We are a small, happy family of four. My husband, a baby, a dog and me. My husband works on a yacht. A large, luxury megayacht which tends to be based in some fairly fabulous places. The thing is, where the boat goes, we go! When she was was just eight weeks old our daughter, Coco, boarded her first trans-Atlantic flight and since then we haven't stopped. This is a blog of our rather unusual yet adventurous life. No two days are the same.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Best Bits of 2010!

Seeing as we are all a little under the weather today (well actually Coco is pretty much better apart from a lingering cough - but she has kindly shared her lurgi with both Angus and me) and we are at serious risk of becoming 'snowed-in' if the piles of tissues decided to avalanche, I need to cheer myself up a bit. It is the end of 2010 and time to reflect. I am already formulating my list of resolutions which I will share with you at a later date but before that I would like you to join me on a jaunt down memory lane for a quick game of 'Best Bits of 2010'!

The New Year started perfectly shared with old friends and new at a party hosted by my dear friend who is quite literally the hostess with the mostess. This would be my first 'best bit' but really, although it deserves a mention, I think it really belongs in 2009. Despite loving January's snow filled fun I was happy to fly to Antigua at the end of the month after a long, nine weeks away from Angus.

My first 'best bit' was the 2010 Superbowl. Although the match was in Miami, the hoards of people spilled over to fill the streets of Fort Lauderdale and what a crowd it was! The New Orleans Saints were playing and so the general theme of the event seemed to be Mardi Gras - the colour, the people, the atmosphere - it was all amazing and although I don't know anything about American Football it was fabulous to witness the phenomenon that is Superbowl!

All our visitors were a huge highlight of 2010. When you are away from home, having friends and family come and share your life abroad with you makes a big difference. First of all there was Marcus who had to squeeze into our little studio apartment in Miami. It did feel like we were students camping out - with a baby! Then Mums and Peter came for a couple of weeks relaxation in Antigua. We had an amazing time but my 'best bit' was being able to share my first Mothers Day as a Mummy with my Mummy. Then Jennifer, my Mother-in-Law, came to enjoy the sunshine and boy, did we natter! Our next visitors were my Dad and Christine who managed to squeeze in a week over the famous Antigua Classics Regatta and it was lovely to have them (although they nearly didn't make it home due to the cloud of ash covering the UK after the eruption of Eyjafjallaj√∂kull).

During a trip home in May, we spent time with family and friends, all of which was as brilliant as always but the highlight for me was a picnic at Wardour Castle with mother-in-law and sisters-in-law and a family weekend at the end of May where our little crawler fell madly in love with her eldest cousins who were wonderfully adoring and attentive.

We had a fabulous summer in New England and it is definitely one of my new favourite places, I absolutely loved it. The scenery, our little house, our new friends, the beaches, our visitors, my new body, the Jack Johnson concert, hurricane, boat rides, Boston, Newport, Maine... it was all one big best bit really but there was a weekend that stands out as being the very, very best bit and that was our weekend in Maine for Coco's 1st Birthday. Such a happy, memorable time was had by all. 

Another summer highlight was Coco and my two week vacation back to the UK to see one of my closest friends getting married. The whole week was terrific starting with the hen party and ending with the most magnificent wedding.

Autumn in the UK was just perfect. We had our lovely cottage, Coco's Christening, time with friends, Angus's birthday, the Eden Project Half Marathon, noodle nights, and loads of time with family and friends - an overall best bit!

Our year is drawing to an end in Florida. We have had a superb, if not a little chilly, time here over the past few months. Coco's swimming is improving tremendously, we have managed to have lots and lots of family time which is a rare treat, we have made yet more lovely friends and found some beautiful places. Coco continues to bring us so much joy and is a 'best bit' everyday with new words and an ever developing sense of humour. Her singing voice leaves a lot to be desired sounding at the moment as if it is a call to prayer, but she is young so all hope is not lost! She eats like a horse (although she doesn't yet use a spoon - I'm hoping that will come fairly soon!) and climbs with such energy and bravery for such a little person. She has all of her teeth and such a lot of gorgeous, blond hair. She has changed so much in the last year and we are so excited to see all of the changes that 2011 will bring. 

One of the over all highlights this year was the day we heard that we had got our house. Next year we move into our own home, we will see Antigua again, we will continue to travel around the world but will come back to our own little house, with our own bed and our own things. 2011 holds such promise; Angus will hopefully get his Masters ticket, Coco will turn two, three of our closest friends are having their first babies and who knows what else? It is just so exciting! So many more best bits to look forward to!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What a great Christmas!

Ah, I can't believe it is all over so quickly! Where has Christmas gone? Angus is back at work, we are into the old routine and I am even contemplating taking the tree down as it just seems out of place now that all of the festivities are over. There isn't the fill-in of festivities between Christmas and New Year that we have at home. Here in the US, once Christmas Day is over, things quickly return to normal.

I'm not going to lie to you, I was feeling a little sad about Christmas. We love our families and adore it when we all spend time together. When we are all with each other you can guarantee massive amounts of laughter, stupidity and fun. To miss out on all the hilarity seemed so upsetting but I have to say, the idea of missing out was much worse than the reality. Don't get me wrong everyone at home, we would have loved to have been with you, but actually we had a lovely Christmas in Florida too. The biggest disappointment was the fact we missed the first white Christmas in my lifetime. All those prayers asking for nothing but snow for Christmas and then the one year we are away there is bucket loads of the stuff. Next year I am going to insist on Christmas in Lapland or somewhere equally as cold where I can count on sledging and snowmen.

When Coco's temperature soared on Christmas Eve (39.5!!) we thought that Christmas was going to be a washout or even involve a trip to A & E, however, the miracle that is Calpol and the fact that we have the bravest baby in the world meant that a wonderful time was still enjoyed by all. After present wrapping and stocking stuffing, Angus and I curled up to watch the original Miracle on 34th Street with a bottle of Baileys and a delectable feast of tasty nibbles before hitting the sack, full and happy. This was  our first Christmas together as a family. Last year Angus had been away working so we were determined this was going to be a special one.

I think I was awake before Coco, brimming with excitement and as soon as there was the slightest murmur from the little-ins room I was in there like a shot. All three of our stockings were opened with absolute joy, and Coco was very obviously over the moon at the realisation that she had some new toys. With travelling around all the time, she is a little light on toys and was in desperate need of some new entertainment.

It was fresh and sunny so we decided to hit the beach for a bracing walk, coffee and croissants. Having mainly previously experienced rural Christmases I loved the fact that we were sharing our Christmas morning with all of these unknown people. The beach front was quieter than normal but still had the early morning buzz of joggers, holiday makers, last nights revellers, roller-bladers and dog walkers. Every one had a smile on their face and there were constant calls of "Merry Christmas" between both friends and strangers.

Home for presents and Skyping - I have said it before and I'll say it again - Skype is amazing! How can we be 4000 miles away and Coco was able to open her first present in front of an audience at home? It still blows my mind.

Nobody should be alone at Christmas and if you have the power to avoid this happening then you should. The thing with boats is that there always has to be somebody on board so that person was inevitably going to spend Christmas alone unless, of course, you take Christmas to them - which we did! A full Christmas dinner (although we opted for beef instead of turkey) on the boat so that everyone could join in.

What a fabulously brilliant day - an excellent first family Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Our Neighbourhood

Check it out - it is a whole different reality...

The play park is pretty normal but lovely and just a couple of minutes walk from our home. How lucky are we?! The funniest thing is the fact that everyone comes here in golf carts! Nobody walks in Fort Lauderdale, you either jog or drive or, in our neighbourhood you drive around in a golf cart like it is some kind of holiday resort! It is very funny.

This is one of the less splendid houses - yes really.

A view of the canal.

A view from the bridge, everyone appears to have a private jetty!

And some of those jetty's have some pretty big private day cruisers on them!

They go to town on the decorations on this side of the Atlantic!

I think the Christmas decorations look so funny alongside the palm trees.

If I was to choose any house around here - this is my favourite.

Just in case you were wondering, as Coco and I walked around taking photos, I was wearing a t-shirt covered in hummus, I haven't worn make-up in at least four days and Coco had yogurt around her mouth from lunchtime because she won't let me wipe her face at the moment without screaming the house down! So we may be living amongst some of the most well groomed houses and people in Florida but we still have a lot to learn!

I hope this bit of sunshine helps to defrost some of you guys back in the UK?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This Saturday I am grateful for....

Painkillers - last night we hit the town and did we ever hit the town! However, we are paying for it today, I just can't do it anymore. I am officially a lightweight. One glass of wine is fine, two and I'm a bit giggly and 3 and I'm sloshed. I should stick at 3 on a big night out and intersperse those with a couple of soft drinks not add a cocktail and a limoncello to the mix, that is plain stupid! Hence my being grateful for painkillers today - and there has been some serious pain that needed killing.

Having a daughter who is a sleep monster! - Today of all days Coco has decided that she needs to catch-up after a busy week. She has also been getting over a cough and had two teeth pop through so an extra nap was definitely well deserved. Both Angus and I are eternally grateful to her for sleeping for nearly two hours this morning and a further hour and a bit this afternoon! Her timing couldn't be better seeing as Angus and I are far from being on top form.

Rain - you may notice a theme emerging here, but it has poured with rain all day today and I mean constant, torrential rain so we have turned the Christmas tree lights on, put on the TV and bedded in for the day. Again, perfect timing!

So although I am not grateful for the fact that my partying days are definitely over, and the hangovers hit hard, I am exceedingly grateful that someone is smiling down on me and not punishing me too much. I have said it before and unfortunately I will probably say it in the future but I am never drinking again!

To see what others around the world are grateful for this Saturday pop over to see Maxabella. There are always some truly beautiful posts to enjoy over there.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hitting the town!

You will be very relieved to know that this week I am not posting a blog filled with doom and gloom - I am feeling much more chipper!

I am back on form and have managed to shake off the loneliness that was tainting my every decision and get back into the positive frame of mind that I am used to. We are living in America for goodness sake! I spent the whole of my childhood talking about my desire to travel and live overseas and here we are, doing it! Get a grip girl! Well, I have - I think.

I love the neighbourhood we have moved to. I have to tell you we are punching way above our weight in this area. It is the serious money part of town and we have been lucky enough to find an affordable rental here. The leafy streets are lined with mansions and houses straight out of 'Desperate Housewives', the sidewalks are clean, the sun seems to always shine (although it has been a bit chilly this week), there are always beautiful people who don't sweat when they jog effortlessly past you and Ferrari's and Aston Martins driving along the roads. The streets are entwined with Fort Lauderdale's canal network which gives idyllic snapshot views as you peer between the fences of back gardens leading down to the waters edge with swimming pools and putting greens (seriously, there are putting greens in people's back gardens!). We have a play park within a few minutes walk which is the cleanest tidiest park you have ever seen, full of children and not a parent in sight - all nannies. I am not exaggerating - we maybe living in someone's pool house (and a very nice pool house it is too) but the vicinity is very very posh! I will post photos over the weekend and you will see what I mean.

As well as getting to know our new area, we have also been getting into the Christmas spirit. We have a tree which is small but beautiful, an advent calendar (thank you Auntie Ilm) and this afternoon's activity is to make some Christmas biscuits. The original plan was to have a completely edible tree decorated purely with candy and cookies, however, the only downside of our new abode is that there is a bit of an ant problem so I'm pretty sure my original tree idea wouldn't have helped with that! So, the cookies are still going to be made, but will remain in a tightly sealed box until consumption.

Right, must get on. I have baking to do before painting my nails - yes, that's right. Our first night out in what seems like months! We've found a babysitter and we are off out to paint the town red, or gold, or silver or whatever you paint a town at Christmas time!

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Friday, It's Daddy Time

I can not tell you how unbelievably relieved I am that it is Friday. It has been the longest 12 days of my life (definitely maybe). I love being a parent and you all know that I love the life we lead but now and again both the parenting and the way we live just gets too much. Before I embark on this self-pitying rant, which I am afraid it may well turn into, I just need to point out that I do know how lucky I am, I appreciate what I have every single day, but sometimes, just occasionally, those cons about our way of life, that are always there niggling away in the background, are amplified and become all I can think about for a while.

When I say cons, it is just one con really and that is loneliness. How ever hard you try, being on the move means that building a network of friends in every place we go to is bloody difficult. I keep really busy. I join groups, I walk, I go to playgrounds, I try really hard to talk to people when we are out and about, but actually making friends in the short amount of time we are in each place is really hard. One of the reasons the last 12 days have been even harder is that Angus worked last weekend so there hasn't been a break, it has just been Coco and I. Lack of friends and family around us equals no time-out, not even half and hour. We also had to move house in the middle of it all which was quite an effort and we were without internet for a few days. A small inconvenience you may think but when the cyber world brings my friends and family into my living room, it is heart wrenching to be without them all for a while.

However, Coco and I have filled our time with Christmas Card painting, lots of cooking (cooking is my comfort blanket and we currently have a freezer full of muffins!), book reading, tower building, music making, present shopping, play park climbing and Spot watching but we are both looking forward to mixing it up this weekend and having some Daddy time.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Girls in White Dresses...

This weeks Gallery theme is 'white' - I am assuming that it might have something to do with the weather in the UK at the moment?! However, although it is a little chilly for Floridian standards over here, there isn't a snowflake in sight so I have had a dig around my photo library and found this cracker from earlier in the year. So I am sharing it with you in appreciation of my all time favourite film, even though there isn't a blue satin sash to top it off.

I have just had a look in my reader and found 590 unread items (I have been very busy lately) so I am off to have a serious catch up and I will post more later.

To see more wonderful 'white' inspired photos pop over to Sticky Fingers and take a look.