Therapy arrived in Santa Barbara.

Those who know me know I love my girlfriends. And my Therapy group are such a wonderful group of friends.

We formed years ago when our children were little. The girls of the group have shown such support to each other over the years that we feel it’s like going to therapy when we meet.

So today I brought a little bit of therapy to Jordan. It came in the form of ‘wise words of advice ‘ for the bride.

We assembled at a long table and enjoyed sparkling Rose while Jordan read her messages of advice – all the way from Brisbane.

Thank you to my funny, creative friends and especially to Patsy for her ‘Sweet Love Story’ which I’ll reproduce here for your enjoyment.

Now if that doesn’t bring a smile to your face – then read it again!

Morning walk in Santa Barbara

It’s Anzac Day in Santa Barbara and as usual Steve led the ceremony.

Then it was a walk through the streets before the sun came out.

It was quiet and the architecture was interesting.

There is an enormous Moreton Bay fig tree brought as a seedling by a sailor in 1876. Read the story below.

We found an amazing house in a back street – it helps that John Donati was born here and knows Santa Barbara so well.

Back to the hotel where the lobby had become a meeting point for our guests arriving. This morning the Brannocks and nephew George arrived tired but ready to go to lunch.

Therapy lunch had its own post but after lunch we wandered the picturesque streets if Santa Barbara.

Come along!

Live turtles in the fountain!

This plaque to Orella is Jordan’s great, great, great, great grandmother.

We finished the walk with a visit to a beauty salon where Antonio gave us eye lifting treatments. It was an hilarious half hour and worth the sales pitch he made. Here I am up close!

You be the judge. Have the bags under the eyes decreased! No before photo though.

Santa Barbara : Wedding Central

Our visit to LA was a wonderful prelude to what is to come. Our son’s wedding in Santa Barbara.

We managed to coordinate a pick up with our friends the Nalders from LAX and decided to drive along the coastal road 101 not the busier road 405. It’s more interesting to see the beaches and the wooden houses along the edge of the road. Millions of $$$$ because they perch on the sand. Or hover in the hills.

The drive was good but somehow took longer than we thought it would. I was excited as we haven’t seen Rob & Jordan for a year.

Santa Barbara is a mission style Art Deco City. It’s lovely. Beautiful buildings , lots of trees and a good feel.

The markets were on straight outside our hotel so we took a wander and waited for Jordan and Rob to appear.

The skies were blue and the architecture was interesting.

We visited the church for a rehearsal but with no bridesmaids or groomsmen it was a fairly quick rehearsal. The church Our Lady of Sorrows is important in the Donati family. Ann Donati , Jordan’s grandmother was married there 63 years ago and her great, great, great, great grandmother has a stained glass window above the altar with her Family name on it. Oralia. It’s Spanish.

The Church where the wedding will take place.

Jordan and her father having a little practice.

We followed this with a small family dinner. Jordan, Rob, Lisa, John and Steve and I.

Others arrive tomorrow. Let’s the celebration begin.

Fun night at home

If you have an inventor as a friend you may have experienced a night like ours.

However, it’s unlikely as Dan Garr or Dannnnnn as he known to his swim trek friends is one big, beautiful, infectious creative being. With his beautiful wife Isabelle or Izzy as he calls her they are a great team and make all guests feel welcome. They have a big house and big hearts to go with it.

Last night he cooked on his amazing fondue pot/ bbq and it was so much fun.

This is the ginormous pot he invented and built. Check out the food in little trays around the outside, the little oven pans on the plates. They look like pizza slices. You assemble your meat with a sauce and a few other things and pop it in the oven! Easy. Tasty.

Then there are the prawns lobster and tempura batter to pop into the boiling oil. Delicious.

But that was last night and today was a ‘Day with a Difference ‘

We hovered in bed till the house was quite and Dan & Izzy gone off to work and only Max 16 was at home as school was off for him. They have ‘student free days’ here just like home.

Then we got up and met the Maria the Mexican house keeper. She was lovely and offered to do our laundry.

We had a plan so headed off on highway 405 south to Seal Beach where another swim friend, my ‘wing woman’ Betty was waiting with her husband Craig. We were so excited to see her that we forgot photos!

We sat over a yummy seafood lunch with our super friendly waitress hovering to help. I had a fish taco. Delicious.

After a few hours talking we said our goodbyes until we meet up again with Betty and our other Galapagos swim trek friends for a NY reunion in 3 weeks time.

We decided to drive further south along highway 1 past the beach areas of Long Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington and Laguna Beaches. Miles of coastline. Some pretty places and lots of Spanish sounding place names, being so close to Mexico. And believe it or not the Trump wall isn’t up yet!

We even saw a little red corvette with a blond driver zipping along. I find myself breaking into well known songs about the places and things we see.

We ended up in SAN Clemente another beachside town. Very pretty with the beach on one side of the town and a huge outlet centre on the other side. Natural we stopped in for a look. Steve did a little shopping at Calvin Kevin and I managed to find very comfortable shoes at Cole Haan.

Back onto the 405 north we zipped along the ride share lane going past 3 other lanes choking with cars.

We arrived home to Dan and Izzy’s house around 6.30 …… to find…..

Dan, the chef, in his amazing kitchen cooking crepes for dinner. He loves to cook and has such a great set up. Huge ovens, a grill and hot plate – everything!

The crepes were divine. Both savoury and sweet with fruits. The Napa Valley wine also hit the spot and helped us sit and plan our next swimming adventure together.

Dan was one of the ‘famous five’ swimmers from the Gibraltar Straits and Corsica to Sardinia swims, the Croatia swim and the Hong Kong harbour swim last Oct. So lots of shared memories.

Feeling a little tired we fell into bed dreaming of the wedding adventures to come.

We’re looking forward to seeing Rob & Jordan – but in Sunshine- no snow! It’s been a year since we saw them.

La La in LA

We arrived in LA at 6am and we’re impressed with the speed through immigration and customs. Much better than when I was here about 8 years ago!

We got our VW SVU and headed to a MacDonalds to get free wifi to load a map onto our iPad. It’s a great substitute for expensive hire guidance from Avis. We also didn’t want to arrive st our friends before 7am!

We descended on them at 8am and spent time catching up and having breakfast before heading out to son Luke’s baseball game.

Our friend Dan and Izzy Garr live in Westchester about 10 mins from the airport but not under the flight path!

They have a large comfortable house they share with their two sons Max 16 and Luke 10.

We headed back towards the airport and experienced baseball! It took me back to sitting on the sidelines at cricket.

We rather liked the ‘code of conduct’ for Parents and Volunteers.

The action started and so did the snacking. It’s not baseball without a hot dog! For me it was popcorn.

Here is STEVE enjoying his hotdog with Dan and Issy’s Dad Max.

I liked this sign as well!

Izzy’s parents arrived and after about an hour and a bit her mum Giselle decided she and I were way too hot and we headed off to a large indoor market for a cool drink and lunch.

Outside in the car park this sign caught my eye.

Welcome to California where everything can be delivered to your door!

We’re now resting up before Dan and Izzy’s friends descend for a fondue with a difference.

Dan our friend from several swimming holidays, is a bit of an inventor. He has designed a large rotating fondue / bbq style thing that sits in the middle of a large round table and you ‘do it yourself’. Can’t wait!

Up, Up and Way!

Airports! We love & hate them.

The anticipation of travel makes them exciting. The thought of a very long journey makes us dread them.

But just like the movie Love Actually which shows the most heart warming scenes in an airport, I love them. Especially when upgraded to Business class! I ❤️the welcome champagne even at 10am.

It’s a great people watching place – a little micro world. A friend once said to me : ‘when I get old my children can park me in an airport or a shopping centre with lunch money and I’d be happy all day.’

I love seeing what people wear for their long flights. Glamorous vs comfort. These days comfort wins. Jeans, leggings, trackies, shorts.

Though I did see one outfit that warrants description. A shortish, wide, dark haired lady had a colourful, bosom exposing outfit with cris cross straps over her shoulders and somehow down to an exposed midriff before attaching to the matching skirt. Finished with high platform shoes it was an eye turning outfit. Or was it eye watering. What was she thinking. I hope it wasn’t a 13 hr flight!

But who am I to judge. I too opted for ‘smart casual ‘ : soft jeans / jeggings a comfy pull on style. A navy light cotton cardigan from Uniglo bought last week for $14! It’s so soft and comfortable.

Now I’m sitting with my watch adjusted to LA time – 7pm , with a glass of Chardonnay, watching Murder on the Orient Express.

A great start to our Wedding Holiday. I must admit I have to stop myself from telling everyone I’m going to my lovely son’s wedding in Santa Barbara. It’s very exciting.

So read along and share the excitement.

The Countdown is On.

Who out there enjoys packing for a holiday? I usually do but feel quite rushed / confused / perplexed this time! Why?

We’re not swim trekking like our usual holidays have been lately. On swims treks the packing is easy. It’s usually summer and relaxed. This time it’s a wedding in Santa Barbara, California! Then 3 different locations. New Orleans, Cuba and New York!

I’m trying to stick to my own packing rules ( check out an earlier blog). Pack in 3’s. 3 bottoms, 3 tops, 3 dresses, 3 scarves, 3 shoes. Then add the ‘wedding gear’.

I’ll let you know how I go! It’s going in the suitcase this afternoon. It’s a new bag and is a larger carry on! So I’m limited on the space! Wish me luck.

I’ve also had to reload this website and don’t want you to miss my blogs. So please send a message in the comments box so I know you’ve seen this post.

Did I mention it’s my son’s wedding! So I am to be a MOG. Mother of the Groom.

An Art Deco Walk

Breakfast was in our lovely apartment opposite the port. No, not the sailing boats and pretty scenes type of port. A working port! The boys are fascinated by the trucks bringing in the logs destined for China?

Then a quick drive up the hill behind us to take in the views. Beautiful. Including the view of the Sky Princess. Yes, a cruise ship is in town.

We booked a 10 am Art Deco Walk. It started with a film about the 1931 earthquake. A real eye opener. Such destruction.

We walked a few blocks of the city in stunning weather. We can’t believe how wonderful the weather is. We were hoping for cooler weather but not so!

The buildings in the Main Street reflect the Art Deco style built after the earthquake. Such lovely pastel colours.

In the following photos see if you can identify the features of Art Deco style.

The sun motive. The fountain. The chevron. The eye brows. The curves. The tall windows. All important features in the styles of Art Deco.

The guide said if we ever get to Santa Barbara we will see similar styles. I could hardly contain myself and NOT tell her my son was getting married there in April!

After the walk we made our way out to Mission Estate Winery. It was built in 1851and is beautifully restored. What a delightful lunch.

Over lunch we planned more adventures with our friends. Is it Oman? Or the Isles of Scilly ? Wherever it is, with these friends it will be fun.

Tomorrow a long drive back to Auckland and the airport. Home tomorrow night.

Vintage Hawkes Bay New Zealand.

The drive from Rotorua to Napier is interrupted by a compulsory stop in Lake Taupo. This huge beautiful lake has a lovely but touristy town centre with lots of chain style restaurants along the waterfront. We didn’t explore much as we wanted to get to Napier early afternoon.

We had a stop at the Huka Falls. Beautiful.

Napier is a mix of wharves and port and industrial and then the most lovely town centre by the sea.

It suffered a terrible earthquake in 1933 which devastated the city. Despite lack of money from insurance companies, the local people with the help and foresight of several business men, rebuilt the whole city – during the depression, and it was done in the most amazing Art Deco style. Power lines were even put underground to allow the street to show off the building design. It’s done in the distinct Art Deco styles. Classical revival, Stripped style, Spanish Mission and Prairie style. It also incorporates Maori Deco style motifs. To read more follow the links.

We arrived in Napier and it was in full flapper swing. The Art Deco long weekend was on. It was the last day and the Great Gatsby picnic had attracted a huge number of people. It was like walking into a movie set. Everyone dressed in the Art Deco , flapper Gatsby style. There were tents all through the park along the foreshore. As we walked along taking photos we passed magnificent cars – Bentley’s, Ford’s “Tin Lizzie”, Rolls, sedans and convertibles. Money on wheels. Some over 100years old. A large number of cars had been brought by their owners from England for the festival. They were in immaculate condition and the owners dressed to the nines.

We walked along the promenade and admired the high teas going on in the tents. We listened to the jazz bands then the navy band, the swing singer and the barber shop quartet. It was so much fun.

By 6 pm we were ready for a small wine and sat at the Art Deco style Masonic Hotel – and wished we were staying there. No wonder it was hard to book accomodation here. We hadn’t realised until recently it was their Art Deco Festival. It’s definitely worth visiting during this time. There are multiple parties, balls and functions to attend, vintage cars rides and everyone – young and old dress up.

The city was alive with colour, action and very friendly people.

And so out to dinner after a long walk along the waterfront. The sunset said it all …………. Magnificent.