I'm not going to make any excuses for the rather lengthy delay between posts on this blog - I have them - they're just not very good.
I'm also not going to make excuses for the fact the over the next few weeks I'm going to hijack this blog from its original purpose, and put it to work as a family travel diary. You see, in just a few short days, our Canadian adventure begins. And goodness me - there is palpable excitement in the household!
In January 2011, I read an article about Vancouver and British Columbia - and right there and then - one of my lifetime dreams crystallised. I've long dreamt of travelling to Canada and seeing grizzly bears. Until that moment, it was just that, a dream. But a little voice in my head started asking "why not now?" The more I thought about it - the more it seemed like a great idea - and a great place to take the kids.
And so the planning began. For the last 20 months we've been surrounded by pictures cut from magazines of bears, Orca, snapshots of Vancouver, float planes and maple leaves. There is a calendar of bears in the loo. We've had a map of British Columbia and Alberta under glass on the coffee table - a daily reminder of where we're going. Rhys & Amy have saved almost all their pocket money for the last year (I'm very proud of both of them, and I admire their self control!).
I have to say that this trip would not have been possible without Mum & Dad's help, and their inspiration. When I was 13, I was lucky enough to travel to England with Mum & Dad. I loved it - I loved the travel, I loved the amazing things we saw, and the experiences we had. I have such vivid memories of that time with them (although I have tried to dim the memory of the "expired passport incident" at Auckland airport).
For a number of reasons, I haven't followed up that first overseas experience with the usual Kiwi OE, but the dream has always been there. One day, one day. Now that day is very nearly here. And I am going to share this experience with the two most important people in my world - my kids.
I do hope that if Mum & Dad are watching from "the other side", they are smiling with approval. And yes Mum, I've just done all the cleaning today, so the house will be left in a clean and tidy state. Oh, and I've double checked the passports too!