sashimi]I don't know if any of you find actually getting away the most stressful part of the trip, but I do!

Life has been almost too busy with births, deaths, and also farewells to some staff moving overseas and then welcoming new people, plus house purchasing. Our lovely Spaniard, May, from our showroom, now has little Pablo, who rolled over by himself the other day! Hattie who started as a student 7 years ago has moved to London with her fiancé Nick, and we certainly have had enough funeral practice in the last few months with the deaths of Johnnie from our showroom, Phil's father, and then Bettina just before I left, who 7 years ago started in our showroom, but most recently did in-store tastings for our retailers. Our very best wishes go to her and Johnnie's families.

I really had to remove our gorgeous daughter, Helen, from the country with me, as she was costing us far too much to have at home - casually pillaging our bank accounts for all and sundry following her studying sojourn in Belgium and brief return to obtain a visa which will allow her to work. At some stage.

Thank God Thomas is safely ensconced in Wellington in his 'flat of last resort' as he called it. I gather most landlords pale at the thought of 4 boys taking over their flats, so it took a while to find somewhere. Still it's nicely central, so I don't think suffering is a big theme. Finding a job to supplement his studies and our support might be though...

So here I am, heading to Barcelona to meet Helen who is flying a different route on my air points, sitting on an Austrian Airlines plane to Vienna - which was meant to be to a Swissair flight to Zurich - until I was texted of a change when I got off my Air New Zealand flight to Tokyo (some of the nicer airline food I have had was on that leg - thank you Peter Gordon), which was then changed again last night when I answered a call from 'unknown' whilst enjoying sashimi in the hotel I overnighted in.

supplement barThe hotel seemed a bit basic and soulless - with a needed bottle of lemongrass air freshener and signs in the plain but adequate room telling you that the windows would not open in case of insect infestation, accompanied by warnings the current renovations might mean noise overnight (which did not happen). This morning though, having finally realised the air conditioning was not actually on despite some noise and all I needed to do was just turn the knob, I went down to a most delightful large, tastefully decorated breakfast room surrounded by a garden of cherry trees in blossom, where I enjoyed a buffet mix of European and Japanese food and was amused by the large offering of natural health supplements, some of which were accompanied by what I thought were very cute explanations. No tips accepted, let alone sought, by the bellhops either, which was a nice change.

Helen and I are going to enjoy some serious mother/daughter time (that could be expensive!), having booked ourselves an apartment in El Raval for three weeks and a Spanish language course for two, from 9am till 1pm. Helen was not that keen on such an 'early' start as the Spanish friends she made in Belgium, who live in Barcelona, and only speak Catalan, tell her we should be learning that and apparently will be up until 4am, so should really be doing the afternoon session. Oh well, we will see. Somewhere in that time she is hopping off to a ball in Sweden and the foldout couch seems to be frequently booked by various old and new friends.

Phil then joins us and we head off on a recce and supplier trip which involves lunch at Noma thanks to Michael Meredith talking to his mate René...

No doubt you will be privy to a few updates.