Here in Miami Beach, hurricane season has started - cultural season takes a break while snow birds return to cooler spots up north and the kids finish school for the summer. After disruption for well over a year, we may have had to stay home but the anxiety has taken its toll on many people. Florida is open, it is time to get back to the new normal life we dreamed about and have fun. I have a season finale planned for myself - sit back and take stock - work on my books which require processes for essential business like international translations and updated administrative processes. But, for a couple of weeks at least - if you need me I will be at the pool - reflecting, meditating and gathering strength and energy for the next stage of this always exciting creative journey. Someone please pass me my hat, sun glasses and suntan lotion. Bring on the summer....
Exciting news with the launch of a new British cruise line. Ambassador is scheduled to start sailing April 2022 from London Tilbury. A no fly cruise line it will herald a return to traditional classic cruising. No zip lines off the back of the ship - instead great itineraries, an incredible authentic cruise experience for travellers who appreciate an elegant ship with uncrowded community spaces; staff who offer a genuine welcome and first class service with top quality entertainment; dining and adventurous shore experiences in ports only accessible to the more compact ship.
The name of the cruise line reflects the fact that Ambassadors are respected all over the world, interested in the people and culture of countries they visit and mindful of issues of sustainability. The new company is a phoenix risen from the previous CMV - casualties of the pandemic are everywhere - it is good to see a company rise again. Ready to set sail, Ambassador ship AMBIENCE.
Fun road trip to Key West. Always an exciting journey driving the almost 200 miles from Miami. Quick stop at the African Queen in Marathon, across the dazzling scenery of the seven mile bridge and onward to Key West. A bohemian, retrograde kind of town, famous for Ernest Hemingway lookalike competitions and artistic and creative performance street acts.
Sunset in Mallory Square is an event not to be missed with the added attractions of tiki hut bars, pleasure craft and cruisers passing by in the harbour and partying for all their worth.
Florida is open for business and it feels good to travel, be free and mix and mingle with other visitors. Without International tourists the celebration may be a little subdued but really no worse for that - everyone gets to participate in the event and take time to enjoy the entertainment.
Go, Key West.
One year ago I arrived back in the UK after the Grand World voyage I was on, was cancelled and we sailed back from Australia into a frightening unknown world of covid and a global pandemic.
It has been the most extraordinary and, dare I say it, unprecedented year for almost everyone, everywhere in the world. Now the vaccines are giving immunity and new hope to the bright day of a new normal.
Yesterday, I booked my first cruise since walking off the ship in April 2020, having to abandon half of a four month cruise that was supposed to circumnavigate the globe. Some cruising has restarted in Europe with nationality restrictions in place but the Center for Disease Control has still not lifted restrictions on sailing in North America and the Governor of Florida has threatened to sue the authority. Passengers are eager to get back to cruising - the cruise lines have made health and safety their very top priority. I've now booked my cabin for a Bahamas trip late summer - as well as the Mediterranean cruise I booked while still on the ship last year - and to show faith in the cruise lines - I plan to book another cruise- where to this time? Who knows - but I will not be short of inspiration once our magnificent ships of the sea can set sail. We are ready, open the gangways.
Premiere event of the New World Symphony at Miami Beach's Soundscape Park. A thrilling classical performance of selections from Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet. So good to be back at a live event - albeit the concert originally took place in 2019 - sitting socially distanced from real people with whom it was possible to share the experience. The music fired the imagination and swept away so many dark days. We are reminded - it's beginning to feel a lot like new normal!!
Miami Beach has become famous worldwide not only as a beach destination but for its Arts and Culture - the event was sponsored y Carnival corporation - even as they fight to rebuild their devastated travel business and await the day when they can get their ships back to sea.
The human spirit truly is indominatable. Culture civilises and defines a nation. Our souls are restored. We can begin to heal.
Back in Miami - its good to be home!
After Lockdown London - it is so refreshing to be out and about - visiting restaurants and bars - and enjoying live entertainment. Had a great night at Spanx the Hog - a sports bar - live entertainment. The Gold Coast Banjo Band provided a high energy feel good, foot stomping brand of pure unadulterated fun. Life goes on but you have to sign up for it!
Be there - or be square.
Walking by Old Father Thames, river traffic is not operating but visitors are still attracted to London's famous riverside walks. The capital is in its third Lockdown but the resident population and a handful of of tourists and visitors still flock to the landmarks they love in one of the most exciting cities in the world. The difference now in Lockdown is that instead of people huddling inside pubs and restaurants and looking out, only Takeaway is permitted. Sitting outside, it is easier than ever to interact with nature and take a few peaceful moments to breathe in fresh air.
Children play on small strips of sand unearthed by the receding tidal river and dogs race on the pebble beaches.
Cyclists, skateboarders, roller skaters, and the rolling wheels of pushchairs, provide a constantly changing vistas of free wheeling individuals. Fresh air, the flowing waters of the River Thames with a glorious backdrop of sights of London Town old and new, St. Paul's Cathedral alongside stately smoked glass skyscrapers.
The chatter and good natured laughter of friends and family is vibrant and cheerful, not dampened by the mechanical sounds of the engines of motor boats, launches, ferries and barges.
Collectively exhaling a unified sigh of relief, the atmosphere is peaceful and calm- and hopeful. Lockdown has delivered a new normal of unhurried, feel good gratitude - give thanks simply to be alive.
Today I p[assed by the Abbey Road zebra crossing in St.John's Wood and for the first time in 50 years there were no fans. Before Lockdown, day and night their would be people posing on the iconic zebra crossing and taking photos and selfies to share with family and friends all over the world. The iconic album cover from 1969 drew the crowds and any time day or night the small the zebra and forecourt of Abbey Road studios would be crowded with international visitors, students and and music lovers. They congregated to be with like-minded individuals and share their love of the Beatles music.
Paul McCartney actually lives nearby the still operational Abbey Road studios and he tells the story that on his way home from late night events - when the crowds of fans are fewer- but still there - he would lean out of the car and give them the thumbs up. He claims that on occasion he would stop the car and pose on the zebra crossing and chat with fans as they took selfies. Today London is in Lockdown - for the first in 50 years, the zebra crossing is deserted - I grabbed the opportunity to take my own photo on the hallowed spot - though I've lived in the area for decades. Sadly McCartney did not happen by, I'd have loved to share a duet - maybe 'All You Need is Love'. Or perhaps "Yesterday' - when all our troubles were so far away. I long for the day when I pass Abbey Road studios and the fans have returned - it may not be life changing but it will be a happy sign that we have entered a new normal and come to the end of A Long and Winding Road.
Ellen Frazer-Jameson is a journalist, author, actress. theater producer and drama coach. She co hosted the largest live late night radio show in Europe for the BBC and has appeared on national TV shows and taken leading roles on stage. She lives in Miami and London and loves to dance Argentine tango.