Getting out and about in St. Lucia

Wednesday 24th August 2022

Today we broke loose and ventured out on an island trip with a fabulous driver named ‘Presley’ – recommended by the Doc – a very lovely, witty man who took us to some interesting places in the south of the island and knew all there was to know. He kept us entertained. And the best thing ever … he was such a careful driver, particularly as the roads are a bit hairy – couldn’t believe how relaxed I felt.

Us and Presley – his other name is ‘Elvis’

We selected to be picked up at 8.00am rather than 9.00am, thinking of the heat. As it turned out it was a great decision, as at each spot we seemed to be leaving just as coach parties were arriving, having done all that we wanted to do. We’re so used to being alone now that crowds of tourists seemed so alien!

Our house is on the outskirts of a town called Choiseul so we first had a little look at the main town area, taking the opportunity to visit the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church in Choiseul

Right from the off, we had magnificent views of the Pitons – Gross Piton being right on our doorstep. Presley had climbed Gros Piton when he was younger and said he recommended it but it was tough. We’d love to have a go but it’s at least a four mile walk and we think it would be impossible for us in this heat – even though as our name suggests, we love a ramble. Petite Piton, although not quite as high, is even harder as it requires ropes. So this time round we’ll just admire them from a distance and appreciate their magnificence.

The Pitons

We headed on to the town of Soufriere, stopping on the way at the Sulphur Springs – the only drive through volcano in the Caribbean. The smell hits you long before you arrive and takes some getting used to. It supposedly clears your sinuses – I should say it does … and more. It last erupted in the 1700s and is thought to be dormant – though bubbling away like a good’un. We had such a sweet guide called Suzette who was so knowledgeable on volcanos and sang to us as we walked too. We relished her company as we toured around and she introduced us to the gardener, Junior … who gave a huge toothless grin when Steve called out his name. It felt so good to have other people in our lives!! But very soon a whole stream of tourists arrived – it felt novel at first as we haven’t seen any non-Lucian people since being in St. Lucia – but as more and more arrived we decided the quiet life was preferential.

The sulphur springs of the Soufriere volcano

Water here boils at about 110 degrees celsius

With our lovely and very clever guide Suzette

A couple of hundred metres downstream from the springs, the water temperature is still hot (about 45 degrees celsius) but cool enough for tourists to enjoy a mud bath. Well, whilst in Rome and all that …!! So, off with the clothes and into the excruciatingly HOT muddy water we went – questioning ourselves as to why. Then, we were encouraged to cake our faces and body with further mud supplied in buckets … said to heal sunburn, eczema, arthritis, sore joints and more. Despite not having any of these conditions we did as we were told and joined in with the throng of others experiencing this strangest of exercises. It was fun, and different, except the water was so hot that my heart was racing big time. Walking up the hill to the car in the heat afterwards I started to feel dizzy but luckily enough made it back in time to rehydrate and bask in the car’s air-conditioning.

Our next stop was the opposite extreme. Presley drove us to the Toraille Waterfall where we could shower off properly … in freezing water. Although painful in its force, we much preferred the water temperature here and again were lucky to beat the crowds. A beautiful peaceful spot to enjoy.

The Toraille Waterfall

Suitably refreshed and re-clothed, we drove on into the town of Soufriere, which sits on the West Coast of the island, overlooked by the Pitons. We took a little look around the town and it’s beautiful harbour before joining Presley for a traditional lunch.

Catamaran rides are very popular here in Soufriere

Think this sunbed might have seen better days!

Presley with his trusty minibus

Great sign

We had lunch in this brightly painted first floor restaurant, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Lunch consisted of tuna, saltfish, creole chicken, yam, plantain, avocado and salads, washed down with Piton beer. We loved it.

We were home by 2.00pm, exhausted after our day’s release! Managed to fit in some swimming and chilling before dinner.

And the rest of the week has been more relaxation, swimming, reading, writing, some chores plus regular Youtube exercise sessions. We took a hot walk down to our local beach but unfortunately it’s not that inviting – the river meets the sea and so is churned up and murky – decided to return to our beautiful pool instead. While we were there though, we did see an elderly, very slight Rastafarian man, inch his way down the hill from his hut, on his bottom, fully naked … casually diving in for a swim. We’ve since learned that his name is Rambo … wouldn’t have been the first nickname to spring to mind.

Our local beachnot so inviting

And the mowing commenced this week … and, despite some heavy duty tropical rainstorms, Steve managed to complete the exercise over three days, choosing early morning hours to avoid the strong sunshine. The lawn looks great … and he so enjoyed the ride.

Steve and his Red Snapper

Bye bye for now – we do miss you xx

Making ourselves at home in River Doree

We’ve been here a week today – 5 of those days we’ve been alone! And we are still marvelling at the splendour of it all – both inside and out. Views of the Caribbean Sea from the verandah, fresh fruit in abundance in the garden, luscious green plantation, tall palm trees, tequila plants, a perfect swimming pool literally steps away from our bed, a spacious indoors fabulously furnished, dream kitchen … and we can just pretend it’s all ours for 5 weeks!!

Tequila plant

Our resident chickens …. which we need to guard with our life as chicken is so expensive to buy here!!

A guest house in the grounds

And this is our outdoor shower – we hardly use the indoor one as it feels lovely to be open to the elements. I even showered in a downpour of rain yesterday. And we only need to use cold water (which is warm) …. it’s like wild camping!!!

So, we’ve barely left the house since the Doc left on Wednesday – and not hugely feeling the need to do so. For one, there’s plenty of chores to keep us busy … it’s a working holiday you know!! There’s the cats to look after – the gorgeous Tabby and Bebe, the large number of verandah plants to water, some swimming pool maintenance and keeping the very extensive verandah all around the house clear of webs, bug life, frog and bird poo … the latter being very time consuming. Steve has yet to do his first stint of lawn mowing.

Steve sweeping the verandah this morning, while Paul the gardener takes a water break

Tabby … who is not a tabby but a ginger …. who loves to eat ham but is extremely overweight!

Bebe who is the more timid one … and is avoiding me today since I gave her a flea jab this morning!

I know I shouldn’t complain but the bugs are the big downside. We can take the gekos, the moths, the grasshoppers, the beetles …. but it’s the ants and the mosquitos that can just drive you to distraction. The doc says there are no mosquitos but something is biting us good and proper … and all day long! Getting through gallons of repellant and after-bite – please send supplies!!! However, come the evening when we’re all tucked up inside, the itching goes away and it’s fine during the night – so, could be worse (Egypt springs to mind)!!

Tom – not sure you’d cope here – the moths seem to love it, maybe it’s the orange!

The gardener Paul comes here on Mondays and Thursdays – this involves us setting the alarm as we have to open the gates for him by 7.00am … well, I say ‘we’ … Steve does!! He’s a chilled sort of guy, fit for his age (70) but not in any rush!! He brought us some coconut water on Monday – very thirst quenching. Waiting for the mangoes to ripen.

And after the chores are done there’s plenty of time to relax. Steve has not been out running again .. (1) because it’s either too hot or too wet (between the soaring heat there are some huge downpours going on) and (2) because I feel I’d be a bit nervous here alone and just worried about being apart … safety in numbers. We have to be honest, we were quite anxious the first couple of nights here alone, it gets dark at 6.00pm and it just feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere. Beer and wine has helped to relax us come evening … and we’re getting more used to it now.

My main sport of the day is being chased around in the water by the pool cleaner ….no, not some hunky Lucian … a rather clever little robot who seems to make a beeline for me every time I enter the water … and I always shower!

The pool cleaner

I also try to do a daily aqua aerobics session (can’t get Steve to join in) … which always reminds me of our lovely friend Ebraam from the Badawai Hotel in Sharm El Sheik …. such fun days.

Plus plenty of time for reading, writing, watching Wycombe games – the days whizz by in a oh so non-frantic way. Every afternoon we glance up to see the daily BA flight arriving … and then it’s back to chilling.

The arrival of the daily BA flight

The only time we’ve ventured out this week is up the overgrown lane to a local store called Masseys – to top up on some essentials. It’s just over a mile each way so requires a 7.00am outing before the real heat sets in. At the top of the lane we walk along a stretch of what we would call country road but the cars seem to move at motorway speed … and there’s no pavement so we have to keep our eyes peeled. We’ve already witnessed one accident! But this small store seems to have most of what we need and some interesting products too. It really is expensive here though – more expensive than England. Another reason we’re quite content to make the most of our lovely accommodation is that taxis and rental cars cost a fortune. Today we met the lovely housekeeper – Betyann – who comes to clean once a week and she was telling us how St.Lucia is really struggling with this economic crisis and short supplies of goods. She tucked into some of our food before she left … and dropped lots of hints about other things she likes – chicken breast, cake, orange juice etc.

The lane to the outside world …

So many pretty coloured houses … en route to the shop

Once it’s dark, Steve locks up the house … and then we only venture outside to admire the amazing constellations. Haven’t yet tried swimming in the dark although the pool area is lit up – think we might get braver. The Doc suggested that we might like to skinny dip but there’s CCTV cameras everywhere so we’re feeling a bit shy!

Steve likes to cook so I write or simply relax with a G+T as all colonial ladies do! We love the jukebox and there’s so much space for dancing … but we miss our fellow dancers (you know who you are)!!! We’ve had a few chess battles, suffice to say I’ve come second every time. And then there’s the TV – it’s the fanciest thing with millions of channels and five remotes …. but although the Doc showed us, we haven’t got a flipping clue – desperately need a young person.

Jiving to the jukebox

On Wednesday we’ve booked a trip out with a driver called ‘Presley’ to take us on a tour of the island and visit some hot spots – looking forward to that. And next Sunday we’re meeting Betyann at the local church for a sing song plus she’s recommended the local beach where she goes to cook her lunch most days. So, we’re dipping our toes in the water so to speak.

But at the moment, there’s no place like home … even though it’s just borrowed.

Landed in Paradise

Monday 15th August 2022

Today we arrived on the island of St. Lucia after a smooth flight from Gatwick. Just a couple of mishaps since leaving home – (1) I left my travelling clothes and sunhat on the back seat of Tom’s car when he dropped us at the hotel on Sunday night . He is officially the best son in the world as he insisted on turning around and bringing them to me despite it adding 2 hours to his journey! Love you Tom and (2) I left my phone charger in the hotel room! Could have been worse I guess.

The house-owner, Jay … known locally as the Doc … met us at the airport and we had a jolly chatty ride back to his house – he really is a jolly and extremely chatty chap. Having left a parched UK, St. Lucia seemed so green and luscious with prettily coloured houses – we immediately fell in love with it. We are staying in the south of the island which is not a tourist area, so life here is interestingly simple and we’re living amongst local Lucian folk. We took all this in on the 20 minute journey to Doc’s house, culminating in a drive down a long overgrown path till we reached the gates … and there the splendour of his magnificent house and grounds. Jaw-dropping, even the photos we had seen had not done it justice.

We had a tour of the house, met the cats and met Jack, Jay’s friend visiting from the USA. Jack is a well-built Italian New Yorker (with a dodgy background!) but a sweet guy … and his meatballs and pasta were delicious. After lots of chat and explanations about the house-sitting requirements we hit the sack at a reasonable hour.

When Steve and I were finally alone we couldn’t help but laugh at the enormity of what we’ve taken on. The house is even more remote than we imagined, there’s a fair amount of chores and nothing simple in terms of reaching amenities. It’s hot, humid and the house has no air-conditioning! But besides all that, it is going to be our biggest adventure to date and we’re well up for it.

Tuesday 16th August 2022

Quite a fitful night between the heat and the new night noises that I’m sure we’ll become accustomed to (a selection of crickets, beetles, frogs and birds). But we woke up relatively fresh all the same. Steve set out at 6.45am to attempt a run – he managed a three mile hot, humid and hilly run – jury’s out on whether or not this will be repeated. I got up early and headed for the pool instead – right outside our bedroom we have the most gorgeous swimming pool with perfect temperature – this is where I’ll be mostly hanging out for the next 5 weeks.

After breakfast Jay drove us out for a local tour and shopping expedition. We are not going to have a car while we’re here so wanted to take the opportunity to stock up while we had the Doc and his car. So, first stop … the liquor store!! Numerous cases of beer and wine later we moved on to the supermarket – I always love this experience in a new country. Jay was on hand to give us tips about what and what not to buy … mostly imported food sadly and some very expensive. We decided to ‘invest’ in some fresh milk but thinking this will be a one off. Stocked up well on groceries though as it’s an hour’s drive away. Hoping to rely on local stores from now on. Stopped at our nearest (walkable) fruit stall on the way back and purchased all she had on offer which was bananas, tomatoes and cucumber … it’s going to be an interesting diet.

In the afternoon, Steve had his sit on lawnmower lesson and took to it like a pro. Jay then showed us around the ‘yard’ as he calls it – two acres of luscious garden and fruit trees. The gardener will apparently bring us ripe fruit twice a week – lemons, limes, mangoes, wax apples, coconut and we can help ourselves to thyme, rosemary and even paracetamol plant!

The Doc giving Steve a sit on lawn mower lesson

Steve telling gangster Jack all about it!!!

As it was Jay and Jack’s last night, they wanted to treat us to dinner out at a local Caribbean restaurant – ‘Mama Tilly’s’ in Laborie Village. What an experience, Mama Tilly was hilarious and the food tasty and plentiful – pork, chicken, tuna, salads, rice and potatoes, rounded off with homemade rum and raisin ice-cream. There’s no menu, it’s just what she happens to have that day. And plenty of beer and rum consumed.

‘Mama Tilly’s’ in Laborie

Wednesday 17th August 2022

Jay and Jack left this morning for the USA and we are now officially alone – yikes!! Daunting and exciting all mixed together. Sure we’ll get into a routine of chores, leisure and local exploration soon. We have two beautiful cats to look after – Tabby and Bebe plus the Doc’s estate.

Today we’ve fully unpacked and basically taken over the joint. A lot of relaxation, swimming, and reading this afternoon. I’m sat on the veranda blogging now, overlooking gorgeousness and feeling SO lucky to have this opportunity. Steve in the meantime is having a nap!!

Nap time for Steve

Big first night alone tonight, we’ll lock ourselves in tightly once it gets dark. We’re cooking chicken curry, tucking into some wine (it’s dead expensive here too so a treat) and later we’re going to have a play around with the jukebox. As many of you know … the Roses love to kitchen dance!!

Missing you all. Wish you were here xx