Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye – Three Winter Sun Destinations – Kauai, Hawaii, Malta and Martinique

For any of us in the colder and wetter climates, a respite somewhere sunny is top of of most of our wish lists. Today three wonderful destinations where you will enjoy warm weather and an even warmer welcome from your hosts. I have selected islands where you can relax and even if it is for just two weeks, boost your tan and well-being before the real winter kicks in.

However, for those of you who crave the excitement and adventure of snow covered mountains and ski slopes, in my next post in two weeks, I will be sharing three top locations accessible to those in North America and Europe.

The first destination is Hawaii and the island of Kauai.

Here is an amazing video- Na Pali coast, Kauai, Hawaii courtesy of Amazing Planet

About the Island courtesy of The official island website

Kauai is Hawaii’s fourth largest island and is sometimes called the “Garden Island,” which is an entirely accurate description. The oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain is draped in emerald valleys, sharp mountain spires and jagged cliffs aged by time and the elements. Centuries of growth have formed tropical rainforests, forking rivers and cascading waterfalls! Some parts of Kauai are only accessible by sea or air, revealing views beyond your imagination. More than just dramatic beauty, the island is home to a variety of outdoor activities. You can kayak the Wailua River, snorkel on Poipu Beach, hike the trails of Kokee State Park, or go ziplining above Kauai’s lush valleys. But, it is the island’s laid-back atmosphere and rich culture found in its small towns that make it truly timeless. Explore the regions of Kauai and make your escape to discover the undeniable allure of the island.

Temperatures in November/December/January are between 25 C and 27 C.. with an average of 23C… so very pleasant.

Flight times

From UK: 15 hours, longer if changing planes in US.
From Toronto: 10 hours
From Vancouver: 6 hours
From New York: 10.5 hours
From Los Angeles – 5.5 hours

Exchange rate as of December 1st – Sterling £1 would give you $1.29

Where to stay: Hawaii Guide Kauai Accommodation
Things to do: Tours and activities

Now a European destination, which by all accounts is becoming very popular with North Americans and Canadians via Travel Daily News

The Island of Malta – Mediterranean

The Hon. Konrad Mizzi, Minister of Tourism for Malta, noted that the US was one of the fastest growing tourism markets for Malta, recording a dramatic increase of 31.9% from 2017 to 2018, with a total of 47,170 Americans visitors. The increase from Canada in 2018 was 6.6% (15,015 Canadians) bringing the total arrivals in 2018 from North America (US & Canada) to a record breaking 62,185. This sunny archipelago in the Mediterranean recorded an overall 2.6 million visitors (+14.3% between 2017 and 2018), bringing a record number of tourists to Malta from around the World.

About Malta courtesy of Visit Malta

Megaliths, medieval dungeons and Calypso’s Cave – The Maltese Islands are positively mythic. The narrow meandering streets of their towns and villages lead to the main square, which is invariably dominated by the huge baroque church. As the countryside is dotted with medieval towers, wayside chapels and the oldest known human structures in the world, the Islands have rightly been described as an open-air museum.

The Maltese archipelago lies virtually at the centre of the Mediterranean, 93 km south of Sicily and 288 km north of Africa. The archipelago consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino with a total population of over 400,000 inhabitants occupying an area of 316 square kilometers.

Malta is the largest island and the cultural, commercial and administrative centre. Gozo is the second largest island and is more rural, characterised by fishing, tourism, crafts and agriculture. Comino, the smallest of the trio, has one hotel and is largely uninhabited.

With superbly sunny weather, attractive beaches, a thriving nightlife and 7,000 years of intriguing history, there is a great deal to see and do.

Temperatures in November/December are between 18C and 22C.. with January cooler at 16C but still with five hours of sunshine a day.

Here is a video among many courtesy of Visit Malta

Flight times

From UK:  3 hours
From Toronto: 10 hours
From US East Coast:  9.5 hours
From US West Coast:  14 hours.

Exchange rate as of December 1st.

$1 will get you 90cents
£1.00 will get you E1.17.

Official site: Visit Malta
Where to Stay: Accommodation Malta Trip Advisor
What to do: activities

And for the final winter sun destination, I have chosen one of my favorite destinations.. the Caribbean and the island of Martinique.

About Martinique courtesy of

First sighted by Columbus on his initial expedition in 1493, Martinique played host to its first European “tourists” in 1502 when Columbus landed there during his fourth voyage. Dubbed Martinique by Columbus, the island was inhabited by Kalinago Indians who had driven away the Arawaks (both tribes had come to the island from South America). Martinique was claimed by France in 1635 and officially annexed in 1674. France and Britain fought over the island until 1815, when France prevailed. Slavery was abolished in 1848. In 1946, Martinique became a Department of France and in 1974 a Region of France, its current status.

Modern day Martinique is truly “a little bit of France in the Caribbean.” It exudes an alluring and distinctly French sensibility in the excellence of its cuisine and rhums, the chic sophistication of its fine resorts and hotels, its fashion and art scene, and more. Yet Martinique has a cachet all its own; an endearing West Indian warmth in its personality, a special spice in its music and dance, its local dishes, cultural heritage, and way of life. It is an island with style and so much more. A special place, to be sure, with so much to offer – Martinique c’est magnifique!

Temperatures in November/December/January are very warm between 29C to 31C – the island does have quite a bit of rain mainly through to November with the driest time between December and April.

Here is a short film courtesy of travelguruTV

Flight Times

From UK: 9 hours
From Toronto: 5 hours
From New York: 4.5 hours
From Los Angeles: 7.5 hours

As an overseas region of France the currency is the Euro

Exchange rate as of December 1st.

$1 will get you 90cents
£1.00 will get you E1.17.

Where to stay: Martinique Hotels Trip Advisor
What to do: Activities Martinique Trip Advisor

There are some wonderful locations within a few hours flight time, to give you some much needed winter sun… and don’t be surprised to see Sal and I on the beach, under an umbrella, sipping a cocktail.

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Books by D.G. Kaye

A recent review for Twenty Years After “I Do”

The author married a man who is twenty years her senior. At the time of their marriage, she did reflect on what could or would happen in the future as the relentless march of time took its toll, but she loved Gordon so much that she decided to grab the happiness and job life was offering her.

I found this book particularly interesting because my mother is ten years older than my father. My mother has always been “young” for her age and my father a bit “older” for his. They are now 80 and 70, respectively, and it has been interesting to watch the changes to their relationship and lifestyle. Ten years is half of twenty years, so such a big age gap does seem rather overwhelming to me and I was curious as to how the couple managed their life together now that they were both older. It turns out that they manage very well indeed, and I found this memoir uplifting and even inspiring.

The author addresses all sorts of aspects of married life, many of which are relevant in any marriage, regardless of the age of the spouses. I learned a lot from her thoughts and ideas, in particular, the idea of counting to ten before speaking in rage and never saying anything deliberately spiteful or hurtful. I have heard this message before, but never understood it quite like this. I am going to take this lesson learned forward in my life especially in my relationship with my one son, who is so like me we often fight like cat and dog.

The information covered in this book about living with a senior and travelling with a senior is useful to anyone who spends time and travels with parents so it is all very relevant and useful. I is also interesting to note how the author manages medications and illness with her senior husband.

This is a great book with numerous important messages that can be enjoyed and appreciated by people of all age groups looking to gain the best from life and relationships.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

More reviews and follow Debby: Goodreads

Connect to Debby Gies

About me:
Twitter: (yes there’s a story)

My thanks to Debby for all her great posts in the Travel Column series and please drop in for some Snow destinations in two weeks.

Grazzi hafna from Sally aged seven to the old Prickly Pear farmer and his donkey

In my first blog on this theme I mentioned that when looking back at my life, I was grateful for the support and love from family and friends, but that those who taught me a valuable lesson or who inspired me were often ordinary people, just doing their jobs.

Apart from Mrs Miller who taught me to read and write, (which are skills that I am still perfecting today!) there are some other people that I remember from my childhood who made an impression on me.

One such person was an old prickly pear farmer in Malta who tended his fields in the confines of my home there.

My father was office in charge of RNWT Rinella which was close to the Royal Naval Hospital of Bighi on the Island, close to the entrance to Valleta Harbour. We arrived here in 1959 and lived in naval quarters on a hill above the station.  I remember that there were lots of steps down to the station and the surroundings which included a tennis court (where the summer ball was held) a stream that ran through the area and various fields where crops were grown in the dry and stony earth.  These fields were bordered with a weed – prickly pear – a sharp hedge that would deter any animal from straying into the crops.

I was 6 years old going on 7 when we arrived and I went from the small Garrison school in Portsmouth, with barely 100 pupils to the massive Royal Naval School Verdala, with around 1000 pupils.  I remember feeling totally lost and even the school bus ride was quite terrifying.

Anyway, I am afraid that apart from ballet lessons with a French Madame and learning to do the splits (still a viable feat but requires assistance to get back up) I rather forget most of the two years that I attended the school.

I do however; remember the days I played truant.  It started very innocently on a Saturday morning when my parents, busy with my much younger brother would let me off the leash to explore the safe confines of the station. There was always someone on duty and I soon got to know some of the service men and women that I met on my jaunts. Provided I kept away from the working areas I was mainly unnoticed.

We had not been there long when I noticed that every Saturday morning a farmer and his cart would arrive at the fields in the general vicinity.  It was actually the donkey that attracted me in the first place as I was mad about horses.  Poor little thing barely looked strong enough to carry a bale of hay, but would valiantly pull the small cart and its driver over the rough ground around the field and then stand patiently all day with a rusty bucket of water and a nose bag of feed.  I would sit on a pile of rocks and just watch the slow, painstaking activities of the old man as he cleared rocks and other debris from the dry, dusty earth.


This went on for a few weeks with the farmer apparently showing no awareness of this silent watcher for a couple of hours every Saturday.  Until one week, he turned his weather – beaten face towards me and across the small field beckoned me to come over.

These were the days when children were not as restricted in their exchanges with adults as they are today. Of course we were told not to accept sweets from strangers and not to get into a car that we did not know the driver of, but nobody had mentioned donkey carts.  I am afraid I was a bit of a devil as my mother used to say, and had at the age of 7 decided that if this farmer was allowed into the area then he must be classified as acceptable.

I went over and stood hesitantly by the side of the cart.  By this time it was getting on for mid-morning and the sun was hot.  The old man bent down and came back up with a battered tin cup in his hand.   He held it out to me and after inspecting the contents I took a little sip.  It was the sweetest water I had ever tasted.  Even the slight metallic taste from the tin cup did not detract from that cool first sip.  I handed the cup back and he smiled – showing just a couple of brown stained teeth in his upper gums.

He held out one of his hands and I noticed that they were almost black with earth and heavily veined.  He gestured and I put my small hand in his.  He led me over to the donkey, standing patiently with one back hoof tipped as he rested.  As we approached the flies buzzed around the animal’s eyes and nostrils and he shook his head and turned to us.

The farmer gently took my hand and poured some of the water from the cup into it and held it under the donkey’s nose – the warm, rough lips clamped onto my little hand and sucked the moisture right out of it.  It was the most amazing sensation I had ever felt.

The old man took my hand away and then helped me hold up a bucket of water under the donkey’s nose and let him drink his fill.  I had seen the tin cup dipping into the same bucket and it seemed the most natural thing in the world to share this precious resource between ourselves.

I remember running home as it was getting towards lunchtime – I did not tell anyone about my adventure as far as I remember.  However, it did lead to a relationship that lasted a long time in the relatively short life of a child.

Every Saturday morning I would catch a ride on the back of the cart as soon as it arrived in my territory and I would spend the morning helping!  I would actually spend most of the morning, patting the dusty coat of the donkey and half-heartedly picking up small stones that littered the field.  We barely spoke as he was not happy talking English and we communicated with hand signals.  We spent silent hours, happily together, sharing coarse white, homemade bread and cheese for lunch, washed down with sweet water and with a dessert of prickly pear. Opening these feral fruits is an art and whilst I admired his strategy with a machete shaped knife I was not allowed to practice myself!  He did however show me how to gently peel back the skin to reveal the luscious, pip filled centre.

I did not get on at school – it was too big and I felt overwhelmed.  Therefore occasionally I would take a sickie!  I would arrive down by the guard post where I was supposed to catch the bus, leave my bag behind the building and when the farmer arrived hop on the cart and spend the whole morning until 2.00ish when the bus would reappear in the road at the normal drop off time.  I would then race back and pick up my bag, dust myself off and return home as normal.

Unfortunately, this all came to a rather abrupt halt.  One tea-time my mother casually told me that she and my father had been to a parent teacher meeting and that concerns had been raised about the state of my continued ill health.  Busted!

I was escorted to and from the bus from that day forth.  I did however manage to visit on a Saturday morning and learned that if I took an apple or a carrot, or even a piece of cake surreptitiously removed from the pantry, all three of us enjoyed our lunch even more!

In retrospect, the life lessons passed on by the old man were profound.  I learned that conversation is not necessary to communicate. That dirty hands can be gentle and represent a lifetime of hard and honest work.  That donkeys have very soft mouths, that water can be sweet and the complex art of opening and eating the very prickly pears.  And how to spit out the pips as far as possible.

Funny that my time at the Royal Naval School, Verdala has not stayed in my memory – teachers, pupils, lessons, but I do remember as if yesterday an old man, a donkey and prickly pears.

Next time – Linda Mooi – a friend in Cape Town.

Memoir of a Navy Man by Eric Coleman – Post War – Malta, Hong Kong, Typhoons, Japan, Korean War

After a very brief respite after the war ended my father was back in the fray again in the Far East.  Not before a disruptive move back and forth to Malta.  I will hand you over to Eric to carry on with his story.

Eric 1947HMS Collingwood

The Electrical Branch of the Royal Navy was formed in 1946 and Collingwood was selected as the Headquarters, and School, for the New Branch. I was very lucky to be in Collingwood at this time of change and after about six months in an office it was decided to form a Radio section and there was a requirement for Radio Electrical Artificers. The first conversion class (REA 1) was made up of myself and one other CEA., three senior EA’s and eighteen newly qualified artificer apprentices. It was a long course, almost two years, spent mostly in Collingwood with a short spell in HMS Mercury. This period was the first time since we married in 1940 that Mollie and I were able to enjoy a normal married life. Shortly after the course finished, I decided to take the examination for promotion to Warrant Radio Electrical Officer, which I duly passed, and was promoted on 4th December 1948.

I remained in Collingwood for courses etc. and received my first appointment to join HMS Triumph on 1st March 1949.

HMS Triumph

Triumph was completing a commission in the Mediterranean, based in Malta, and I travelled out to join her in a passenger ship that sailed from Liverpool. Shortly after joining, we sailed for the UK to re-commission. We spent only a few days in Sheerness during which time Mollie came to Chatham for a short time. Back to Malta with lots of exercising and training and with the prospect of a two-year commission in the Med. Mollie and I decided to move the family to Malta, which went very well. After settling in, we were told that the ship was to leave for the Far East within the next few weeks. This was a very sad time but Mollie faced it in true naval wife style and when we sailed the family’s return passage had not been arranged. They eventually got home in a small cargo ship that took twelve passengers. I think they enjoyed it. Meanwhile we were heading east, with stops at Aden, Colombo, Singapore and finally we reached our destination, Hong Kong.

We had only been in harbour a few days when a typhoon was reported in the area and in true naval fashion we sailed, to ride it out to sea. It was the worst experience I was ever to meet at sea. The ship did everything except sink and how it avoided that I don’t know. We survived and returned to harbour and spent some days clearing up the damage. There followed an extensive period of training and exercising with RN and US Navy ships and early in 1950 we sailed to Japan for a long visit.

We went into the inland sea and tied up in Kure, the main Japanese Naval Base. The Americans and Australians were very much in occupation and conditions were such that fraternizing with the Japanese was still frowned upon. Japan is a lovely country and being there in the spring it was at its best. The climate has both extremes, very cold in the winter and hot in the summer. We continued with training, with visits to other ports. We saw Hiroshima and at that time most of it was still devastated and it was a horrible example of nuclear war.

The time came for us to return to Hong Kong, in June 1950. As we left the inland sea we received instructions to return to Kure to take on stores etc. and then we sailed to the US Base in the Philippines where we joined up with the US Boxer, an American Carrier. Then, after all night meetings, we sailed to join in the Korean War.

The Korean War.

Boxer went to the east coast of Korea and we to the west coast, where our aircraft were quickly in action. We operated from Sasebo, a port in Japan and we were continually providing air support until October 1950 when we ran out of aircraft, mainly Seafires, our fighter aircraft ‑ our flight deck was not strong enough to operate the heavier Sea Furies.

We sailed for the UK, arriving in early November 1950. After leave, I was appointed to HMS Vengeance where I served until 10th September 1951 and then to yet another sea job, HMS Solebay, the Leader of the 5th Destroyer Squadron. I was promised only a short time in this job in view of my long time at sea ,and away from home, and, true to their word, I was appointed to HMS Mercury, the Communications School at Leydene House, on 3rd March 1952. ( I was born in February 1953 so I am grateful that my father got a shore job too!)

I hope you have enjoyed this part of my father’s memoirs – he rarely talked about his time in both wars and I think you have to read between the lines at times to understand that despite his brevity, he saw and experienced things that he still could not share. He lost his best friend, Vic Newell, which must have been a huge blow and he left ships that would later be sunk with great loss of life. That has to leave its mark.

I am so glad that we managed to get him to write his potted history of his life – we assume that our grandparents and parents are going to be with us for ever and put off asking them to detail their own and their parent’s history.  I think it is important that these stories are passed on before they are lost forever.

Lt. Commander Herbert Eric Coleman – January 12th, 1916 – April 5th 1996


I hope that you have enjoyed these stories from my father’s memoirs and you can find the previous posts in the directory.

Thank you for dropping by.. Sally