliable. We had no TV or internet and power cuts every single day – challenging for a woman who normally can't go a day without blow-drying her hair!
Food wise, there was no menu or choice, you simply ate what was available, but luckily it was always delicious fresh fish or other seafood, caught that day by the island's fishermen. We ate very well!
We were taken on a fascinating walking tour of the main village, even popping into the very basic local hospital where several people were being treated for malaria. The one doctor and a few nurses do an amazing job with very few facilities. There is also a witch doctor in the village – we were bitten half to death by unusually tiny, silent and savage mosquitoes which our usually fail-proof insect repellent was powerless against, so I was half-tempted to ask him for a mossie-repelling spell, but sadly we didn't bump into him!
The village was an eerie sight, with crumbling forts and 17th century mansions left to decay when the Portuguese left, but now taken over by locals. (pictured above left).
The owners of our lodge put a lot of money back into the community, and have so far used some of the income they get from visitors to build a school and set up various training programmes for local youngsters, which was great to see.
You're probably thinking, what an odd place for a holiday! But we like to go to places that are different, and there were definitely some amazing holiday joys to be had too. There was no beach on the island, so one morning we got up at 5am, got in a boat and headed out to a sandbank which is only accessible when the tides are right, stopping on the way to leap into the warm sea and do some snorkelling.
Once on the sandbank, to the amazement of us all (by now we had met three lovely people from Botswana, who came with us) our crew rigged up a shelter to protect us from the 40 degree heat, lit a fire and cooked us a perfect bacon and eggs breakfast. It was like being on our own desert island (pictured above left) and was a very special experience.
The next morning though, was even more special – again we rose at 5am to go out snorkelling and this time, to our absolute joy, were joined by a pod of around 25 wild dolphins, who swam and dived and played all around us. When we eventually left, they swam after the boat for several minutes, leaping out of the water as if they didn't want us to leave. It was truly incredible, and a memory I will always cherish.
After five days we moved on from Ibo Island and spent the rest of our holiday in a more conventional way on a breathtakingly beautiful nearby island with every mod con…it was so nice to have electricity again! But I am so glad we visited Ibo. It's a place I will always remember, and a privilege to see such an unspoilt part of the world before it too inevitably changes.
Just one final picture of a rather unusual "airport transfer" from the final island we visited (pictured above left). The only way to get home was to get a boat to the nearest island with an airstrip. But because it was low tide, that meant getting the boat as close as possible, and then WALKING through the sea for a good ten minutes to get to dry land, the boat crew helping to carry our luggage. Certainly an experience. Oh and yes, that is an Annalee + Hope dress I'm wearing!
Back to work now. Oh, and I promised another little giveaway competition in February, so look out for that at the end of the month.
Before I go, a quick clip from last night's show with my old GMTV pal Andrea McLean who of course has a gorgeous Diamonique jewellery range with us at QVC. Poor Andrea got stuck in horrendous traffic and despite her very best efforts didn't make it to the show until about 17 minutes before the end. Here's her entrance….I was so glad to finally see her!
Have a wonderful week and keep in touch; I always love to hear from you and I try to reply to everyone. You can leave a comment on this blog (see below) or contact me on Twitter (@jackiekabler).
Love Jackie x