Friday, 11 September 2015

Last night I had the strangest dream...

Hi!

I haven't blogged in a very long time. I could make a bunch of excuses but at the end of the day my six month old baby and my constant quest for perfection are what's getting in the way...
Well, yesterday changed things. I'm not sure why but something clicked yesterday and then I was 'filled with glorious purpose' and up half the night with a dream! and now I'm tired... Haha...
I want to share this dream with you because then it's no longer just a dream but a vision too and it gives me less excuses to ignore it later. Anyway a lot of this post is going to just seem like a brain dump and I guess it is, so if you're reading bear with me...

I want to start by letting you know being on maternity leave has been one of those checkpoint moments in life to me. I have been SO thankful to be able to take a year off to be with my child in his most precious of moments, his most vulnerable state. To continue to be his habitat until he is more naturally ready to un-attach himself from his mama. But it has also given me time to look at what it is that I am 'doing' with my life... As a melancholy personality I am constantly reassessing, constantly analysing myself (and others, I'll admit it), life is a constant opportunity for improvement, for reaching goals and finding 'success'. Therefore I have found it hard to appreciate maternity leave and just 'be' with my beautiful bubba from time to time and reaching the six month mark for me has found itself to be somewhat of a half-way marker, a reminder to say; what are you doing? Are you really 'just' a mum? (Words straight from the Devils mouth to be sure, what on earth is wrong with being a mum? What's with the 'just'?!) This in turn has led to lots of prayer, which can't be a bad thing, and ultimately to me watching lots of TEDX talks about career motivation...
I was assessing what I am good at, what I'm interested in and my passions to ultimately determine THE question; what was I put on this earth to do? I won't bore you with all the details but ultimately an idea was birthed from these wonderings that I want to share with you today...
I love magazines and have done so since my pre-teen days where I would sit flicking through my big sisters Dolly magazines in the bedroom that we shared. I also love women, particularly young women who are on the verge of realising themselves, much like my younger self sitting in my bedroom reading wth curiosity and wonder. And I also love Jesus and the justice and mercy he brought into this world. What if all three of these loves were combined?
I Let my mind, heart and soul go there and this is what emerged:

A beautiful quarterly, self-financing magazine that promotes positive self-image, spirituality, social justice and health and well-being.

Many of you would know that I am a member (soldier) of The Salvation Army and that my husband is a pastor (officer) of The Salvation Army. For that reason I would want this project to have the values of The Salvation Army without screaming army (I.e without all the weird bits that put everyone else off).

It would be a magazine that any coffee shop in Melbourne would happily have sitting out on their tables or any young woman would happily pick up and read while at the same time be influenced by the very things that make up the values of The Salvation Army.

Subscribers would also receive a digital copy and social media presence would be essential to its success.

This would be a partnership between the women's ministries, youth, editorial, creative arts and social justice departments of The Salvation Army. It would be something that any woman from any of those departments would want to pick up and read while at the same time wanting to share it with their daughters, friends and even 'clients'. Eventually it would be great if it could become a magazine that is distributed through the mainstream (places that are aligned in mission).

Content could come from all over the territory/ country but not just from 'salvo' sources.

Readers are to be respected as though they are intelligent, competent and fun leaders in their area of influence.

No photo-shop, women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and ages are to be displayed on its pages. Every woman is celebrated as beautiful and challenges the social norms on beauty whilst acknowledging the creative design of the universe and everything in it (including its women). Beautiful is not vain or materialistic but it is also not passive or degraded, it is celebrated and admired.

This magazine aims to celebrate all the gifts women have been given while ultimately being love to women. It strives to be original and have worth, it's not disposable. Beautiful is modest but this does not mean it's not fashionable or even sexy.

This magazine will see celebrities in the positive and will only write about them that way. It promotes modest living (within your means) and integrity.

While the dream is to promote the values of The Salvation Army, the salvos does this weird thing where it has a ranking system and it refers to their officers (ministers) in that way... I believe this is completely counter-cultural and certainly not biblical... It is for this reason this magazine would not refer to people based on their rank but rather in regard to what they are contributing I.e. June knop, editor in chief, Tracey Tidd, Director of Women's Ministries...

I see this magazine bravely approaching issues of real relevance such as sexuality, mental health and substance abuse through people's stories as opposed to telling people what to think and believe...

So wow, what a brain dump but it doesn't stop there, I envisage that this magazine could be more than a magazine but a movement with several stages of mobilisation... Beautiful relevant events could be held all over the country for women and that's the word that's really coming up in regards to this dream... Relevant!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Puppies, Pink Lemonade and Snow

 

Simon and I have been married almost 5 months, it’s been 18 weeks of marriage and I’ve gotta say, we’ve been through a lot already! We’ve had our honeymoon in Hawaii which you can read about here and here. Then we had Christmas which we spent in Adelaide (South Australia) and Ararat (Victoria) before coming back to Bendigo the day all our boxes moved to Darwin (Northern Territory). We cleaned a house, said goodbye and moved to Darwin in January. Since arriving we have unpacked (sort of), started new jobs (I’ve started two!), had to meet new people, get adjusted to the extremely hot and humid weather up here and we had a fur baby!

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It’s been a very busy and full 18 weeks! Something that has become abundantly clear to both of us is how opposites attract but there is always going to be conflict. I guess it’s about how you deal with that conflict and your differences that really makes all the difference in making a relationship of opposites work. This post is intended to be a positive one, one of encouragement but I gotta be clear and say up front… Simon and I are two completely different people and this often creates a lot of conflict for us, we have had to work really hard on our communication to not make the past 18 weeks a warzone. Let me explain;

Simon and I met at work. He hired me. Although The Salvation Army (where we work) has some very tight social circles (particularly in Victoria) we hadn’t actually met until I drove from Melbourne to Bendigo for the interview. It didn’t take long for our mutual attraction to became evident and one night, while we were in Wodonga for work, Simon told me how he felt about me. Luckily I felt the same way too and there began a beautiful love story Winking smile

Or did it?

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Of course it did but we spend so much time together we sometimes forget that we are actually quite different people and with these differences come different needs and priorities. I like to be organised and plan things out, Simon is a ‘wing it’ man. I am a complete nerd, I love to study and read and write, Simon likes to play video games that require as little mental stimulation as possible, the more violent the better apparently. My motto is ‘why put off till tomorrow what you can do today’, Simon’s motto is ‘Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow’. Obviously we love each other for these opposite aspects of our personalities; Simon has helped me relax and not be such a perfectionist all the time, the details don’t always matter, or if they don’t get done it doesn’t always spell ‘failure’. And I have helped Simon with organisation and productivity.

We feel very strongly that God has brought us together for his mission and for his purpose and for each of our own ultimate happiness.

Especially when we eat chicken and I want the leg and he wants the breast…

That makes me very happy!

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But in all seriousness, the title of this post came out of an argument, a funny argument but an argument all the same. We refer back to it from time to time, every time we need to remind ourselves how different we are. I look at Simon (or the other way around) and I say ‘Puppies, Pink Lemonade and Snow’… It was during our engagement and we were driving… I think it might have been from Bendigo to Melbourne which is about a two hour drive. I was frustrated because my entire life at this point was consumed by wedding ‘stuff’. Don’t ask me how far away we were at this point from the actual wedding but I would estimate maybe six months to-go. So it was close enough that I had wanted to have all the major decisions made but far enough away that I was just starting to hone in on the details.

Details… I would guess that that word would cause the biggest tension in our relationship out of anything. I had a VERY detailed to-do list leading up to our wedding with timelines (which I was prepared to be flexible and realistic with but not so flexible that everything got done in the last month of our engagement). Simon had a vague idea of what he wanted and he knew that he had been allocated tasks but wasn’t stressing out in the least. It had gotten to the point of tension in our different approaches to wedding planning. I didn’t want to be a nag but I felt he needed to know how stressed I was about the entire production. I felt if he could only pay attention for long enough to put a tick next to something then it would provide me with a very high level of satisfaction!

Simon chose that very moment to bring up an idea that he had randomly seen (he tells me it was some kind of lantern idea, I honestly cannot remember, how’s that for details, ha). I had, obviously, been pouring over wedding magazines and blogs, websites and pinterest for months, for hours, sometimes days at a time. Not to mention all the pre-planning I had done since I was about 12 years old… I basically just liked to look at pretty white things by this stage... Simon’s ‘idea’ had already been through the filter in my mind and had already been silently vetoed due mostly to time constraints, clearly I had not communicated this to Simon but somehow he was supposed to know anyway.

This caused a mini argument that mostly involved my ego becoming inflated about how much time and effort I had put into the wedding planning. I was frustrated that Simon thought he could just come in with any old idea that pops into his head and expect it to be accepted onto the drawing board.

Clearly it didn’t fit the plan and the timeline, hello! What a dick. Me I mean… Anyway this is where the Puppies come in… Simon went silent, as he often does when I get on my high horse. (I really gotta remember to come down from there more often.)

Due to our vast differences in approaches to conflict resolution (Simon shuts down, I continue to explode express) this frustrated me even more. Then I uttered the phrase most men hate more than anything, ‘What are you thinking about?’ Simon’s answer was ‘Puppies, Pink Lemonade and Snow!’ I couldn’t help myself, I burst out laughing! How’s that for diffusing a tense situation?

He went on to explain that he was thinking about us getting a puppy after we get married (we had already been talking about it for some time), the pink lemonade we were going to drink at the wedding and whether or not it was going to snow in Mount Macedon… Now I could have continued my childish behaviour with my defiant pedestal attitude but not only was his answer so absurd it was hilarious but it told me his heart was actually in the right place. All I could say at that moment was ‘I wish I could live inside your brain just for one day!’ Could you imagine it? While my head was full of pointless details and timelines that were literally keeping me up at night Simon was thinking about;

1. Our Future – The puppies signify him wanting to start at least a fur family with me…

2. Our Happiness – The image of us sitting together sipping pink lemonade at our wedding was certainly a dreamy place to reside.

& 3. Well…

Actually I don’t have anything for number three… Snow..? Hmm… I guess, to me, it just was such a great example of our two separate personalities coming together in such a real and stark way that it was clear we needed each other!

One of the most important things I have learnt (and continue to learn) in the past 18 weeks of marriage is I don’t have to strive for perfection in our marriage… God has already done that… Our marriage is perfect in our imperfections because the less perfect Simon and I are at being husband and wife the more room there is for God to be there. I just gotta remember to trust…

So far God has done a good job of reminding me when I forget that… And he gave me a pretty patient husband with a special place he can retreat to anytime I start riding that old nag and it’s full of puppies and pink lemonade and… snow… I’m really focussing on celebrating our victories, cutting our losses and continuing on in love and positivity! What’s God teaching you through the imperfect moments right now? ***

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Our Side Table Thingamee

 

Hi Again!

I wanted to share a project with y’all that we did last year before we even got married! We are just catching up on life and so just catching up on documenting these little projects that make Simon and I who we are!

We found this telephone table at Echuca Salvation Army for about $20

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and with a little bit of attention we turned it into this

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The decorating is still a work in process but I wanted to show you how we gave this little table new life. We’re planning on tackling a larger project using the same method soon…

Now I have to be honest, Simon pretty much did all of this on his own (when I actually wanted him to be doing wedding planning stuff) so I can’t take the credit for any of it. I took some photos that was it and suddenly… It was done!

So first of all we took out the drawer

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… and removed the hardware.

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Then gave it a thorough sanding by hand.

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Simon was very thorough…

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Then he gave it a good spray undercoat.

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We chose White Knight from Bunnings. This is what those in the USA call ‘primer’.

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Then we tackled the actual table.

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We had to remove the brown corduroy cushion.

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Sorry. Not great photo, the space was pretty messy in between wedding projects etc…

There was a little bit of damage under the cushion on the chip board but since it was only going to be covered up by a cushion again it didn’t really matter.

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Here’s after Simon’s thorough sanding. (and after the space was cleaned up a bit)!

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And after the undercoat.

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Then onto that cushion…

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Hmm, it’s definitely seen better days and I think I was still in nappies the last time brown corduroy was considered ‘hip’…

As you can see the material was attached to a chipboard backing by heavy duty staples over the foam cushion.

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So using some pliers and a screwdriver Simon removed the corduroy.

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And then using the old corduroy as a template Simon cut out the new fabric and nailed it back over the cushion.

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We got the fabric from Spotlight. Do you love the cabbage rose toile pattern?

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By this stage the undercoat on the drawer and the table was dry and the fun was to begin.

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We used Dulux Quick Dry in Sky Blue.

Using long extensive strokes in a well ventilated area we transformed that dark shabby lady into a fun colourful showgirl!

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Once the paint had dried thoroughly we put the handle back on and attached the cushion and this was the result…

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It sat at our front door in Bendigo until we packed up and moved ‘tup Norf! And now it sits at our front door in Palmerston.

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We would love to mount both the blackboard and the mirror on the wall, maybe put a frame around the mirror (using crown moulding pieces) and put a picture in that frame… But on the whole we’re happy with it!

What do you think?

Have you ever transformed a dark shabby lady into a fun colourful showgirl?

Happy Day!***

Friday, 1 March 2013

Hawaii Part Two (Oahu)

Hello again! As many of you might know Simon and I went to Hawaii for our honeymoon last November. Here continues part two of our adventures…

So we arrived back on the most popular island of Hawaii, Oahu. Here’s a reminder of the islands of Hawaii. We spent the first half of our honeymoon on Kauai.

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Two of the places we spent the most time while we were in Honolulu (the capital) were the Ala Moana Centre (a big awesome mall) and Starbucks! Was just nice to be able to soak up the creature American comforts while we could…

The Ala Moana Centre boasted a pond with giant Goldfish…

Ala Moana Fish

I also loved the buses! We hired a car for our time back on Oahu to get around the island so we didn’t actually use them much but I loved the concept.

the bus

See the carrier on the front for bikes? Genius Integrated Transport Solution! Instant Geek moment for me! Ride your bike to the bus stop, put your bike on the front of the bike where it is both safe and out of the way of other passengers and then catch the bus to work! Ensuring you take your bike with you of course… Awesome! Geek moment over, let’s carry on with the tour…

So the first tourist attraction we went to was Diamond Head.

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It’s an old volcano crater that you can climb up with magnificent views of Waikiki.

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You can either walk through and pay by person or drive through (before making the hike up the crater) and pay by car. Then you are free to stay as long as you would like.

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The hike up is a tough one though, you will need to wear sneakers, you should also take a couple of bottles of water in a backpack. They were serving refreshments at a van onsite but they were pretty limited and if you’re on a budget you’re always going to get twice as much water from Woolworths for half the price!

It took us about an hour and a half (up and back) but if you’ve got kids with you (we don’t recommend it for real littlies under 8 unless you’re prepared to carry them half the way) or wanna take your time it would take over 2 hours…

A must-do if you’re in Honolulu though. Just for the views.

Our next adventure was Kailua Beach! This was both of our favourite day of our entire honeymoon!

Kailua Simon

We went to Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks (one of the tourist mags had a voucher for 20% off) and hired a double kayak, snorkelling gear for two and a wet bag to store our stuff in. Then we watched a safety video about where we could and couldn’t go, some tips and tricks for snorkelling, and info about other wildlife and then, we were off.

Kailua Renee

 

I loved it! Simon had done all of this before here in Australia but it was all new to me…

We kayaked South from Kailua along the coast to Lanikai where we got in the water and went snorkelling. To start with I was a little panicky but then… we saw a green sea turtle and my fear was replaced with excitement and awe and curiosity!

Lanikai Simon

Kailua boasts a Whole Foods Market (love!) so I introduced Simon to the wonder that is Whole Foods and we bought our lunch and took it with us in our wet bag! We stopped and pulled out our lunch at Lanikai.

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Grr. Hottie! Winking smile

After snorkelling and lunch in Lanikai we hopped back into our kayak and set off for two islands just off the coast. I loved the fact that we were just in our kayak, in the ocean, on our own, directing our own path (whilst diligently following the expert instructions given to us at the beginning of the day).

We saw two other green sea turtles just swimming along while we kayaked. Both of them just kind of appeared out from under a wave and it was just like, oh hey, how are ya?

The two islands we visited were the Mokolua Islands, basically the only way to get to these islands is by kayak and they had some really unique birdlife on each. Both islands were very small with nothing much on them except bushes and birds and crabs but they were beautiful and we both felt really lucky to be out there.

Eventually we kayaked back to Kailua and back to Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks. Honestly THE BEST DAY!

Kailua Sailboards

We would recommend anyone who is in Honolulu to take the 20 minute drive East to Kailua and Lanikai and go to Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks direct (not through an activities agent). They were so friendly, told us which day of the week they thought would be best for us to come and gave just such good service!

Moving on, our next best day was Thanksgiving! This was both mine and Simon’s first Thanksgiving and we were both really thankful to be spending it together after just having gotten married, we had a lot to be thankful for!

We were invited to attend The Salvation Army Honolulu Thanksgiving Dinner. We thought it would be cool to check it out but what we didn’t realise was that we would be spending it with 1900 other people!

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It was amazing, seriously we had never been a part of anything like it at such a large scale and with such high level of organisation!

First Thanksgiving

Table after table after table was laid out in one of Honolulu’s Entertainment Centre Pavilions. There was entertainment, table decorations and volunteer servers from several different charity organisations (other than The Salvation Army) and there was a WarCry at every single place setting!

Place Settings

The Mayor of Honolulu, the President of The Bank of Honolulu and the Divisional Commander all spoke, it was truly a community event. Even the school children had made placemats and decorations!

Happy Thanksgiving

AND we got to meet some pretty cool Salvo peeps too! Rob Nolan runs a gap-year program called Revolution Hawaii (or Rev-Hi) and those guys had set up a prayer room onsite. Very cool…

The next day we set off for Pearl Harbour! It had been closed for Thanksgiving so we wanted to make sure we fitted it in as soon as possible.

This, really, to be honest, was Simon’s day. I was more than happy to oblige because by this stage he had done more than his fair share of shopping down the strip in Waikiki.

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I know to some of you this is going to sound a little disrespectful but really, not being American, I didn’t get the appeal. I mean I can understand it but I didn’t feel it. So the following might seem brash and surfacey…

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Simon with a big gun…

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Simon on the Ole’ Miss’ (USS Missouri). Apparently Computer Gamers should know this ship well (?!)

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Down the hatch…

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I was trying to take it serious…

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But really I was just amusing myself in my mind by pretending to be a Wartime pin-up girl…

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OK, I’ll admit, some of it was really interesting but after being on a big ship for 30 minutes I had kind of reached my limit of impression. By this stage I was all, ehh…

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But look, it made the big guy happy.

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And ok, we did have some fun…

But by the time we got off Ole’ Miss’ and were heading for an airport hangar full of old war planes I was kinda glad when the dark clouds that had been hanging over us all day decided to open up and rain all over us. Not gonna lie…

Pearl Harbour was good to say I’ve been but just not for me. The glorification of war is something I just don’t think I’ve ever really understood…

SO I was really glad when the next day we got in our hire car and headed North on the island of Oahu. The first stop we made that day was to the Dole Plantation!

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Home of the Pineapple Express!

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I’m sure you’ve eaten Dole Pineapple at some point in your lifetime. Mr Dole essentially invented the concept of tinning pineapple and other fruits, smart guy.

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We hopped on this little train and had a tour around the plantation. And then afterwards Simon got to eat his first All-American hotdog.

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And I got to drink a pineapple soft serve slushy out of a plastic pineapple…

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All our dreams came true on this trip Winking smile

Then we were off on the road again to continue North, past the North Shore beaches (where some of the big surf comps were happening) and onto the Mormon community of Laie home to the Polynesian Cultural Centre!

This was by far another one of my recommendations if you are visiting the island of Oahu! It is essentially a cultural theme park that represented the polynesian countries of Hawaii, Samoa, New Zealand (Aotearoa), Fiji, Tonga and Tahiti.

We made the traditional crafts of Samoa.

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Watched a water parade.

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And a Fijian man scale a tree with no safety supports whatsoever.

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We had a traditional luau.

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And we saw a spectacular arena show displaying all the polynesian cultures and traditional dances.

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Lighting was terrible as we weren’t allowed to take photos during the actual production (they actually had staff walking around confiscating cameras if anyone used them), sorry.

It was so good to fully experience the Hawaiian (and other) cultures outside of commercial Honolulu. The Centre also helps fund the college education of hundreds of students from all over Polynesia as well which was really good to know and such a great idea to educate communities that are often marginalised.

Then we were back to our hotel room on Waikiki.

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A word of advice on staying on Waikiki; It’s not really worth staying right on the beach, especially if you have an internal room with no windows!

This was essentially the extent of our room that I got on a special deal with our flights.

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We spent very little time here but we could have gotten a lot nicer room if we weren’t staying across the road from the beach (that we weren’t that impressed with and couldn’t see from our room anyway). If we had our time again we would have stayed somewhere like Kailua and still hired a car and done Waikiki but it would have been a nicer room possibly with nicer amenities…

Anyway, here ends our Hawaiian adventure as the next day we flew home, until next time…

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