Monday, May 28, 2007

Swimsuit edition.

I think I’ve mentioned before, water isn’t really my element. However living on a tropical Island one really must make an effort to splash about a bit!

There’s so much focus with windsurfing on how you actually sail that no one tells you about the other really important part… to predict the conditions! In my brash eagerness to get on the water on Saturday I only took my 4.5 to the beach, but when I got there it was howling. Sandstorm kinda howling.... and there was nothing smaller than a 3.7 rigged anywhere, so that was a non starter. In my defense I did go in search of borrowing a smaller sail but GP’s were missing in action and & the Crompton/Walger clan were no where to be found. So Sunday I went fully prepared with my vast quiver of two sails a 4.5 Superfreak and 4.0 Maui Sails which in my mind is really like taking one 4.3 ish hybrid.
In an attempt to learn from my mistakes I even checked the wind before leaving (a respectable 22 knots at the airport) so I felt ready for anything. Except when I got to Kanaha a big bastarding squall had just come in shutting everything down.
Bollocks, I just don’t have the patience to wait around for the conditions to match my paltry talent and equipment so I headed for the pool and swam laps. Ta-daaaa!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

and now a word from our sponsor....

Imagine my surprise when this little nugget showed up via my inbox!

What can I say, if need anything branded, marketed, created or irreverently exposed then I have the man for you. Paul Chamberlain does it all, including a magnificent line of greeting cards that are the antidote to any Hallmark moment.

Now if Michelle can just get her new product manufactured, guess what we're all getting for Christmas!

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I had a great trip home to England and it just highlighted what a special place I live in year round. Despite a 3 day on again-off again migraine and some wicked jet lag I’m basking in wearing the least amount of clothes possible and being home.

Prompted by the promise of prime reserved seating under the tree at Thousand Peaks, this afternoon I headed to the Southside for some sun and relaxation. We were quite the team of geriatrics, Michelle with her newly arthroscopiced knee, Ulli with a painful rib he’d just popped and me just coming out of a 3 day headache. If you didn’t have an ailment we didn’t want to know you.
The best entertainment however was Michelle’s need to pee. Under doctor’s orders to not get her knee wet, how exactly was she to empty a full bladder?! After Francky dug a pee luge in the sand and I suggested Ulli piggy back her in to the water & receive a special kinda shower, this was her best attempt. Knee up, bum down and awaiting the synchronicity of her desire to wee and a nice shore break douche!
Alas, there was no happy ending but a bearing of the truth, that our favorite mermaids real need was simply to get in the water. Bless.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


8:00 am: Wake up and have a proper English breakfast including my personal fave black pudding , yes that's the mystery item in front of the real bacon and I really do like it!
10:00 am: Step outside for a breath of fresh air and work up an appetite for lunch. Ok-Ok while an Englishman's home is his castle not everyone actually lives in one. As a mere pleb....I did go and partake of lunch in the tea room (slightly confusing I know) at Ripley Castle and it was fabby.
Noon: Thirsty work all that digesting and castleing, so a beverage was in order.
3:00pm: Tea time and of course one gets a little peckish in the afternoon so a small tart (in my case) or cream bun should do the trick!
7:00pm: I had to hav a few..........
8:00pm Again all that digesting builds up a thirst, so a quick pint of Sam Smiths and I'm a happy girl.

Jesus no wonder the Brits are the fat bastards of Europe!

Ok-lest you think my next post will be of my coronary bypass, let me assure you that was not a real day in my life (ok the beer bit was)! However, one of my observations this trip has been the amount of large people I’ve seen. When I first moved to America the sheer girth that the natives could grow to astounded me and I’m sorry to say the Brits are catching up.

Upon entering a household in England I hear the following "do you want a cuppa"? and "put some meat on yer bones"! to wit I reply "Yes, milk & one sugar thanks" and "I'm OK as I am thanks".

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Yorkshire Lass.

The Yorkshire dales are not even a 20 minute drive from Mums house and they are a stunning national park that runs through the backbone of England straddling the Pennines. Every time I go here my sole (ur...i mean soul) is satiated. The fields are veined with old dry stone rock walls (not a lick of cement used) and aged farm storage houses. Rivers cut through the bottom of the valleys and there are old trees, aincient ruins and myriads of wild flowers that bring splashes of colour & personality to this green & pleasant land.

Can you see my satiated soul?!
I say 'mint sauce' my bro says "The dales; where men are men and sheep are nervous"!

As a kid after a big Sunday lunch of roast beef, yorkshire pudding, gravy, roast potatoes, mashed carrots and of course home made apple pie & custard……we all needed to walk off the gluttony. Dad would drive us all out to the moors to ‘blow off the cob webs” & we’d walk ankle deep in bracken and heather until we were done. The dales pull strongly at me to walk, explore and get lost in its beauty and tranquility.

Today instead (after only two halves of black sheep lager) I drove my Mum's teeny tiny little car into a teeny tiny little excuse for a wall and caused a teeny weeny little scratch. A momento for her (as it were) of my visit!

Friday, May 11, 2007


I had no expectations for this trip except one, which was to be able to connect my laptop to my Mums DSL line at home. WRONG!

First of all her DSL line thinks it’s a dial up. It also requires software that Mum no longer has and therefore will not recognize my computer. No problem, I’ll just grab my webmail from her PC. WRONG! My Mums dinosaur uses Windows 98 and for whatever reason it will not recognize my webmail address or my camera cable. My other hope of an unsecured signal was also dashed, ‘don’t panic’ I thought, I’ll go to plan B.

I joined a great gym under the pretense of working out, but really it’s for the free internet access. So despite the fact that there is no sound and I can’t check my fave porn sites, at least I can retrieve my e-mail from there…..sort of. Over the last few days only one or two of the four monitors has been working and I’m either waiting for a nine year old boy to finish his game of destroying the world one pixel at a time, or there’s a fit beer drinking bloke (yes British gym = pub) is breathing down my neck ready destroy the world one pixel at a time. Breathe Sharon, breathe.

In case you’re thinking ahead here and wondering the obvious, the good news is there’s not a Starbucks in sight of my Mums flat, the bad, there’s also not a wi-fi post.

No problem, my bro lives in the 21st century and has wireless. Having not seen him in over two years you’d think I have the decency to chat politely before pushing him and his wife aside, pulling out my laptop and making myself cozy. Hell no - there was posting to be done! Dear God I can’t describe the bliss, heaven and nirvana I felt at the sight of new e-mails cascading in to my inbox, I was finally a complete and happy woman. No time to waste as posts were circling like planes ready to land at Heathrow, I signed on to blogger. WHAT?! Now my computer thinks blogger is a virus (which I now have on good authority it is) and won’t let me in! Again, no “how are you’s” no “hey the house looks great” no “how’s it going at work” just “Bollocks-Red can you come & help me”?!

Somewhere in my evolution I must have turned into an instant gratification yank and forgotten my ‘let’s all form a nice queue” roots because with time, blogger graciously let me sign in. However with so much time lost and a better offer showing up (namely dinner and Top Gear on the telly) my bro flippantly said “well if you need to log on just come over when we’re at work, sit in the driveway and use the wireless from there’. So feeling like a junkie needing a massive hit I took him up on this generous offer (a key would have been charitable) and the next day madly went searching for the signal. His novice suggestion of the car was no good at all, the front bench, very low & intermittent, bastards, bollocks and god dammit this is my karma for being an addict, I knew it was going to work by the trash cans!. Hallelujah-free at last, free at last, a strong signal and I’m free at last!

A picture tells a thousand words.

I've been taking so many pici's that are quintisentailly English, so for those of you that have never crossed the pond, here's a few to give you a feel of what Endland looks like in May. Which reminds me of a pick up line used by another Brit to me years ago "i'll provide the bring the crumpet!"
A lovely water feature with no bathroom nearby!
Tiptoe through the tulips..... dedicated to Paul Chamberlain who's the only non Btit who'll get it!
A room with a view.

Yer big pansy!
Author in full bloom.
Headline from the Daily Mail today.... 'It's mass Wisteria!'

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Surf and the city.

This morning we did our daily ladies walk, this time to the Alhambra gardens. After only three days Mum is speeding up her gait and doing really well. Her friend Ruth joined us and it was delightful to stroll, chat and listen to the melodic songs of the birds. I must be an old lady at heart because I’m quite partial to the pace!

After working up an appetite with the over 70’s club, I enjoyed a leisurely lunch in the city with my bro & Lesley. Gentrification is everywhere and the restaurant we dined at sits on what used to be the road between an old building and a new development. The feel is hip and modern but with history integrated and embraced. This trip Leeds feels like meeting an old friend who looks ten times better than when you last them. 'What about the food'? I hear you cry......well as we dined at an Italian Restaurant that flies all their ingredients in from Italy, it was fab! Lesley was in the loo from whence I just came and upon exiting the ladies, I'd marched boldly foward finding myself not as expected in the bar of Brio but the gents urinal! Hence the big grin.....or was that the Peroni?

Leeds is the fastest growing city in the UK and the skyline shows it. New glassy office blocks and apartment building are springing up everywhere especially along the River Aire. There’s even an O’Neil Surf shop in town and when I enquired how many surf boards they sold, the bloke said 'ummmm we don't really sell any'!

It turns out Lesley’s nephew was a windsurf instructor in Egypt for a few years. So while on a diving trip there, Red and Les showed up for the perfunctory family windsurf lesson. Chris, 25 (who mainly taught advanced students) wasn’t so much worried about the elder family novices embarrassing him, as he was my brothers Speedo’s! 'Baggies don't fit well in a wet suit' was/is my bros' excuse. Thank God the surf culture has permeated even the North of England as demonstrated here by our hero!

English country garden.

Upon taking a nice little walk this afternoon we ambled past a hedge and my Mum (who has a keen eye for the inappropriate) observed a plastic bag stuck in the shrubbery “I bet there’s dog shit in there” she said with authority! Neither one of us had the nerve to check, but I was still thinking about that plastic bag late into the evening. So forgoing Church on Sunday morning I did a little detective work to see if Mums hunch that some people will do anything to avoid prosecution was correct, thankfully she was wrong!

I’m on a (not so secret) mission to get my Mum walking this trip and so bought her a pedometer to make it fun. As an aside I counted the number of steps from Leeds to Maui and it was 14,831! Doctors recommend at least 2000 steps daily so despite the 17 hours of bum in seat, the only way I can explain my profuse activity must be excessive trips to the loo!
In my new role as fitness instructor we started out with a gentle meander through the Canal Gardens. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and awash with English visuals for eyes accustomed to swaying palm trees.

I often see people whose picture I want to capture, but fail to follow through due to awkwardness. I was telling Mum this whilst pointing out my muse on a nearby bench, when the urge to capture this handsome devil overrode my apprehension and I strode up to him asking permission to take his pici “I’ll break yer camera I will” he replied in true Yorkshire style. I’m not sure who’s smile was bigger, his or mine.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Homewood bound.

Eureka I made it to my first post-a high speed connection has not been the easiest thing for me to find in the old country...still here I am!

As I started my journey from one home to another, I realized that I was stopping along the way at the only four places I’ve ever lived on our big beautiful earth. 1989- Present: The brilliant little town of Makawao on the lower slopes of Haleakala, Maui. This epic little town is small in stature but large on personality. It supplies one shop of everything you need with a mixture of old world charm and new age calm.

1981-1989: How cool a sled is this to get picked up in on the way to Blighty?! Here is my best friend on the planet Jules, in her shagadellic convertible mini. She picked me up at SFO for a quick brekie between flights and we had a few quality hours of pure joy being in each others company.
San Francisco was home for many years when I first left the UK and I had some wild experiences there that I’ll save for another post! I never thought that I’d want to live anywhere else, but when I moved to Maui the feeling I experienced when I physically landed was an overwhelming sense that I was home.
1987-1989-Thanks to my good buddy Jules, I was set up with a killer job in London after I finished four years of college in Leeds. We worked (and I use that term loosly) at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane. The Hotel has an apartments section that plays the roll of London’s HQ for many large American corporations and Jules and I were the two cheeky receptionists. How we got away with being drunk at work, sneaking into Sir.Rocco Forte’s office and generally goofing off under the thin guise of professionalism is a testament only to the fact the management was infinitely worse than we were!
1961-1987: Leeds, UK, home to a hand full of famous peeps including Peter O'Toole, Chris Moyles, Corrine Bailey Rae, Jimmy Saville and um…..well me! Yorkshire folk have a reputation of being hardy, forthright & funny. Or as my brother would say we call a spade a spade and not a hand operated earth inverting tool!