Home again, home again.....

I had fully intended on getting a bit of a Palm Cove wrap up on here earlier, but a combination of my blog playing silly buggers last night (possibly from lack of attention...) and three workshops to prepare for by the weekend kind of put paid to that idea!  But I have my pictures all loaded up and ready to go, so allow me to now gush openly about the AMAZING 5 days I spent on the Stampin' Up! incentive trip last week..... We stayed at the Angsana Resort and Spa in a fabulous self-contained third floor apartment overlooking the pool.  I only thought to take this picture from our balcony on the last evening, so the colours aren't great, but I'm sure you get the idea :)

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Here I am at the door of our room, excitedly pointing out the confirmation that we really were on the trip!  Each of our rooms had a Palm Cove Incentive Trip Achiever sign on the door, which evidently assisted in directing the hotel staff as to which rooms they should bring gifts to EVERY DAY!  Yep, we were absolutely spoilt rotten!

Waiting on our kitchen bench as soon as we checked in were a shirt each for Tim and I designating our team for the lawn bowls tournament that was scheduled for after our welcome dinner.  We were on the 'Real Red' team.  Here I am simultaneously demonstrating the fourth ballet position and pretending to bowl....

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I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and after some dismal practise time, the very first thing we did was all line up at one end of the green - all 50 plus of us - and each bowl a ball, with the closest four to the target winning a prize.  By some stroke of ridiculous luck, Tim and I managed to be two of the four closest, and here we are with our prizes :)

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After we got back from bowling, there was a beautifully wrapped gift box on the kitchen counter, complete with a big bow of extra wide grosgrain ribbon and a tag.....

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Inside was a fabulous lightweight hoodie with the Stampin' Up! Palm Cove logo stitched on....  See?

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The next morning we headed off early to take the Kuranda Scenic Railway to the little village town of Kuranda.  The train was old fashioned and gorgeous and the scenery on the way up was spectacular!

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When we got to Kuranda, one of the first stops was for a Mango slushie - the best around according to the Jack Thompson-esque voice doing the commentary on the train!  The thing that caught my eye though was the signs advertising the slushie flavours.....

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....Stampin' Up! stamps!!

The way back down to Cairns was via the Skyrail, which took us high over the canopies of the trees on the mountains below

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When we got back to the resort in the afternoon, we had another surprise...  An amazing DVD with TWO HOURS worth of fabulous stampin' techniques recorded at various US conventions and regional seminars!  Stay tuned for these techniques, coming soon at a workshop near you....!

That evening was spent in the joyful consumption of Thai food, in the delightful company of Linda, Vanessa and Cheryl, plus their respective husbands.  One of the absolute highlights of the trip (although the entire time was pretty much a highlight in itself....) was that we got to hang out with such an AMAZING group of people.  Not only did all the demonstrators get along fabulously, but the husbands that came along were like old mates too!

Friday was stamping and swapping day, which I was SO excited about!  So excited that I totally forgot to take a picture of the gorgeous Pumpkin Pie coloured bag that we all got, containing a new stamp set and the inks we were to be using for our make and takes!  Thankfully Claire Daly was on the ball, and you can see a picture of JUST how excited I was in her blog post here.....

Something else I was excited to do that day was have a photo with the ever-gracious and smiling Shelli...

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Oh and Teresa (who still doesn't have a blog!)  LOVE this girl....!

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And I just HAD to include this following picture, which features my friend and #1 NZ demonstrator Sharlene, but although it's not the best picture of us, check out the cheeky chick behind me pinching my bum just as the photo was taken!!!

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I don't actually have any pictures of the swaps - mine or anybody elses....  Perhaps I should make that a separate post.  Swapping cards with the top 25 demonstrators in Australia and New Zealand does yield a healthy stash of WONDERUL cards as I'm sure you can imagine!!  Some of these girls are so good at what they do, and also so well known for it that they have got to a stage where first names are enough!  Regular blog-hoppers out there will know what I mean - and no doubt join in my delight - when I tell you that as a result of the card swap, I am in possession of an original and gorgeous "Marelle", a divine "Claire", an amazing "Makeesha", a lovely "Alisa", a beautiful "Yvonne"... and the list goes on!

Lunch on Friday was spent at an award winning restaurant with another array of different demos, before returning to our rooms to yet ANOTHER big and beautiful gift box!  This was especially surprising, as we had already received a bag full of stamps and inks at the make and take session that morning!

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And this is what was inside....!  A gorgeously soft and fluffy and MONOGRAMMED bathrobe!

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On Saturday afternoon, it was suggested that we convene by the pool in our bathrobes for a group shot, so this is it here, with our Australian manager Aaron getting in on the action...

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Prior to this photo being taken, we had spent the morning at Green Island - a beautiful little spot within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.  Unfortunately the island wasn't the only thing that was "green"....  A fairly decent swell combined with a 45 minute boat ride made for a tense journey although thankfully I managed to keep a hold of my breakfast.  A good many others were not so fortunate...  As a result of concentrating quite hard on retaining previously mentioned breakfast, I have a limited number of photos of the trip, but here is one of Tim donning his snorkelling gear just prior to landing on the island.

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I married him.... :)

Fortunately the boat ride back was a bit less traumatic than the one over and we arrived back at the resort in time for our group robe photo as mentioned earlier, and to receive yet another beautiful gift....

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This one was perfectly suited to the farewell dinner we were to experience later that night...  with a pride, actually two different prides, of lions!  The Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve hosts a "Dinner on the Edge" where you dine literally inches from lions partaking in their own dinner!  It was an amazing experience and one I will not easily forget!

I don't have any decent pictures of the lions themselves but check out this fella....!

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Prior to being seated for dinner, we were treated to an amazing display of fire flinging (that is really the best description I can come up with!!) by this bloke who appeared out of the bushes en route to the lion's den!  I was quite happy with this picture :)

As we were leaving quite early the following morning, after dinner it was time to say goodbye to our trip companions - friends both old and new.  We truly had the most amazing time with this group of people and spent the very vast majority of our time laughing with them all.

Some of the people that I haven't mentioned until now are the ones that went all out to ensure that we enjoyed every second of our time in Palm Cove....

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Janiel and Krista are from the Stampin' Up! home office in the US and spared no effort in ensuring that we were 100% looked after the entire time. THANKS GUYS!!

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Here I am with Aaron, our Australian Regional Manager and his sweet and lovely wife Karen.  Wonderful, warm and gorgeous people :)

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And here is a picture of the Perth contingent of the trip, along with Aaron and Karen.  Makeesha (second from left) and Ngaire (second from right) are effectively my "cousin" and "grandma" in the team structure, so it was great to be able to connect with them both on the trip :)

I was a bit teary to be leaving everybody and had such a WONDERFUL time, but the friendships made and renewed on the trip will be sustained via email until the next opportunity to see everybody again :)  Tim is already cracking the whip as he has planned the golf round with the other husbands for next year's trip!!

We arrived home on Sunday evening to freshly bathed and pyjama-ed angels and a sweet sign on the front porch - GORGEOUS!

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Nanny had even done all the washing, cleared my craft desk and sorted out our bathroom cupboard in our absence - what a woman!

So here ends my synopsis of this year's incentive trip to Palm Cove!  I'll do my best to get back here with a post featuring swaps in the next few days....