We arrive in Ternate to the sound of the Imam calling the faithful to prayer. It is the height of Ramadan and we are in the North Maluku archipelago where we are to board the Dewi Nusantara for the fourth time. We speed out past a huge green mosque where our three-masted home for the next few days is anchored. She really is a splendid vessel, 5 metres wide and 60m long. The staterooms are luxurious with huge king size beds and a spacious en-suite with piping hot water – just what’s needed after an hour-long dive.
The next stage of our journey takes us to the South Island. We leave Wellington by ferry, dumping the car, and three and half hours later are in Picton where we collect another. Like everything so far in New Zealand it’s all gone like clockwork, on time, efficiently and with a smile.
This is always a difficult time of year for me. Firstly, 7 December is our daughter Louise’s birthday. She would have been 27 last week, but instead she is forever a glorious 21 – young and beautiful. We celebrated her life with some close friends at the Bench last week and later in the Steele’s where we held her wake.
My November visit to the United World Schools we have built in NE Cambodia inspired me to do something tangible to make a difference to the children’s impoverished lives in these remote villages, where our schools are a beacon of hope for their future.
We have a charming leaving ceremony at the Mantra Retreat: after being smeared with vermilion ash on our foreheads, a fragrant flame is wafted around and some coconuts smashed. We now understand why the geese and ducks have been waddling around expectantly all morning as they dive for the succulent flesh with cackles of delight. Continue reading →
My two boys are away heli-skiing in Canada, something the poor old hip won’t allow me to do at the moment, so what better plan than to have a girls’ jaunt round Tamil Nadu with my India-loving friend Hilary? As she lives in Abu Dhabi it’s only a short hop for the both of us. Continue reading →
Luang lives up to its reputation, though we are overwhelmed by the number of tourists, ranging from dreadlocked backpackers to chic French groups, via the hordes of Koreans, Japanese and Chinese, that descend en masse upon this sleepy town. Continue reading →