Andrew and Laura

2007 Our Honeymoon

Sun 11th February

We set out from Simon and Clare’s new flat at about 7am having spent yesterday visiting them en route to Gatwick. It was really good to see them both as we hadn’t seen them since just after Christmas. Their new apartment in East Dulwich is really lovely. Had the usual boring drive to the airport, meandered and drank coffee till it was time to board the plane. Boarded and spent an hour waiting for a member of staff before we took off. The flight was pretty good in general as we were in premium economy so plenty of leg room, and champagne to greet us as we boarded. More champagne appeared with an edible lunch which definitely helped towards improving our flight. Andrew bought me the Little Lost Bear from duty free, he is so cute.

We unpacked and settled in at The Mirage and went out to do a bit of exploring, we watched the volcano erupt on the hour, just outside the Mirage, super fun with a great water and fire show.

Afterwards we wandered across the road to The Venetian; it’s a miniature Venice {obviously} strange to look at as we were there last summer. Went to Tao a Japanese restaurant there and had a fantastic meal, sushi, sashimi and wasabi steak to follow. The intrepid explorers were fading fast by 8pm {3am our time} so time for bed…

Mon 12th February

We went over to Denny’s for breakfast, got to have breakfast there at least once, and then walked all the way down the strip.

We went into Wynn’s for a stroll around, this is a stunning hotel with a lovely interior, we hope to come back to explore it more. I loved the lobby area with all the little silk parachutes suspended from the ceiling and weighted so that they float up and down on pendulums. There is a very pretty bar area with a glass waterfall which lights up in the evenings, a great place for a nightcap.

Went to Macy’s for a stroll around and bought three new shirts for Andrew.

Then we walked all the way down to the end of the strip and went into the Stratosphere and up to the top of the tower. The view over all of Las Vegas from here is stupendous, we strolled around the top which is all glass, I did a lot of videoing, including some of crazy people on the ride that swings out above the tower, horrendously high up and whirling like a dervish. Had a coffee in the highest Starbucks in the world, and then wandered up to the Sahara for a look around. We caught the monorail back to Harrah’s and went back to the Mirage for a late lunch and to drop off the shopping.

We later took a cab down to Fremont Street to go to the Marriage Licence Bureau to apply we have decided that we are going for it!

Then having sorted out that so quickly and easily we walked around to see the lights, stopped at a Mexican bar with a cool open fire with 2 large copper arrows in it for a beer. The lights here are great with a roof that changes colour like a fibre optic lamp.

We caught the tour bus back up to the strip and went to Caesar’s Palace for the rest of the evening. This is another stunning hotel, inside are statues, which come to life every so often and glide about looking quite eerie. There are designer shops and fantastic ceilings, skies with fluffy clouds, and eventually a sunset. We played on the slots and were given free drinks, then ate at the Mexican fajita place and drank wonderful golden and silver Margarita’s.

We strolled back to the Mirage in time to watch the volcano eruption before turning in for the night.

Really enjoyed today, Vegas is such fun, and tack on a really grand scale.

Tue 13th February

We went out fairly early this morning and took the tram over to Treasure Island, we strolled around and bought a tee shirt each and a DVD of La Nouba from the Cirque du Soleil shop.

Went down to the fashion show and bought Andrew some Levis and strolled around the shops.

We had lunch at the Caribe restaurant at Treasure Island before heading back to the Mirage to get ready for our limo to pick us up to go to the Grand Canyon.

Fred picked us up in a black stretch limousine and drove us to the Sundance helicopter airfield.

We boarded a red helicopter and took off, then flew over the desert and over Lake Mead, the largest manmade lake in America, apparently it took seven years to fill once completed. Pete our pilot circled round the Hoover Dam so that we got a wonderful view of it.

We flew over mountains and a rainbow appeared all of a sudden, eventually we were over the Grand Canyon and then down into it to land. I can’t really describe it, a wonderful breathtakingly beautiful place, cameras don’t do it justice, although Andrew had a jolly good try and his photos are amazing. The red mountains are reminiscent of Petra, we walked and filmed and looked down into the Colorado River, little birds flitted around and the wind was howling.

We were given champagne and a picnic tea and sat gazing at the mountains whilst we ate. All too soon it was time for the return journey and part way back we flew through a storm. But suddenly the clouds parted up ahead and we had a sunset, all pink and gold through the rain. Pete took us all the way up the strip, it was lit up like a Christmas tree, we could see every hotel so clearly, it was magical. When we came in to land it was cold and had started raining again.

Fred dropped us off at the Luxor, miniature statues of various Ramses and Anubis, the Valley of the Kings and Luxor, the Sphinx is huge and has a face reminiscent of Tutankhamen, and the nose is still in place, unlike the original. A Harley Davidson was mounted as an exhibition too, looking very weird amongst the ancient Egyptian images. We strolled around taking in the hieroglyphics on the ceiling and decided that it was very cleverly done, but the atmosphere there was quite cold, unlike the Mirage or Caesar’s. We put Fionas bet on here as it’s an hotel she liked the look of, doubled the stakes in case she won - and lose the lot!

We used the walk through to the Excalibur, which looks like a scene from Disneyland from the outside; it is totally geared up for children, a place to stay if you go as a family, but not for us.

Then wandered over the bridge to New York, New York, Andrew took a photo of Liberty in her basketball shirt, she’s been dressed up for the basketball convention that is here at the moment, would you believe? This hotel is quite cool, a miniature New York with a huge casino. We went to the Bellagio next, just in time to see the water’s dancing, they are fabulous, but it was raining again, so we got a taxi back to the Mirage and ate at the Californian pizza kitchen, before turning in for the night.

Wed 14th February

It’s our wedding morning!! I was awake at the crack of dawn and phoned room service for coffee only to be told there’s a 2 hour wait. What! So I went down to the Roasted Bean cafe for a take away.

Elvis called us at about 9.30am to arrange our pick up in his 1956 Pink Cadillac.

Doesn’t that sound weird – so strange to pick up the phone and have someone say “Hi this is Elvis, how are you this morning? - I’ll pick you up outside the north gate at 11am”

We got ourselves ready and went down to meet Elvis, he escorted us to the caddy, registration plate 56ELVIS.

He drove us to the Special Memory Wedding Chapel Drive Through, singing Elvis songs all the way - so corny, funny and wonderful.

At the drive through we arranged to have a bouquet of red roses, red carnations and baby pink and white lotus flowers, a DVD and some photos then were ready to begin. The official drive through vows were done in a couple of minutes by the Rev. Sarah Caruso.

Then Elvis sang “Love Me Tender” as the photographer started recording. He started the marriage vows Andrew has promised to Love me Tender and to be my Hunka Hunka Burning Love for the rest of his life. I have promised to Love him Tender.

He then stopped to sing “The Wonder Of You,” while encouraging us to dance in Lover’s Lane.

We did our exchange of rings, which represented Elvis said, our Eternal Circle of Love, then he sang “Viva Las Vegas,” he presented us with a signed photo of himself with the pink Cadillac and a blue Elvis scarf for me.

The photographer took some photos of us including a couple of us with our registrar Sarah.

Then we were driven back to the Mirage, we started to video Elvis singing to us and he invited me to sit in the front of the caddy with him. We drove back singing Elvis songs with people tooting and waving to Elvis as we went. This is the best fun wedding we’ve ever been to, so happy it’s our own, we laughed the whole time, we are so glad we went for this and will treasure the memories, and I’m sure, will laugh every time we hear an Elvis song in the future.

We dropped off our Marriage Certificate etc. in our room and went to Japonais to have a glass of champagne and a cocktail to celebrate! Then went to Cravings restaurant for some lunch.

Later we went out to walk up to Bellagio’s. I wanted to see the water show without the rain, and have discovered that there is an Ansel Adams exhibition on at their galleries, he is Andrew’s favourite photographer so an ideal place to go on our Wedding day. It was this we headed for first - we knew most of the photographs that were displayed, but found a few that we’ve never seen before. It was a really good exhibition with a lot of details of his life and a few letters he has written to his family.

We went down to the casino afterwards and played on the penny slots, I won $20. Then we went through to the conservatory where there was a flower festival on to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Pig. We took some pictures of the flowers and a bit of film of the waters chasing around the flowers, a simple but really effective concept, before leaving to watch the main water show.

Afterwards we crossed the road to Paris and booked a table for the Mon Ami restaurant which overlooked the water show at Bellagio’s. We had a lovely steak dinner there and watched the water show which is on every 15 minutes in the evening whilst we ate. We took a stroll through Paris and up the walkway through to Ballys then back to the Mirage for a nightcap before bed.

It’s been a wonderful day, we’ve had so much fun and I still can’t quite believe that we are married!

Thu 15th February

We went down to Cravings for brunch about 11ish then went to visit the dolphins. The females and males are in separate pools at present. I spent a lot of time filming the boys; Maverick, who is 20 years old and Lightning who is only 4, they are both very playful.

Andrew was taking photos of the girls, Sage, Duchess and Huffenpuff; they swim and play together the whole time. We spent about 3 hours sitting in the sun watching them, then walked down to the secret garden for a while to see the alpaca’s, snow lions, snow tigers and leopards. They were all asleep in the sun.

We went back to change for an early dinner and check to see if our Wedding DVD had arrived yet, no such luck so we ended up making a few phone calls.

We went down to the Revolutions bar {Beatle Mania in Mirage as the show “Love” is being performed here} and had a pre dinner drink.

We decided to have dinner at Fin, an excellent choice as we have just eaten the best Chinese food we have ever tasted. Prawn and scallop lettuce wrap, wonderful dumplings followed by salt and pepper squid tempura and fillet steak in black pepper sauce with broccoli in oyster sauce. The whole meal was absolutely stunning, we were only sorry that we hadn’t tried this place earlier.

We went to the Cirque du Soleil’s “Love” show next which was utterly wonderful. It’s unlike any other Cirque show we have seen, but the best one yet. I felt totally emotionally drained by the end of it, would love to go and watch it again tomorrow.

We went to play for the last time on the penny slots in the casino and have a glass of wine. This was an incredible last night in Vegas, tomorrow morning we are off to New Orleans!

Fri 16th February

After a last breakfast at Cravings, we took some photos of the lovely orchids at Mirage, we’d walked passed them every day and also of the fish tanks in reception. Eventually our Wedding DVD arrived and we were able to get a taxi to the airport, so it’s farewell to Las Vegas, but I will certainly never forget it!

Our flight to Dallas was delayed for over an hour. So a mad dash across Dallas airport ensued as we had 12 minutes to catch our connection, but this was delayed too, so we sat and ate a pizza for lunch. They moved the gate for the replacement plane,which was full to the brim, and was of course near where we’d landed to make the mad dash in the first place.

Our taxi from the airport when we arrived was slow due to the parade as it is Mardi Gras time in New Orleans.

We dropped off our luggage and walked from our hotel down busy Bourbon Street, I collected some Mardi Gras bling of course, this is obligatory.

We had a late dinner at Fin, one of the best restaurants in New Orleans, lobster dumplings and wood smoked scallops with mushroom risotto followed by peppered drum and an excellent bottle of wine. On the way back to the hotel, we collected more bling, it’s been a very long day and it’s time for bed. It is Cold, Cold, Cold in New Orleans.

Sat 17th February

We walked down Canal Street, it was absolutely freezing so we stopped to buy me a purple Mardi Gras sweatshirt. We walked along the water front and bought tickets for the Natchez paddle steamer’s lunchtime cruise. We sat and had a beer watching a lady play the steam organ on the roof of the Natchez, this organ became unbearably loud once we boarded, but thankfully stopped as we paddled down the river.

We really enjoyed our trip down the Mississippi, I have always had a thing about paddle steamers. Our lunch onboard was Southern; red beans, sausage jambalaya, fried chicken and bread pudding. Off the boat we walked back towards our hotel for the evening parade down Canal Street. We collected lots of bling - the main aim apparently - so many crowds all fighting to grab the beads being thrown by folks in the carnival floats. Later we went back down Canal Street to catch a tram along the front, it was dark by then.

We got off the tram at the terminus and set off to explore east side of the French quarter. That side was a lot quieter away from the parades and craziness. We went into a bar for a beer, and then explored the area whilst looking for a good place for food. Watched some men in the street play some fabulous jazz music. We found a nice Cajun restaurant called Pere Antonio where I tried the house cocktail of the same name, Andrew had a beer and we ordered a shared sampler of Jambalaya, Creole shrimp, chicken and sausage gumbo and the local hot bread pudding to finish.

Strolling after dinner we stopped to watch a man with a monkey, the monkey sang a couple of songs to me. Further on were three men playing classical music on different shaped glasses, videoed them for a while as they were excellent, we’d never seen anything like that before.

We stopped on the way back to the hotel, and bought some New Orleans tee shirts, cats for me and skeleton jazz for Andrew and some wine to drink in our hotel suite.

Sun 18th February

We were out and about early that morning and walked down Bourbon Street witnessing the clear up from the night before.

Found breakfast in an hotel - cheese and ham omelette and hunters eggs with coffee. We bought some nick knacks and a bottle of water, and went back to pack as we are off to The Keys now.

The flight was alright, but when we got to the car rental place we had to queue forever. They were out of stock on the car we’d booked when it was eventually our turn, so would we like to upgrade? The upgraded car did not start - so back we went again. The second car worked, so we drove in the dark by then, to Casa Thorn arriving 2½ hours later than we’d planned and exhausted as we’ve been travelling all day and not eaten since breakfast.

We unpacked the car and went straight out to eat dinner at Marker 88 before they closed for the night - a restaurant recommended by Thorn. An excellent steak for me and seared wasabi tuna for Andrew, some wine and of course Key Lime Pie for pudding. It’s definitely time for bed…

Mon 19th February

Casa Thorn really lived up to my expectations; our Moroccan suite is so over the top, stunning and sexy. We had a marble en suite bathroom with an enormous pink jacuzzi and chandeliers and mirrors everywhere.

The bed is a huge Moroccan intricately carved four poster king sized covered with about sixteen bejewelled silk and velvet cushions, and a velvet bedspread.

The walls are painted with scenes from the desert; it is truly straight out of the Arabian Nights!

I spent some time talking with Joanna who works at Casa Thorn whilst having coffee and waiting for my new husband to wake up. She was really excited about our Elvis wedding, and asked to hear all about it. We ate breakfast out on our private patio area beside the pool, once Andrew was up. Then we drove off to explore the area, at Anne’s Beach we parked up and went for a walk, the sea was beautiful all indigo, blue and turquoise, just as I remembered it. We walked by the sea for a while, but I hadn’t slept well at all the last few nights and was suddenly overcome by a bout of wishy-washiness and had to go and sleep.

Andrew was hungry so we stopped at Craig’s Fish Restaurant on the way back, I ate conch chowder and Andrew had the speciality fish sandwich with fries. After a few hours of rest I was feeling much better and we set off again to explore.

We wandered around some shops then stopped at the Lorelei to have drinks, rum punch and beer, and watched the sun setting over the Keys.

We found the Nauti-limo moored up by the dock and took some photos, a nautical pink Cadillac - but not as good as our Elvis one.

It was really cold after the sun went down, we went to eat at Marker 88 again as the food was excellent the night before and it’s close to Casa Thorn so we could both drink some wine - an excellent Burgess. Back at our Moroccan room we finished the bottle of wine and settled down for the night.

Tue 20th February

I had breakfast by the pool again and chatted to Joanna while Andrew slept on for a while, then we thanked Thorn for our lovely welcome and magnificent suite, said our goodbyes and set off for Key West.

We drove along Highway One and stopped off at the Boondocks for lunch. Coconut shrimps, calamari and wasabi tuna washed down with a beer.

We continued on our way down to Andrew’s Inn at Key West and were greeted by the Hemingway cats as soon as we arrived.

We chatted to Jorge and arranged a Sunset Cruise for tomorrow, unpacked and settled in.

Took a wander down to Duvall Street and stopped at Mallory Square for a cocktail, a “Green Thing” for me and a Margarita for Andrew while we watched the sun set over the sea.

We strolled on and bought a couple of postcards. We found the Old Mexican cafe and drank an amazing key lime margarita each, followed by fajitas’ and a bottle Wynn’s Coonawarra wine. We even found room for a slice of frozen key lime pie each - the best we’ve eaten so far.

Strolled back to Andrews Inn looking in all the shops and choosing horrid t shirts for everyone , messing about though, so no one is going to be horrified I hope…

Wed 21st February

It’s Our One Week Anniversary already! I was up early as usual, so I chatted to Tom and met Satchmo the black Labrador who comes in when Tom is working.

Cuddled the cats and chatted to Luke too while Andrew was asleep, we eventually breakfasted about 10.30am.

Went for a stroll down Duvall Street and meandered around the local art galleries. We lunched at Bagatelle, then meandered about for a while, then went back to the Inn for a siesta, it was a beautiful day, very hot, but we are still travel tired.

We got up in time to go on our sunset cruise on the Liberty Clipper, she’s a gorgeous ship and we had a wonderful couple of hours sailing on her. The sunset was amazing and just afterwards we saw a group of four dolphins including two babies. It’s so lovely to see them in their natural habitat and we saw them surface about six times before they disappeared from view.

We docked shortly afterwards and walked up to Duvall Square to eat at Origami an excellent Japanese restaurant where we ate sushi, sashimi, prawn tempura and steak, the whole meal was exquisite.

We sauntered back to Andrews Inn and drank some Earthworks wine from the Barossa Valley, on our patio fussing the cats and chatting about our day before retiring to bed.

Thu 22nd February

Our last full day here already. We had breakfast by the pool and chatted to Luke for a while.

We were moving to Eyebrow House for our last night, so packed up again. Strolled down Duvall Street and we made a final decision on our painting to take home a Pam Hobbs print, she was in the shop while we were there, so signed it on the back for us.

We bought some Key Lime Juice to bring home - as you can’t get it anywhere else, then went to Mango’s for lunch - a bit of a mistake as it was the only really average meal we have had on this holiday.

We sauntered back to Andrews Inn to pick up the new keys. Tom took us round to Eyebrow House, it’s bigger and has a jacuzzi - but was not as nice as Andrew’s Inn. We stripped off and soaked in the jacuzzi with a glass of wine, then after a siesta we decided to stroll back to the Old Mexican Cafe for dinner, our favourite place to eat, plus they do the best key lime margarita’s we’ve ever had. So after these I ate steak and Andrew had superb steak quesadilla - so good I ate half for him. The steak was excellent, but I wished I’d ordered the same as Andrew. We went back to the house for a last glass of wine and bed. We will travel all day again tomorrow.

Fri 23rd February

We set off after coffee at about 8.40am to drive back to Miami. We stopped at the Hideout Cafe by the sea at Key Largo for breakfast overlooking the Keys. I was sad to be leaving here again, I found it all so familiar and welcoming having stayed here before. We didn’t really do much touristy stuff, as we’d done it all the last time in 2000. It is such an easy place to just relax and mooch about in, and the sunsets are fabulous.

We drove to the car drop off, coached to the airport and had the usual hanging around waiting. The plane left only 20 minutes late and the flight was fine. We landed in Puerto Rico where we had to catch a connection, this was delayed by nearly 2 hours and with the time change it was 2am when the taxi dropped us off at Galley Bay. The housekeeper had kindly left us a meal in the room; I was too shattered to look at it, sleep, sleep, sleep…

Sat 24th February

I didn’t wake up till 7am, I went out on to our sun deck and watched the sea, made coffee and waited for Andrew to wake up. We just made breakfast for 10am we were starving, it’s been a long time since breakfast in the Keys.

Later I unpacked, and caught up with the diary whilst listening to the sea. There was a knock at the door and a maid brought us a bottle of champagne to welcome us. We are going to do nothing but relax this last week of our honeymoon. We have walked by the sea, sat at the Teepee beach bar and sipped lovely frozen cocktails and eaten at the Sea Grape restaurant. We are so laid back we may fall over, there is a band playing Calypso music quietly in the background and I even persuaded Andrew to dance with me…

Sun 25th February

We had a relaxing lunch by the sea, having managed to sleep through breakfast. The sea was very rough and the red flag was out to stop people from swimming, but we paddled and got drenched, of course.

We walked along the coast for a while and sat drinking cocktails watching the sun disappear, it sets behind the hills. We watched little birds flitting about and little lizards gazing at us, walked around the gardens and basically done not very much at all.

We ate at the Gauguin restaurant that evening, it was for couples, you sat under your own little thatched roof with pretty gardens surrounding you and your own little path down to the table for romantic dining by the sea. We had a lovely evening, a very nice Merlot accompanied our meal. We strolled back to the bar after dinner for coffee and cocktails and to listen to the steel band playing. We loved being there, it is such a stunningly beautiful place and with such a relaxed pace of life.

Mon 26th February

We breakfasted at the Gauguin restaurant in the morning, then booked a taxi for 11am to go and explore St. Johns, the largest town on the island. St. Johns is pretty much like St. Lucia’s Soufriere area. It had a lot of poor areas mixed with some nice shopping streets, a market and a very pretty harbour area. We bought a new pair of black sandals for me and a bottle of red Wolf Blass to make a change from the Chilean merlot. We lunched at Bananas in St John’s some excellent calamari, blackened mahi mahi fish with salad for me and a pizza for Andrew, we tried the local Wadadli beer, which was really nice too. We wandered around the harbour and looked in the duty free jewellery shops, but found nothing that we liked enough to buy.

Jojo our taxi driver picked us up about 3pm, we drove back to Galley Bay. The speciality fruit on the island is blackened pineapple he told us, but we never saw any.

We relaxed for a while, went for a walk along the beach, the red flag was flying as usual, apparently that area was very calm up until the 1998 hurricane, but the sea became quite wild then and had not been tranquil very often since.

Dinner was at the Sea Grape restaurant, then we had cocktails and watched the sun set. They had amazing cocktails there, and always had a speciality cocktail of the day. Our favourite was the Fantasy, a frozen blend of vodka, coconut rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice and red grenadine - very yummy. Dinner was fine, they do excellent starters, soups, salads and desserts, but sometimes, as that evening, the main courses were not so good. We strolled over to the Teepee bar again after dining to listen to the Rawdon Edwards band playing Calypso music and had a nightcap.

Tue 27th February

I woke up with a jump at about 5.42am, within a few seconds the bed was shaking quite violently, Andrew woke up too, but after less than a minute the shuddering stopped. After breakfast, where no one mentioned the morning’s occurrence, we went to reception to pick up the Rav4 car that we had hired for the day.

We set off with a map to explore the island, this was great fun if you don’t care where you went, we had all day to see the area but as navigator for the day I found it quite disconcerting that the map and the roads don’t seem to have anything in common.

I think Andrew was getting slightly irritated by my “map reading” until he pulled over to read it himself, and couldn’t do any better. We stopped to ask for directions and eventually found Half Moon Bay, apparently one of the five most beautiful beaches in the world, so we had to see it.

We parked up and went for a drink at Harry’s Bar, he had the largest range of British beers that we have ever seen abroad, we settled for a Wadadli, which is very nice and much like the Piton beer in St. Lucia.

We strolled down to the beach to go for a swim, but although the water looked calm we discovered that we’d inadvertently taken up surfing - without the use of a board! Having spend more time underwater than not, I retired to film the area. It really is absolutely stunning, with amazing coral reefs, I am so glad that we found our way here.

Later we drove on in the vague hope that we may find the Devil’s Bridge, a National Park area since the 1950’s it is situated on the extreme eastern point of the island on the road to Long Bay. Apparently the Atlantic breakers culminate here from 3,000 miles away in Africa, producing enormous waves which have carved out a natural limestone arch - called the Devil’s Bridge and created blowholes that the waves crash up and through. I read about warnings of walking across the bridge, as when the surf is high you can be washed over the blowhole and killed on the rocks below. Thankfully we did eventually find it, as it really is a stunning place to be, we spent quite a lot of time there filming, taking photos and just sitting on rocks watching the sea.

We drove around the island, not caring where we ended up now that we’d found the two places that we really wanted to visit, we saw a lot of tropical rainforest areas, banana plantation and incredible beaches. We eventually parked up at English Harbour, where the famous Nelson’s Dockyard is located. According to the books on the island, this area is not to be missed.

It was the only existing Georgian naval dockyard in the world. The museum and the other restored buildings are a memorial to Horatio Nelson. It still worked as a leading yacht service centre and was the headquarters for the annual regatta. It was a lovely area, huge yachts were moored up, and there are beautiful pillars and several of the restored buildings house shops and restaurants.

The restored Copper and Lumber Store is now an hotel. We sat at the Galley Inn, which I’d seen on the website at home and had a Wadadli beer, watching the boats. We strolled around for a while and later dined at the Trappas Bar a sort of Thai/Caribbean tapas restaurant where we shared calamari, coconut shrimp and hummus. I went on to eat blackened mahi mahi {fast becoming my favourite fish} and an angus beef burger for Andrew - this was definitely the best meal we’ve had on Antigua, everything was perfect.

We set off back to Galley Bay in the dark, half wondering if we would see bed before the morning, judging by our failure to follow the “map” earlier, and the fact that there are no road signs whatsoever on the island. We were really lucky as English Harbour is diagonally the opposite end of the island to Galley Bay and we were back within about 35 minutes, due to some lovely people along the way, giving us good directions.

This is something we’ve found all over the island, all Antiguans are very friendly and helpful, they will happily stop to chat and we have not once found anyone begging or hassling us in any way.

We retired to our balcony for some wine before bed; we are up early in the morning to go speed boating around the entire island.

Wed 28th February

Our 2nd Week Wedding Anniversary. We were picked up from the Grand Royal Antiguan Hotel, apparently once owned by the government; it is a huge 1980’s sky scraper type building, quite dated and ugly, so we were glad we were not staying there.

Our Xtreme Circumnav Adventure speed boat collected us; the owner is Eli Fuller who was an Olympic gold medallist Windsurfer at some stage. He does two tours, this fast paced one and the Eco-tour on a catamaran, which are both themed on the history and ecology of the island. According to the Times, the Rough Guide etc. his tours are not to be missed.

This boat is a 45 foot off shore racer and we had decided that it would be more fun. We did a bit of the Miami Vice style racing around the island, JD our captain veered and zig zagged across the sea. It was really exhilarating, I loved it, and Andrew now fancies getting more into speed boats.

Our first stop was Stingray City, a lovely quiet area where you disembark on to a floating raft then descend a ladder into the sea. The stingrays there were gorgeous; they swam up to you and all around you sliding their bodies along your legs, so soft, like silk. When I held out my hands they came over to see if I was going to feed them putting their noses into my hand! We really enjoyed our time here, the rays are used to people visiting and feeding them, I could have happily stayed all week.

We eventually moved on, and sped over to Green Island, a millionaire’s paradise island, where you have to be extremely wealthy and have enough connections to be voted in by a board of governors to be allowed the privilege of holidays there. We however just stayed for lunch, chicken salad with pasta and plantain followed by banana loaf. It was a very pretty island, but had almost no shade, so we needed a constant slathering of sun block. We sat under a tree with our lunch and watched the lizards running about, they came up incredibly close, one even sat on our towel with us. They liked the pasta, it was fun watching them play and chasing each other.

Onward on our journey around the island, we slowed down around Falmouth Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard whilst JD gave us a potted history of the island and we looked at the huge yachts again. We sped round passed a few more bays; Antigua has 365 of them, one for every day of the year. Trevor pointed out a huge sprawling house up on a hill and built to look like an old fortress, this is Eric Clapton’s newest house on the island, he sold the last one, also pointed out later, which I thought was much prettier. He spends a lot of time out there and has had a drink and drugs rehab centre built here too. We stopped next at the lovely Pillars of Hercules which have eroded over time and are a natural phenomenon; you can see its volcanic boulders just below the surface. I took some photos of Andrew swimming here.

On then to our last stop of the day at Rendezvous Bay, another incredibly beautiful beach where we could swim. We didn’t this time, as on all the places we have visited today there is no shade, both of us are sunburned although we have used an entire tube of sun block and sat in the shade onboard the boat. We are glad we stayed onboard as a small herd of cattle ran along the beach to go for a swim. I had read about them, but hadn’t expected to see them. If we’d swum ashore as almost everyone else had we would have no photos of them.

As we zoomed back towards the Grand Antiguan JD pointed out Galley Bay and Giorgio Armani’s house, one we’d walked up to look at on our daily perambulations. We were tired and sore when we reached the hotel again, but had really enjoyed our day, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it.

We gingerly showered, plastered each other in after sun cream and went to drown our pain with alcohol. We enjoyed our cocktails, ate an excellent meal and went straight to bed.

Thu 1st March

We intended lazing the day away today, Andrew has bad earache and both of us are sunburned. I have three no see um bites {local mozzies} which seem to be burnt too, so all in all we are mizzogs today.

We wandered down for breakfast, then back to our room as we are not coping with the heat today. I have been catching up with this diary and Andrew has been reading. I have made him call about seeing a doctor as I think that a long flight with a bad ear infection sounds about the worst thing he can do. A doctor is coming to see him at 7pm.

We went to the Gauguin restaurant for a late lunch at 2.30pm and had a cocktail dark rum, amaretto, coconut cream and milk with nachos for Andrew and grilled red snapper for me. I filmed one of the local little birds eating my honey mustard dressing and one of the cute little lizards that are very common here.

We had our last evening meal at the romantic Gauguin restaurant, but Andrew suddenly felt really ill so we cut short our dinner. After a lie down Andrew insisted he felt better so we went to see Roots a steel band we had been looking forward to seeing, an excellent end to our last evening.

Fri 2nd March

We had a relaxed last breakfast at the Sea Grape then went to pack as virgin were coming to collect our cases and deliver our boarding passes at lunchtime. That sorted we went for lunch, then a walk across the beach and last paddle.

We sat for a while in the library reading and watching a sudden downpour, then went for a last cocktail before the taxi arrived. This has been a wonderful holiday which became a stunning honeymoon. Neither of us want to go home yet, another month on honeymoon at the very least would be so much better.

At the same time we are both excited about going home to tell everyone that we got married by Elvis in Las Vegas, we will arrange a Wedding Party when we get back…