Dear Friends and Family,
A lot has been happening lately in our newly formed family. For the past three weeks we have been on holiday on the North Island of New Zealand. Initially I was not meant to go with Maxine, Lilly and Maxines mother, Julia, to New Zealand, instead I was supposed to go back to Virginia Beach to work with Seaward Marine Services maintaining the Navys ships to make some cash to pay the bills. I left Maxine and Lilly on the first of February in London to head back to VB to work, stayed with Katie and Kyle for a lovely superbowl night in DC then headed down to VB. When I checked my email that day I was delighted to see three emails with the subject "URGENT JOB OFFER" from the instructor of my weld inspection course in Scotland. The year before hand I had been feverishly sending out CVs and calling companies all over the world to try and land a job like this one so you can imagine my delight at the news. After some emailing and phone calls I received an official job offer from Euroflow Designs Limited which is a Nigerian company that specializes in Inspection of offshore oil platform installations, they have ongoing contracts with Shell.
The job I am doing is a standard inspection job of a pier at the Liquid Natural Gas Terminal on Bonny Island, Nigeria. The job entails inspection of all anodes and measurement of their depletion and effectiveness, and close detailed inspection of all important welds. Every 5 years they have to do inspections such as these to please the insurance companies. I will be staying on a "luxurious" expat camp with golf courses, bars, restaurants etc.. where all the expat workers stay, all heavily secured and safe. I just met with the owner of Euroflow yesterday for lunch and he left a great impression on me. There are definitely some companies and areas you nor any foreigner especially white Americans would ever want to work due to high risk of kidnap, however where I am working there has never been an incident and after talking with many people who live in Nigeria and also Security experts I am confident I will be fine and am not worried. I dont have any exposure to Nigeria except for the airports and the LNG Terminal itself as it has a landing strip and I get flown straight from the airport to my work site. I am very excited and due to fly out on Saturday night. The company wants me to come out for the duration of the job which is 90 days so I will be missing Maxine and Lilly loads but will be able to see them everyday on Skype. Afterwards I plan on taking three months off to make up for lost time.
After confirmation of this job I thought it wise to spend some of my money before I earned it and joined Max, Lilly and the extended family in New Zealand for a nice holiday and quality time before heading off to Nigeria. At this moment in our lives we are searching the globe over for a suitable nesting spot where we can live, and have been for the past three years. It is not an easy quest but we think we may have finally found our destination with New Zealand. This is the long term plan anyway and we wont be in any mad dash to get settled in New Zealand as I may soon be on a one month on, one month off rotation for work and cant be going half way around the world every four weeks. New Zealand is amazing, its not as warm as we like but that and distance are the only downfalls we can imagine. The surfing is amazing with unlimited potential, the diving is good, its on the door step of the best diving in the world in South Asia and the South Pacific, healthcare is high quality and free, education is of a high standard and its a fantastic place to raise children, not to mention world class snowboarding and it is an outdoors paradise. In NZ I met Maxines extended family who are all lovely, explored some different areas, did some extreme outdoor activities in Taupo including Jet Boating in a river and extreme acrobatics, did as much surfing as possible and dived the famous Poor Knights.
Lilliana is five months old now and will be getting her first taste of solid food tomorrow in the form of mushed banana, we dont see it as being a particularly challenging feat as everything she gets her paws on goes straight into her mouth and promptly chewed to bits. She can stand up quite well when holding onto something and even manages to take real numerous steps forward and back when we hold her hands and balance her, she should be walking in a few months and will immediately be put on golfing, surfing and scuba diving lessons, with snowboarding and skateboarding being optional. She gets cuter everyday and we are loving being parents, we are blessed to have such a lovely, well behaved, travel friendly baby.
In other news I have progressed my interest and passion in underwater photography by getting some placings in a couple underwater photo contests and also my proudest accomplishment of managing to get a cover shot on London Diver Magazine, they used my picture for the cover and did a full page feature of my photos as well as a few other underwater photographers, all of which you can check out on www.londondivermagazine.co.uk. I also managed to get a couple of my pictures in Intrepid Magazine which is a sporting magazine in New Zealand, luckily my dive buddy was a freelance writer for the magazine and needed some pictures to go along with his article. None of which have made me any money but every bit helps to add to my CV to one day become a professional UW photographer which is what I plan to do during retirement.
In short the plan at the moment is to go to Virginia Beach for a couple weeks after Nigeria in June, then go set up camp somewhere tropical in the western hemisphere, probably in the Caribbean until we are ready to make the move to NZ. Like any good plan this is highly flexible and likely to change. Maxine, Lilly and myself hope to see you all and miss you all very much, we hope to see you when we are in the States and wish you all the best!