Sunday, September 30, 2007

Auckland - New Zealand

An hour before our flight in Auckland Airport.

Around the world in 38 days continues.... We had a fantastic time in Fiji. I wrote a song on the beach of a desert island - Drawaqa - with Jim - and we performed it for our group in the evening. It's called Paradise Island and is destined to be a hit. By being in the place, and writing with a Fijian, firstly your vocabulary changes then the tone of the song as you become used to island rhythms. Great fun.

I was designated chief of our band and had to 'be chief' on another island we went to facing the chief and his band in all their regalia - a bit daunting. Drinking the cava was an experience - numb tongue then numb everything if you keep going... apparently, I didn't by the way.

We went on a large sailing ketch and had storms and sunshine, the whole island experience.

Swimming in the coral was gorgeous, cut my arm and back a bit swimming under Christiane though. Trying to be smart.

Suva and Nadi on Fiji seen and lots of memories and vistas.

Sketching the boat at 6 am as the sun came up from our desert island home being one of those.

Had a great time meeting Malcom, Katie and Holly and going back to Christiane's school for a Peace Day morning event in Suva.


I love it. England plus a bit of San Diego. So clean. Three days not really enough to get the feel of the whole country but Maori village yesterday and trips around Rotorua brilliant.

Watching the ALL BLACKS perform when you're in their country is definitely a different view. I supported the Fijians in Fiji, the All Balcks here so it will be the Australians in Oz next.

To Brisbane today. Never been will be great.

Not got it together to get videos and shots up as we go yet - this is a recce though - we'll be going around the world again I'm sure.

Just bought an English paper here. Britain looks a disaster area against the view and culture I see in New Zealand.

Mind you this is only after a few days here..... maybe I'm missing something?

Love to all in blighty.

Nicky and Christiane

Friday, September 14, 2007

San Diego

Staying with Bruce and Julie. Lovely condo. Swam this morning and sat in the hot tub in the garden - what a life.

Dinner last night was focus of our visit over here. Wonderful time at Crab Catchers at La Jolla Cove. Christiane had crab I had the daily special. We had the best seats in the house and the pelicans put on a great show for us as the sun was setting. A glass of champagne to start, great conversation, a truly beautiful woman alongside me, all was right with the world!

Seven years ago I sat a couple of tables along and enjoyed the sunset but had no girl - now I have the girl - thank you God. And thank you to our kind friends who treated us to dinner last night on our honeymoon.

We have been going to ice rinks to see what is available here in San Diego.

The San Diego Ice Arena - I called spoke to the admin lady - went along, arrived 15 minutes later than I thought and she was in a meeting. To be fair she said she would be. But, she couldn't come out to say hello to visitors from England - 6,500 miles to visit and not a minute available to say hello? Same happened when I came and tried to reach the Skating Director seven years ago. She never returned my calls and then didn't turn up for a meeting - you kind of get the vibes of a place. Battered signs outside, torn insulation in the roof, lack of kindness and flexibility of at least saying hello. Good to see though. I always feel that an ice rink has a personality and it can be gleaned from the welcome and the overall feel of a place. I may be right but it's always worked like that for me in the past in any place in the world. My summation of San Diego Ice Arena is that it's every man for himself and the management is not welcomming or open to entrepreneurial developments. Of course I could be wrong but the facility is a million miles away from the look and feel of Chris's in Chicago. Anyway, don't want to be based there at any time thanks. Good to see Eric Millot's face on the coaching board - he's a guy I new from commentary. No doubt they have some good skaters at the rink if he's on the staff. Don't know the other names on the board...

Rink in the mall near La Jolla - simple single pad, nice welcome - no one there at lunchtime except girl in shop. Nice welcome though. Good lunch. Some new jeans for me - the one's I have have got past being ripped and trendy - they are wrecked so half price clothing (as it is here) was a bargain. Simon Hewitt just joined them - good luck Simon. You and Matt and loads of girls, looks like an opportunity for you.

Ray Kroc Community Centre - met with a smile by Brian on the desk of the ice rink, had a chat with the rink manager Mark - lovely guy, open to opportunities and met Woody too. A fantastic facility integrating ice, theatre, social and community action and a pool and a Christian ethos. I was excited when I discovered it on the web and in the openness of people including Lisa - Captain John Van Cleef's wife (he's the boss man) who was lovely. They are building another 40 such centres around the US. Brilliant - what a difference a smile and a warm hello makes. Inspiring to see the community action part of the work and a church on site too. Well it's a Salvation Army facility! I never new such a thing existed! On the way into the ice rink the arch over the entrance had the slogan THE DOOR TO OPPORTUNITY strong sentiments for the kids that enter - and I liked it too...

I'll be knocking on their door to see if I can link in my BAVIP and ice and dance and performance in some way? Who knows? It would be excellent to help kids develop and achieve their goals in life.

Driving here is like being on a race track - Christiane calling directions - me just going - you can't slow down or you're lost. Seventy, wizzing across lanes and making good time everywhere... Then dead stop at rush hour! On lady was going slow across some lanes last night and it needed Christiane to shout for me to miss her. I didn't expect anyone going slow. Exciting. Compact car is a contradiction in terms of size. Goes like a rocket and is big by UK standards.

Learning about life in America. Housing tax 1.2% of property value per annum - what is that about! Seeing Chicago suburbs and centre and now here is a great perspective enhancer.

To LA tomorrow seeing friends and going to a murder Mystery party tomorrow night. Will be great fun. Church on Sunday at Jill's (my US Pastor's) church. Prophecy time scheduled for that day at the church - now that would be good to hear what God has planned for us. We shall see.

Off to find a Harley to Hire. Then to the stadium seating for a movie tonight. Busy, busy! Loving the sun and American air. Pacific Beach here we come...



Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Chicago to San Diego

Great to be on honeymoon. Fantastic time in Chicago with my great friend Chris (Howarth) and his family: Bev, James and Jean. They spoilt us amazingly.

We ate - Cheescake Factory ribs were gorgeous. We had a drink up the Hancock Tower. We went on Chris's boat (brilliant fun) - I skied for the first time in years. Got up fine and crossed the wake etc - but I'm so unfit!

We went to the Art gallery and had a wonderful afternoon seeing Impressionaist paintings, my favourite, at the second largest collection after Paris. Monets, Picassos, Gaugins, Turners a wonderful Pissaro and some Van Goghs amongst many others - and you can take pictures of them! So i had a camera full of images to remind us of our visit.

We also saw the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a tap dancer in the open air theatre in the centre of town. For free! How amazing is that - the sound was superb.

James and Chris alternatively tried to kill me on the tube that is pulled along behind the boat. A glorified yellow tire. I managed to hold on quite well before being wiped out.

I'm so proud of what Chris has accomplished and its great to see the house and the boat and the job (well three jobs he does actually - coach, skating director and assistant manager). He is living the American dream.

Met Susie Wynne Barth last night for first time in ten years - I tried to persuade her to skate with me when she was last over. She looked great and we had a laugh at Chris's.

Today San Diego then. Lunch at George's overlooking the Cove at La Jolla. Gorgeous.

Pictures up soon.



Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Give me just a little more time!

It is Wednesday, on Friday morning we are off around the world on our honeymoon. Five weeks and seven locations, some trip.

For everyone who contributed to help make this possible a huge THANK YOU. It will be an amazing time for us and I will see places I have never visited before. The places:


I have so much to do before I go. But then I always have so much to do at the moment, I love the fact I’m never bored!

When I have an end date it is wonderful for me. Something about the ‘last ten minutes’ always inspires me to create and achieve more; however stressful it may feel!

Yesterday I completed a major design task for the marketing material of a new show we have in the pipeline. Photos, copy, design development, an incredible amount of progress has been made in two weeks. I really did not think it was going to be possible and the result we’ve achieved is brilliant. My job is done for now on that project. It is great to have partners who take it on to the next stage now, whilst I swan off around the world.

Writing and design on books has been going well from a design point of view and I’ve had some major breakthroughs. Again the deadline of going away somehow forces answers to questions to become more apparent.

I think I have written around 100,000 words over three months to get stuff out of my system! Not what I would have chosen to do but I think that’s how it is. Now I’m writing ‘for the reader’ without any justifying why I’m writing or saying why what I’m writing is good. It is good and that’s that, much more grounded, effective and powerful, a much better place to be.

So a trip to take, friends to see again, and new experiences to be enjoyed I am a lucky man.

But could I just have another week or so before I go away to get things finished?