I can’t quite believe it’s been a week since we got back from our world trip, and my brain still doesn’t know what time zone I’m in! What a treat to land in Blighty and find it was hotter here than it had been in most of the countries we’d visited! I managed to dry four full lines of washing in the sunshine.
I have to thank my uber efficient copywriter Lauren for making it possible for me to post my previous blog while I was in Hawaii, and thanks to you too for the lovely comments about the photographs. It was great to keep in touch while being so far away from home, and interesting to find out how many of you had already visited most of the places we were lucky enough to see. I’ve calculated that we travelled roughly 25,000 miles, although technically we only visited four countries, as Hawaii, San Francisco and Minnesota are all part of the USA! But what an incredible time we had, and saw so many amazing things that it’s a good job I took as many photos as I did, because I’d have trouble remembering them otherwise.
Of course our main reason for the trip was to visit my brother Peter and his wife Sarah who live in Sydney, and to see their daughter Clare marry her fiancé Cale, and I was so glad that we did. As you’ll have seen from the photographs in the previous blog it was a truly memorable occasion, and wonderful to be a part of it all. We were lucky enough to have 10 days with the family, and crammed in a huge amount of other things besides, including a couple of days at various beaches – well it would have been rude not to! Clontarf is one of my brother’s favourites, but Bilgola was also beautiful, and although the weather was a little grey at Palm Beach (known as Summer Bay, where they film ‘Home and Away’) the shoreline and the town were really pretty.
The previous time Colin and I had been to Australia, we’d planned to visit The Blue Mountains but the weather wasn’t great, and it was far too cloudy for us to have seen anything. This time around we were afforded blue skies and great views, although it was blowing a hooley so I didn’t stand too close to the edge to take the photos! We took Clare and Cale to lunch in a fabulous restaurant called ‘Chiswick’ in Woolahra, and then treated Peter and Sarah to dinner in one of their favourite spots right by the sea in Mosman. Australia is such a great country and Sydney just a small part of it, but it’s a very beautiful part, and always incredibly difficult to leave…
Neither Colin nor I had been to Hawaii before, but if you fly there from Australia you cross the International Date Line, and so having left Sydney at 4.20pm, we arrived in Hawaii at 5.45am the same day! Bizarre! We didn’t sleep for 36 hours, but were really glad to have been basically given an additional day. I hadn’t realized there were five islands in all – Kauai ‘The Garden Isle’, Maui, Molokai “Big Island” (where the recent volcanic eruption just happened), Lanai and Oahu, which is where we stayed.
Oahu is known as the ‘Heart of Hawaii’ and was the location for the classic TV series ‘Hawaii Five O’ – in fact our apartment was in the very same hotel they used in the series too! Of course Oahu is also where the historic attack took place on the American Naval Base at Pearl Harbour in World War Two. We visited the site and saw the remains of one of the warships, the SS Arizona, which now serves as a resting place for 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and marines who died there on the 7th December 1941. It was a very sobering and thought-provoking experience, but we were both glad we made the trip.
We spent the rest of our time on Oahu on Waikiki beach; we walked to the top of the extinct volcano Diamond Head, and had a cracking night out at a ‘Luau’, where we saw traditional Hawaiian dancing, listened to fabulous live music, and ate the most incredible Kalua pig, which is roasted in the ground. Kalua wasn’t the name of the pig, just the way in which they cook it! Everybody was so friendly, the scenery just breathtaking, and there was a real sense of peace and happiness there. It is a truly wonderful place to visit, and we felt so lucky to have spent time in Oahu and hope maybe some day to get to see the other four islands.
Our next stop was San Francisco
Another long haul flight, but I felt I was getting quite used to spending hours in the air, and although I didn’t sleep very much, I did read a few books and watched some brilliant films! ‘The Shape of Water’, ‘Wonder’, ‘Darkest Hour’, ‘Old Film Stars Never Die in Liverpool’, ‘The Prestige’ and ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri’. They were all really impressive, and I’d treated myself to a pair of Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones a few years back so I could hear everything beautifully. ‘Three Billboards’ is pretty harrowing, so I was a tad concerned to see that Qantas flight described it as a comedy! Trust me, there’s nothing funny about this tale at all…
Both Colin and I had heard a great deal about San Francisco, and had many recommendations – from you too – about what to see. The weather forecast had been pretty gloomy, but the clouds disappeared and we had plenty of sunshine to warm us as we explored this fascinating place. It’s a lot smaller than I expected it to be, but incredibly diverse and so pretty. Particularly the old Victorian houses with their beautiful frontages.
We took a guided bus tour to see most of the sights, but rode the fabulous trams up and down those incredibly steep streets! We did a lot of walking too, and I was so glad I’d brought my Skechers and Vionics with me. Not one single blister. : ) We rode the ferry from Fisherman’s Wharf across the bay to Sausalito and had lunch at a pretty little restaurant on the water, where we looked out on Alcatraz and San Francisco itself. We walked back across the Golden Gate Bridge and that experience was certainly one of the highlights of our trip. Such a huge bridge, an amazing feat of engineering and a brilliant vantage point to look out across the bay and beyond. A must if you ever find yourself in this part of the world.
Our circumnavigation of the globe was almost over and our last stop was Minnesota – well we flew there, but were going to stay with Colin’s sister Anne who lives in Prior Lake, Minneapolis. What a beautiful place! Miles and miles of open countryside, and literally hundreds of lakes.
Anne had texted Colin while we were in Australia to tell us that they’d had 18 inches of snow, which worried us a little, bearing in mind that swimwear, shorts and T shirts were pretty much all we’d packed! Again, we were lucky, and by the time we arrived the snow had melted and the sun shone. Anne took us to Minnehaha Falls which were very dramatic. They have a wonderful statue of Minnehaha – a fictional Native American woman and her lover Hiawatha, both featured in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem ‘The Song of Hiawatha’. From there Anne drove us to The Mall of America – the largest shopping mall in the USA – with floor upon floor of shops and a funfair right in the middle of it! Well you know how I love my shopping!
Anne moved to America almost fifty years ago, and isn’t able to visit England that often. We’ve met her daughter before, but we’d never seen her son, and so it was a real treat when he and the entire family hosted an evening for us all. We only had two days with Anne before our flight home, and we were sorry to leave her and her family. As with all the countries we visited, we felt there was so much more that we would love to have seen, if only we’d had the time.
Going away is always a treat, but coming home is really special. I had felt homesick a couple of times, but luckily I got to see all my children and little Honey just two days after we’d got back, as it was her third birthday! I took loads of photos on that day, but as we’re limited to just 10 here on the blog, I’m going to save those for next time and share my holiday today. I’ll put more on my Facebook page Alison Keenan if you want to have a look : )
Well, I’d better fly now as I have my sister Jenny coming to stay and I need to make a vegetarian chili. I’ve just taken delivery of the new Vitamix, which is to be our TSV on the 26th May. It has all the fab features you’ve seen before, but this model has a higher spec but a lower profile, so it’ll be easier to get it into a cupboard or slide it under the cupboards on your work top. Jill Franks raves about hers, so I’m going to get a few tips from her before I bring it to you that Saturday night.
It was great to be back on Tuesday with Diamonique, and I’ll be back with you next Tuesday at 8pm with more! Lots to look forward to in the shape of a Gtech vacuum cleaner, Antthony Fashion Designs and Bareminerals – all shows I’ll share with you over the coming weeks. Please do keep in touch on Twitter @alikqvc, or Facebook – Alison Keenan, and I often post pictures on Instagram alikeenan1.
Look after yourself, and do keep in touch, as I will with you.
With my love,