England in the Caribbean – 15th February 2019

So, back to Barbados. Early morning flights are an occupational hazard of touring some parts of the world but are most common in India and the Caribbean where seats are in great demand (the former) and  limited (the latter). The snag lies at the other end when a 30-minute flight from St.Lucia results in a four and a half hour wait for a hotel room.

No complaints – at all. The hotel staff are well-briefed in the scenario and provided a room to change into something more appropriate. Like swimwear and a complimentary towel. I offered a blank face when offered the traditional, equally complimentary ‘rum punch’ at 9:00am after a 5:45am start. “It’s a straightforward question,” said Rifanne at reception. Still blank. “You can defer it until later, if you like?”

“Yes, thank you, good idea.

 

Last month we stayed out of town at Holder’s Hill and never had cause or reason to venture into Bridgetown, apart from Test match visits to the Kensington Oval. This time we are barely two kilometres from the capital and, given the delay, it was the perfect opportunity to revisit by foot. We can even see the Kensington Oval from the hotel, and the cruise-liner in the dock.

It was 19 years ago that I first came here and I wondered if things had changed. There are exactly the same. I wrote a Tour Diary back then pondering why there were so many derelict buildings in such prime, pristine positions on the very edge of the beach.  The answer I received was that owners were waiting for ‘top dollar’ before selling. It seems they still are.

The Empire Cinema remains as it was back then, still derelict, as do many other buildings with stunning views and access to the beach. The economy is still vibrant but there is insufficient capital amongst local residents to refurbish these properties, and the overseas millionaire investors prefer to start afresh. It is far easier, and cheaper, to build afresh than renovate. There is no shortage of opportunity for the entrepreneur, however.

As a long day drew to a close, it seemed peculiar that a surfing lesson was taking place on the flattest and calmest piece of ocean in the world – albeit with one of the greatest sunsets. On this side of the island there is no surf at all. Turns out it was a yoga session, on surf-boards, with an instructor going full-on. Yoga on a surfboard…balance, core, strength. The view. Different, but good.

 

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