………and so to the wedding!

After a week of preparation and building excitement, the wedding day arrived. The whole day had been carefully planned by Tash and Chris and it went seamlessly. Friends and family had been coopted to make things run smoothly, from the making and decorating of the cake to the gathering of ivy and construction of the wedding arch. The venue was perfect and despite a rather chilly breeze, the sun shone and everyone was more than happy.

The beautiful wedding venue with Bass rock on the horizon.

The beautiful wedding venue with Bass rock on the horizon.

All the hard work that Chris and Tash had put into preparing the site paid off, from the log cabin ‘snug’ to the fire pit…….the jazz band and pizza van to the marquee and caeleigh band!

Bride, Groom, Ring Bearer, Flower Girl and Bridesmaids.

Bride, Groom, Ring Bearer, Flower Girl and Bridesmaids.

There were so many smiles as Tash and Chris made their way to the ivy arch and after a reading about love by Charlie and Freya, and they had made their vows, there wasn’t a dry eye on the cliff top!! …….but the smiles went on and on all day and into the night…….

Husband and Wife.

Husband and Wife.

This photo frame, hung from the tree was a great idea!

Photo opportunity!

Photo opportunity!

As always, weddings are about celebrating with family and friends. This was the first time we had met Chris’ family and hopefully not the last……his mum gave one of the funniest speeches…..a natural comedienne!

Brother and sisters. Wonderful to see them all together again.

Brother and sisters. Wonderful to see them all together again.

The speeches were at 7 in the evening, so Marcus had a very abstemious afternoon, but thankfully he was ‘first up’ and could relax into the evening!!

Father of the Bride speech.

Father of the Bride speech.

Many of the guests were camping onsite and as the evening turned into night and then dawn, a few stalwarts clustered around the fire and finally dispersed around 5am. We were far more sensible and made it back to the B&B after dancing the night away at 3!!

The following day was Freya’s 9th birthday……..definitely one she will always remember! The newly weds and their children spent their wedding night onsite in a motor home, so the birthday party was well under way by the time we arrived. The marquee, with its wooden dance floor, was ideal for Freya to try out her new rollers skates!

The day after and Freya's 9th birthday.

The day after and Freya’s 9th birthday.

The party went on well into the evening, but we were on grandparent duty so we left early and drove Charlie and Freya home to Edinburgh for a good night’s sleep before school the next day.

Being the last week of term, there was a lot going on and, thank goodness, we had our schedule carefully drawn up by Tash…….only one slip up on making sure Charlie had his trombone with him, but easily remedied, as the school is only a five minute walk away!!

Charlie's last day of primary school.

Charlie’s last day of primary school.

Up Up and Away!

Up Up and Away!

We spent the rest of June with the family and headed south on the 1st of July to Birmingham, to take Dan out for a birthday lunch, before heading back to Essex to spend three days with my Mum, then back to Hampshire and Nigel’s for a curry and a comfortable bed for the night, before catching our flight back to the US.

It was good to be able to sit and do absolutely nothing for 9 hours on the flight!!

When we arrived in Atlanta, there was a computer glitch and the queues were horrendous. We got more and more nervous that the Customs and Border Patrol officer might not let us back in, because we’ve basically been here since 2015, with only short exits to Canada and the Bahamas.

All that angst was for nothing!……..the young customs guy that dealt with us was so interested in the fact we lived on a sail boat, that he didn’t even glance at our passports! He stamped them both, handed them back to us and then we had a mad dash to the other side of the airport to try and catch our connecting flight……….we arrived just as the gate closed, but not to worry……..we were upgraded to the first class on the next available flight, which gave us an hour and a half to chill in the piano lounge, listening to a great jazz duo, before boarding.

It’s a shame the flight was only two hours……or maybe a blessing?!….as we were plied with free drinks before take off and during the flight!

Coming back to Jacksonville was like coming home again, except that someone has turned up the heating since we’ve been away! One of the first things we did, after calling in at the Lake Shore bar and playing pool, was to buy a cheap, mains operated, window air conditioner, which we have fitted to the ceiling hatch above the chart table.

Our life saving A/C!

Our life saving A/C!

Without it we would have to run the generator constantly to work our 240v a/c. As we are paying for electricity and have no intention of melting in the Florida heat, the purchase was, as they say, a ‘no brainer’!

Our other major decision and time consuming adventure has been to buy a car!

You may wonder why we need a car, when we have the loan of Norman’s?…….well the plan is to spend the next three months, while the hurricane season is upon us, doing a camping road trip around America!

Island Kea is happily tucked up in a secure and relatively inexpensive marina, 27 miles up stream from the Atlantic and 30ft above sea level, so well protected from any tidal surges and sheltered on three sides from strong winds.

We spent 10 days scouting around all the car dealers (and there are many of them in Jacksonville!) for a suitable vehicle for the challenge.

Our original dreams of an RV were soon abandoned when the reality of our budget and it’s lack of elasticity hit home. We went bargain basement hunting and thought we had found the perfect people carrier…….with the two rows of seats removed from the back it was perfect for sleeping in!!

Cecil of Lake Shore Bar fame, works for a dealership and was able to get our dream machine checked over by a mechanic………lucky for us he did!!, as our dream car would have quickly turned into a nightmare!

We sadly returned it to the dealer, only to find its spritely little sister winking coquettishly at us on the forecourt. We couldn’t resist and took her for a test drive………she was a 2002 Chrysler Voyager and had only done 67.000 miles. Despite a few rattles and squeaks, we were not deterred and took her the following day for a check over. New brakes, new wiper blades and new sway bars on the suspension, was the diagnosis and except for some saggy headlining, she’s in a very tidy state!

Our new pride and joy!

Our new pride and joy!

She is now ours and Marcus spent a swelteringly hot day replacing the brakes etc. She now runs beautifully. We are planning to head north to Savannah in a couple of days and spent this afternoon working out how to erect our expedition tent!

Robin and Cecil, of Lake Shore Bar and Scotland fame, have very generously lent us their tent, camp kitchen, camping stove, chairs and blow up mattress, we really are going to be glamping!

Everyone we meet is giving us advice on where to go and we have started annotating a big map of the US. It seems that there is a great deal to see and do, so we’ll just have try and do as much as we can!

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