Sun 28 November 1999 @ 11:00
Yesterday we went to look at a flat which was advertised on one of the office mailing lists. We weren't expecting that much before we got there really, but the place is fantastic! It’s the entire basement of a Victorian house owned by a couple of architects, who live upstairs. Its quite tastefully decorated and furnished too; the living room is warm, spacious and comfortable, the bedroom is spacious and well lit in the evenings, the kitchen is well appointed :-) Its also £30 a month cheaper than we pay at the moment, for something with less than a third of the floor-space. Sometime later in the week we're going to meet the owners, and we can sort out stuff then (like leasing it NOW please!).
Mon 15 November 1999 @ 11:00
Bored... Bored... Bored... Fucking bored. Check in time for Virgin flights is three hours before departure. Barbados airport is a boring place with nothing to do, too many people and long queues for anything you might want like food or drink. Oh, and you can't smoke here, but you can't get out to smoke anywhere else either. Sucks. The flight was exactly as expected, saw the Thomas Crown Affair and something else I can't remember. Got into Gatwick at 7, the temperature here is 30°C lower than it was in Barbados yesterday (its now Tuesday). Got home and slept for a couple of hours, we can deal with the jet-lag later.
Sun 14 November 1999 @ 11:00
Breakfast... Swim... Sun... Swim... Cave. We didn't make it to the cave though, because I sprained my ankle badly while running for the bus :-( It's bad enough that we ended up coming back to the hotel for the day. That was ok though, I toyed around with my ideas for a book, and swam a bit, and got some more sun, and ate some food, and drank some rum, and generally just vegged :-)
Sat 13 November 1999 @ 11:00
Fantastic weather - there are two small clouds in the visible sky : one about the size of my thumb at arm's length, the other even smaller, and both are miles away. I've yeen thinking a bit lately about writing. Putting my diary online has been pretty fun, though because of its nature and intended audience it is very literal and missing a lot of detail. Perhaps a novelisation or serialisation of some sort would allow me greater freedom to express my thoughts & experiences. Stay tuned ;-)...(later)...Ahaaah :-))) I finally persuaded Anna that she wanted to go snorkeling in the sea with me - and she loved it :-)) So much so that I had to drag her out at the end ....(later)...We were going to go to Harrisons Cave, which is in the middle of the island, but the busses weren't running their usual service, so we missed our window of opportunity to go. We'll have to do it tomorrow instead. Apparently it's quite cool there - Barbados is an island made out of coral (unlike the rest of the Carribbean which is volcanic), so the caves here are quite spectacular :-)
Fri 12 November 1999 @ 11:00
The usual morning routine is getting to be ; up at 8ish, breakfast and go to the pool until about 12, when the sun is hottest. Then we go out for the afternoon to do something touristy, back to the hotel to shower & change, and out to eat somewhere. Today was no different - we went shopping in Bridgetown where I bouglt Anna a saphire and diamond necklace (and she complains that I don't buy her presents!) and to the Mount Gay rum factory to do the tour and tasting session. Mother... Eat your heart out ;-) The tour isn't of tle distillery itself, but is in the ageing & bottling facility. They do a multi-media demonstration of the process and history, and then take you around the plant. Mount Gay is actually the very original of the drinks that are called Rum. It was invented in the early 1700's here on Barbados and is a by-product of the sugar industry. The sugar production process renders raw cane into two products - sugar, and molasses. The molasses, when fermented and distilled, becomes white rum. Dark rum is aged in cherry and almond wood barrels for up to 12 years, anh gets its colour from the inside of the barrels being charred. Good tour, we saw some barrels which were 27 years old and were being kept until 2003, for the 300th anniversary of Mount Gay :-) Later we went to a local village called Oistins, where they have a big fish market. During the evenings on Friday & Saturday, there is a big party there. There are stalls set up to sell food and drink, and some guys had brought along a concert PA system and were blasting out Reggae all night :-) We ate chicken & chips (Anna) and marlin & chips (me) and drank local beers... and it was fantastic :-) Did I mention that Guinness is big here? Every rum shop (which is like the local shop with a small pub attached) sells it and in quite large quantities apparently. Guess the Barbadians have a great sense of taste ;-)
Thu 11 November 1999 @ 11:00
Woke up early, had breakfast and went snorkeling again. I saw some big fish today, though I dont know what they were. They were about 45cm long, silver, and with black tail fins. They looked like bigger versions of the Gourami you can get for tropical aquaria. I also saw a baracuda. Encountering a one meter long baracuda when you're in water over your head is terrifying. Beautiful certainly, but this wasn't my environment. It was the fish's. Scary but fun.
Then we took a couple of busses to the Barbados Wildlife Preserve... Did I mention about the bussss before? They arent busses as we know them in Europe, but small vans like the old Ford Transit, which have seats in them. There are generally 9-12 seats in a bus, but they fit up to 16-18 people in them - and drive like lunatics :-) The fare is BD$1.50 for each trip, no matter how far you go, and they run about every 2 minutes. Anyway, the Wildlife Preserve was fairly cool, though there weren't very many animals. Polio vaccine is made from antibodies obtained from the Barbados Green monkey, and this park supplies about 70% of the worlds supply of vaccine. Noble idea, but it was offset by the fact that they also sell monkeys for research :-( Nice place though, good fun. It took us about 2 hours to get home, and then we went for dinner in a little restaurant right on the sea, which sold local cuisine. Anna had chicken and capers in a white wine sauce, with macaroni pie, and I had baracuda (purely for revenge for having the shit scared out of me earlier). The taste of baracuda is not at all what I would have expected - its a very bland white meat which doesnt have much taste or texture. It is kind of like the fish in fish-fingers.
Wed 10 November 1999 @ 11:00
Anna and I have been living together for one year today :-) We did the getting up at eight thing again this morning. At that hour the sun is quite pleasant & the water warm. After breakfast we went swimming for a while. I went up the coast a little to the canoe shop to see if they could rent me some snorkeling gear, but they had none left. So I went back to the hotel and discovered that Margaret had some which she lent me. I did the obvious thing - went into the lagoon with them. Wow!!! I was completely unprepared for what I saw when I got there... over by the lagoon wall there's a small reef which is teeming with fish :-) The colours, shapes and sizes are so varied and brilliant, it's like being inside a tropical aquarium :-))) After that we went to BridgeTown for lunch and to do some shoppinq - the prices here are very cheap - Levi 501's for £30 and Ralph Lauren shirts for £35. When we came back I tried to take Anna snorkeling, but the tide was in and the water too choppy for her. We had gotten out as far as the lagoon wall and she got washed on a rock, which scared her. We stopped then. Dinner was in the hotel - nice food :-)
Tue 9 November 1999 @ 11:00
8am. Thats what time we got up this morning. We were both wide awake and ready-to-go at 8:15, which I blame on the jet-lag. So, at that ungodly hour of the morning we went and had a breakfast of muffins, coconuts and papayas, and went for a swim :-) There is a little lagoon in front of the hotel which protects against the high waves. The water temperature is very very pleasant... so I spent quite a bit of time there. Anna prefers the swimming pool to the sea, though my eyes get a little sore from the chemicals. We took a stroll westwards and found a little café, and a beach where people were para-boarding - like sailbording, but, instead of using a sail, you use a large kite :-) Two guys met us on the beach and welcommed us to Barbados, and promised us the 'best carribbean grass you could get' if we wanted it. We didn't take any, but maybe later on in the week ...?...(later)...We went to dinner in a restaurant in a place called St. Laurence Gap. We took a local bus there, which was completely mad. The journey costs BD$1.50 no matter where you go, and the drivers feet know only two positions - hard on the accelerator or hard on the brakes :-) Anyway, for dinner I had some fresh baked prawns & peppers on skewer with rice. Anna had blackened red snapper with a spicy marinade and rice. The food was cheap, well cooked, and well served and we liked it a lot :-) I'm not a huge lover of prawns, but these were really fantastic :-) Went back to the hotel after that for a last Rum & Coke (yes Mother, it IS Mount Gay, and we're going to the distillery later in the week!!!) and hit the sack.
Mon 8 November 1999 @ 11:00
08:16 - Its a dull, grey morning and we're on the Gatwick Express out of London Victoria. Anna is tired and a little tetchy, and I'd kill for a smoke. To make matters just annoying enough there are two kids across the aisle who are just... annoying. MUST HAVE COFFEE!!! ...(later)...Blue. There is only ocean for a thousand miles in every direction. I'm bored, and my ass hurts from these seats. I've seen all the movies and much as I hate to admit it - I'm just not in the mood to see the South Park movie now :-( There's another 3 hours of flight left and things are definitely amiss... I'm just about to watch Big Daddy for fuck sake!!! No...no... Its ok - I can watch Primal Fear with Richard Gere instead :-)...(later)...Landed in Grantley Adams International Airport and was met with a 45 minute queue to get through immigration. Apparently the immigration desks weren't prepared for a 757 and two Jumbos landing within 10 minutes of each other... so there was a HUGE queue. Weather is overcast and a mild 28 degrees C. The forecast for tomorrow and the rest of the week is for the haze to lift and the temp to increase. It's18:20 now and we're sitting outsite this cool little cafe, having a relaxing drink (The Guinness isn't draught though) and waiting for some seafood stew & grilled vegetable dishes to be served :-) We just found out that the ferry to St. Lucia might not be until Friday next, and we don't even know where we're staying yet ;-) ...(later)...Yessss!!! I found this web page on Barbados.org which was basically an advertisement for a hotel called "Peach & Quiet", which has probably scared a lot of people away with its name but is a realy lovely little hotel. We went there and checked in straight away because it was dark. The hotel looked even better than it was on the web site - it is undergoing renovations, but not majorly so. Its a small hotel - about 20 rooms - and it looks quite strange. More ahout that tomorrow.
Sun 7 November 1999 @ 11:00
Been busy this last week, so there wasn't much time to type here. Anna's parents were over from Germany for the week so we went out most nights. We took them to Wagamama for ramen, and Itsu for Sushi. Itsu is a Sushi bar which has the food going around a central cooking area on a conveyor belt. They make fairly good sushi, though it can work out a litle expensive for what you get. Nice though :-) We also spant a day in Kew Gardens. It was fairly cold there, but still great - the trees were all loosing leaves and had the most wonderful colours on them. Reds, browns and yellows were sprinkled all over the ground like a carpet. Have to split now, Sleepers is on….(later)…Great movie :-) Anyway, in about 6 hours we leave to go to Barbados and St. Lucia. There won't obviously be updates here until we get back, but at that stage I'll have pictures too :-) Tired now, and I have to tidy away some stuff before I go to bed. Anna's already there and looks cute and asleep Later :-)