Covid and rain stop play … for a bit!!

Sunday 25th – Thursday 29th September 2022

I guess it was absolutely inevitable that within 8 weeks of travelling there would be a few grim days – well they sort of landed on us this week. On Sunday I’d woken up with a sore throat and general grogginess (even put off going to the gym!) but by that night I had gone into full fever mode – shivering and freezing cold one minute, burning up the next. Steve and I hardly slept and unfortunately we had to be up at 4.15am to get the ferry to Martinique – not great timing!! But it had to be done so I just took the pills and managed the journey the very best I could, including a bumpy boat ride, long passport queues and an extremely loud French taxi driver. When we arrived at our hotel in Sainte-Luce we were 3 hours too early for check in (they were not for budging, but did allow us to leave our luggage) … and killing that time in the local village was the hardest bit ever, I was feeling progressively rotten.

All aboard – the ferry to Martinique

I took the opportunity to go to a pharmacy to buy some covid test kits although I think I’d pretty much guessed that this was what I had. I paid the money thinking I was going to be given a box to takeaway but I was then ushered to a room at the back for the test to be done – within minutes it was conclusively positive. After a lecture from the pharmacist (in Franglais) about safe travel I was asked to wait outside the shop for my receipt. I noticed the other assistants had applied their masks now and clearly didn’t want me inside – I felt like a leper – and stood on the pavement in the heat, feeling very sorry for myself.

Steve managed to get some lunch and we were able to check out the local amenities. It’s a simple little fishing village – lots of fruit, fish and things made out of coconuts stalls, local shops, one ‘superette’ and a few restaurants. A lot of places were closed and we realised later that they have the 12-4pm siesta time here. It was an overcast day although still clammy – we definitely weren’t getting the wow factor.

Our little fishing village in Sainte-Luce, Martinique
The local supermarket

Then finally at 2pm, after an horrendous night, 10 hours of travelling/killing time, whilst suffering my 1st day of Covid, we got to check into our room and I was able to sleep and sleep and sleep!! But not before that “oh what have we done’ feeling, as our accommodation turned out to be somewhat basic! One fortunate thing was that there was a spare sleeping area, curtained off from the main living space – because apparently we’d been given an upgraded ‘shack.’ It’s been perfect for my recovery though – my own little hospital ward!…. and a greater chance for Steve to avoid the lurgy!

My own little Covid wardand I can hear the sound of the waves lapping as I fall to sleep

The first couple of days continued in a sort of negative fashion. Having resigned ourselves to Covid confinement, I think each little detail about our rooms became a huge deal. After 4 days of bite-free bliss in Rodney Bay, we were back to being repellant-dependant. It turned out that the rooms weren’t due to be cleaned daily – think, after much discussion in our feeble French, we might have persuaded them round on this one!! The towels were threadbare and we had to ask for some beach towels. The only things supplied were one bin bag, one toilet roll, and a small jug of rum and orange – to last us the whole week! This meant that while I was laid up, Steve had to pay another £60 to get a taxi to the nearest big supermarket to stock up on bin bags, toilet rolls, tea bags and enough food to last us the week, as it’s doubtful that we’ll be able to go out to eat. Luckily we do have a kitchen area. What made it even more painful was that we’d just paid £80 for the same taxi driver to bring us here from the airport … he said to Steve “you should have said, we could have stopped on the way) – grrrr!! And, even though our views are to die for, it continued to be dark, cloudy and rainy … it was going to be a long week.

It may be grey but these views will cure anything

But things always brighten up don’t they, and we should know this from experience. So many times we’ve arrived in places and thought this is horrendous but they turn out to be brilliant. That’s the adventure of budget travelling – I think my being ill had magnified minor issues. It took waking up to blue sky and sunshine on Wednesday to discover that we were actually staying somewhere quite wonderful. We are literally 15 yards from being in the sea and our little stretch of beach is delightful. Steve had been out running (in the rain) over the last couple of days so had familiarised himself with the area a little and as I was feeling a little stronger by then we decided to try a walk. Turns out we are on a fabulous coastal path (trail) and yesterday and today we have been able to venture out on it – walking slowly, building up my strength – not touching anything or anyone!! We have Caribbean beauty at its absolute best – so many pretty secluded beaches, lush forest, magnificent bird life, beach bars and restaurants (desperately hoping I’m well enough for us to sample by the end of the week). We’ve managed 3 and a half miles so far – hoping to add a bit on each day. And swimming too – the sea is amazing.

Steve loves a panoramic shot!

So, as you can see, not really a whole load to complain about with this lot on our doorstep. I think we’ll manage!

And even though there’s still heavy rain on and off during the day, it’s not at all cold. One of the best things about being confined to barracks is that we have regular hummingbird visits – our verandah has a sweet water feeder designed for them. Some of the other birds try it out but their beaks aren’t long enough. The colour of the hummingbirds and their quick motion is such a spectacle (they are the only birds that can fly backwards) and each visit leaves us in awe.

Our stunning hummingbird visitors

A few others come to try!!

And the two regular seabirds here seem to be the Frigate Bird which we’d seen in St. Lucia and a new one for us – the Pelican, both pretty prehistoric looking. And boy can they dive bomb where there’s fish involved!


The quite magnificent Frigate Bird

Hopefully we’re over our grumbles now and each day I’m feeling brighter.

“And I think to myself, what a wonderful world … oh yeh.”

Hotel living in Rodney Bay …

It turned out that Presley had brought his ‘friend’ along for our journey up to Rodney Bay – her name was Eunice and she sat in the back with me.  I have a feeling that they were a little more than friends.  It was Presley’s birthday and he seemed to want to celebrate as we went along …he was particularly chirpy.  We’d only got down the road when he pulled up at a local seafood bar for some refreshment.  Nothing like a bowl of Octopus Stew to set you on your way!!!  Steve was very gallant in eating a bowl of it – I chickened out .. and declined the offer of a fish too – they didn’t look too appetising.  A little reluctantly, we joined in the celebration with a beer though … but there was something slightly disconcerting about Presley driving along with a beer in one hand and the other hand on the wheel, going round steep and twisty corners!!!  

Our first pitstop in Laborie – 15 minutes after leaving!

Anyone for a bowl of Octopus Stew!!?

… or an appetising fish perhaps!?

We drove up the East Coast – this was a part of the island we’d not yet explored. The further north we got the lusher it became and we stopped at some spectacular viewing points, driving through banana plantations and rain forest – everything felt so fresh.  

Mondeie Lookout Point

They love their colours here

En route we stopped for some sustenance at a roadside stall, famous for its wood-fired oven baked bread and pizza. We were invited inside to watch the preparation and cooking – full credit to the young man – he had the hottest job ever!  We feasted on hot bread and cheese, politely refusing the addition of herring.  

After three hours of travelling we finally arrived at our destination – The Bay Gardens Resort. We said our goodbyes to Presley and Eunice and they set off to return to the south. What a fabulous choice – the resort is on the beach, the bedrooms are beautiful and have air-conditioning (after 5 weeks without I can’t tell you how amazing that feels) and the pool and poolside bars and restaurants all very fancy. It felt quite a culture shock to be staying somewhere so civilised … and completely devoid of chores!

Overlooking Castries, the Capital, as we near our destination

Our incredibly comfortable and air-conditioned bedroom at Bay Gardens Resort

Our dreamy stretch of beach

Wasting no time, we quickly unpacked and headed to the pool and to the beach.  At sunset we took up the offer of a complimentary rum punch sitting at the beachside bar.  In the first few hours of arriving we’d bought a palm basket and some jewellery from hawkers (we’re rubbish at saying no!) and consumed a whole load of rum punch – all before changing for dinner. 

The first Rum Punch

This is Pious Joseph who managed to sell us some jewellery

And so the day progressed in that ‘first night of the holiday’ mode – stunning meal of shrimps, lobster, chicken and salad with chilled white wine – having lots of fun with the restaurant staff.  An after dinner cocktail turned into three as we ended off the day dancing to a country singer, meeting lots of new friends and flopping into bed in the early hours.  Who said we’d missed company!?

The hotel beachside restaurant

And the last few days we’ve really just taken the opportunity to relax.  We decided not to do any trips or water sports (1) because we’re saving our pennies for the next islands  (2) we just fancied being lazy!!  Having said that, Steve has run the last two mornings and I did the hotel Pilates class yesterday, even though I was the only guest to turn up!  Loads of swimming too, both in the sea and the pool. And earlier and more sober nights.


Steve out on a run

Me in Pilates action!

There’s plenty of restaurant choice for the evening – we walked along the beach to Spinnakers the 2nd night and enjoyed Red Snapper and Sweet Potato and Coconut Curry.  Last night we walked into town for a pizza and there was quite a buzz going on.  

At Spinakers Restaurant, just along the beach

Unfortunately I’m feeling under the weather today, sore throat etc. – hoping it won’t last. Plus it’s been heavy rain most of the day so thought I’d attempt to blog.  Steve’s been filling the time by watching some cricket on TV … and there’s also a great selection of golden oldies to choose from including ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ , Benny Hill, ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ and ‘On the Buses!’ – what more could you possibly ask for!!!? We have to be up at 4.30am tomorrow to catch the ferry to Martinique … so, it’s packing and an early night for us … here we go again.

Fond farewells … it’s time to move on in St. Lucia

Friday 17th – Thursday 22nd September 2022

And just like that, the house-sitting assignment comes to an end and it’s time for us to move to pastures new. Although parts of the last 5 weeks have been tricky, that can’t be denied, our overall experience has been amazing and one to be remembered for a long long time – for all sorts of reasons!

Last Friday we took the mile wander up the road again, to Roses Bar, with the intention of saying our goodbyes. Turned into a fun session with Brad, Rose and all the chaps – they certainly like a drink and a chat. We introduced Brad to our blog and he loved it – he showed lots of the customers, feeling famous as he was so largely featured. We stayed longer than intended as we were being bought drinks and didn’t want to appear rude. But we tore ourselves away at 6.30pm as it was getting dark and we still had a supermarket shop to do … and that closed at 7.00pm. We did however get talked into going back up for a final beer and goodbye on our final evening here – Wednesday.

As you can see it’s quite a lads affair!!

Steve impressed by this large bunch of plantains

Masseys, the supermarket, is across the road from Roses Bar and even getting that far we got pretty wet as the rain had started. We’d just got inside though when the heavens opened and there was an almighty downpour. The metal roofs in these parts certainly alert you to the situation. Feeling a little ‘merry’ after a few beers we were still relaxed about the storm outside, the mile walk home in the dark and the heavy bags we were clearly going to have to carry … it’ll be fine!! Towards the end of our shop, and by miraculous coincidence, we came across a young English couple … these are the first non-local people we have met in the last 5 weeks. So of course we got chatting and exchanged our stories – they really were sweet. They have just moved to live in St. Lucia and are so excited about their adventure. It just happened to come up in conversation that we had no car so they very kindly offered us a lift down to nearer our accommodation – we accepted without hesitation. They dropped us at the top of our lane so we just had a 10 minute squelchy walk down the muddy overgrown path to the house – we were like drowned rats when we got home – I think we even scared the cats!! But we’d had a great couple of hours and now had enough supplies for the rest of our stay.

We’ve had so much rain, thunder and lightning this week – a real tropical storm. There’s always sunshine in between though and things dry up so quickly. We’re still swimming everyday and making sure we enjoy these last few days of having a swimming pool to ourselves – that really has been such a luxury. We’ve even swum in the rain this week – no time to waste! And a couple more after dinner skinny-dipping swims too. I can’t begin to explain the marvel of floating in the dark under the magnificent array of stars, there’s very little light pollution here – that memory will stay with me forever. And because, as many of you will know, we always have music playing, we’ve discovered that late night pool dancing is on another level to kitchen dancing – absolutely magical and hilarious. Thought of all our fellow kitchen-dancers, including Immy!

We had an early rise on Monday, 5.00am, to be able to watch the Queen’s funeral live. My goodness, what a send off, it just couldn’t have been any better, so appropriate and deserved. Thrilled that so many people turned out to show their respects and the pageantry was something else. We couldn’t believe how seven mesmerising hours slipped by … and we’d only had a cup of tea. Betyann was in cleaning that day and watched some of it with us – she was absolutely fascinated. We tried our best to explain who was who and why we did things in such an extraordinary way – like all of us, I don’t think she’ll ever forget the spectacle of how we said goodbye to our beloved Queen Elizabeth II.

On Tuesday we spent quite a few hours making sure everything was ship-shape for the Doc’s return on Wednesday afternoon. It’s been so disappointing for Steve not to have the lawn at its best, due to broken mower, after all the effort he put into it in the first couple of weeks. But inside and out we made sure everything looked marvellous for the homecoming – our job was done. We’ve even managed to keep the cats alive!!!

As the Doc arrived back after a 2 day journey from Upstate New York, we grabbed Presley to drive us up to the bar for our final night beers. Turns out Presley has his own bar just near Roses so we stopped in there for a couple first (there were a lot more females at that one). And then on to Roses. We were given such a lovely farewell – people we hadn’t met before turned up as they’d heard about us and wanted to meet us before we left. A fair few rounds of beers ensued and much much laughter – we will treasure that night always. Presley gave us a lift home and we had a lovely chat with the Doc over dinner and wine.

Oh my goodness, there is SO much we are going to miss about house-sitting in River Doree, Choiseul. The views of the Caribbean Sea at the bottom of the garden and the views of the Pitons as we walk up the road. Picking fresh fruit from the garden and enjoying local foods that are kindly donated by the villagers. The ready smiles and ‘hellos’ from everybody we see. Although we hated it at first, we’ve even grown fond of the night-time jungle noises – so atmospheric. We’ll miss our lovely furry chaps – Tabby and Bebe – they’ve been an absolute joy. The birds too – our increasing number of egrets, the magnificent frigate birds which soar above us each day and the stunning hummingbirds. We’ll certainly miss the swimming pool and the relaxation it’s brought us … and from our sun loungers waving to the British Airways flight as it comes into land around 3.00pm each afternoon. And it’s hard to say goodbye to our new friends – travelling is the best adventure but always brings the sadness of farewells – we will miss seeing Betyann, Paul, Presley, Ian and all the lovely folk at Roses Bar.

The Caribbean Sea views at the end of the garden

These views of the Pitons as we walk up to the supermarket

Wax Apple

The tremendously tubby ‘Tabby’ … affectionately known as ‘Fatcat’

…. and the bewitching Bebe

We started off with one Egret each day, now we’re up to about 12

The sight of these magnificent Frigate birds

The British Airways flight which passes at the bottom of the garden every afternoon, coming into land

Bye-bye to our beloved pool – it’s been a blast!

And then it was time to say goodbye to the Doc, the house, the pool (after a final swim in the rain) and the cats. Presley is driving us up the East Coast of the island today, stopping off at some sights, on our way to our new home for the next 4 days at Bay Gardens Resort in Rodney Bay. The rain has been pouring all morning – raining tears as we depart this little piece of Paradise.

Saying goodbye to Paul (the gardener)

A huge fond farewell to the Doc, Jay x

‘The Doctor’s Inn’ …. we’re out!!

Laws!…..What laws?

Monday 12th – Friday 16th September 2022

As is typical of many a holiday, just as the house-sit draws to an end, so we begin to gather new friends and discover new places. This week we’ve been to a different local bar, eaten out, met some more local people, visited a beautiful beach and swam for the first time in the Caribbean Sea.

This all came about as a result of last Friday’s venture up to Roses Bar – there we met Roger (King Charles) who offered to cook a meal for us at his girlfriend’s bar. So this happened on Monday evening – he asked his friend Ian to come and pick us up and it was a short but very uphill drive to Delphia’s bar, which is a roadside hut opposite her family home. Delphia is lovely and it was great not to be the only female – naturally we chatted loads. She works at the local hospital during the day and opens up her bar, mostly for family and friends, on weekend evenings, or at special request like that evening. Roger cooked us the most delicious meal of pork in a sauce, chicken with potato, plantain, a root vegetable of some kind and salad. And there was wine! Ian is Delphia’s uncle and what a good chap he is – he drove us home afterwards, despite the beer consumed.

Us, with Roger and Ian

Us with Delphia and Ian

Delphina’s bar

Roger and Ian

Our delicious meal of pork, plantain, potato, root vegetable and salad. Chicken was second course!

We’ve grown to know that there are no rules here … and indeed they find it hilarious that the UK has so many ‘dos and don’ts.’ Well, there are laws but they absolutely take no notice of them … even the Police turn a blind eye. Drink and driving being an obvious one. When we were at Roses Bar last weekend, numerous customers drove up in their cars to purchase blood sausages, fitting in a swift double rum before jumping back in their cars and speeding off. And then there’s the bar opening times – they simply open and stay open whenever and for how long as they please. They do have to have a liquor license though, surprisingly!! We mentioned how surprised we were at the lack of smokers … they giggled somewhat and explained that the St. Lucia population grow and smoke their own kind of narcotic … obviously have been hiding that from us – not for sharing!! And definitely not illegal.

It turned out that Ian was on leave from his job with the Electricity Board for a few days so he offered to drive us the following morning to a beach in the next town – Laborie. An incredibly kind offer – he wanted nothing for it … it was like he felt sorry for us being stuck in the house – didn’t like to explain to him how palatial it is, with swimming pool and lots to amuse us. Still, we weren’t going to turn down an offer to explore new places. He turned up in a beautiful Lexus – turns out as a sideline he imports cars from the UK, via Ebay, and he loves this car. He told us that Lucian people will spend all their money on a good car, even it means they can’t eat or afford to pay rent or buy a home. The car is priority apparently and certainly we can see that as we walk around. He said he would pick us up at 9.00am after he’d dropped his son at school.

As I’ve explained before, nothing happens on time here …. at 10.30am we’d given up hope and had just settled by the swimming pool when we hear a beep of the horn and Ian arrives. He was able to squeeze us in after dropping his Mother-in-Law at the hospital and picking her up again. And so we got to Laborie beach which we’d heard about and enjoyed immensely. The sea was incredibly warm and the three of us swam and floated around for an hour, just ‘liming’ as they say!

Laborie Beach

And as we bobbed around in the incredibly salty warm sea, we got onto the subject of ‘laws’ again … Ian mentioned that because he was busy that morning, he let his 14 year old son drive himself to school … and that wasn’t the first time! Apparently he learnt to drive when he was 7. Although the legal driving age is 18, this is not policed! Neither is the use of crash helmets on the high speed motor bikes and quad bikes being driven.

But the funniest of all was when we were discussing taxes. There apparently is a ‘house tax’ in St. Lucia but the common way around this is to not quite complete the building – this means you are not liable for payment. And so Ian explained that most Lucians will just leave one wall unpainted – priceless!!

On Wednesday we had a day at the house – catching up on chores and Royal News. Just as it was getting dark we had a power cut – all felt a bit scary. Luckily there was still enough light for us to scrabble around and find candles, matches and torches – we had no idea how long it would last. We were able to phone our new friend Ian who confirmed it was the area and not just our house. But, with no fans working, we sat down to a very sweaty dinner in the dark – at least we have a gas oven and the meal was already cooking when the power went.

Our power cut dinner in the dark

Sh** on it ” …. (for ‘Friday Night Dinner’ fans) as well as a Lee GB pose!!

It was getting pretty unbearable after a couple of hours so we relocated to the verandah and were contemplating a swim to cool down when the electricity suddenly returned. But it was another beautifully starry night and the trees by the pool were bustling with fireflies so we decided to take a dip anyway … and a skinny dip at that! What larks!! So we spent a fabulous hour floating in freedom and looking up at the constellations and fireflies … oh, and the bats that were increasingly dive bombing! It was magical.

Dramatic sky

Our night time pool – before the dippers!

And so, the last 5 days have passed with a lot more variety. We’ve had our regular wildlife visitors with a few new ones too …

This Caribbean Hermit Crab came to call

Steve captured this very industrious army of ants carrying a dead beetle up a very tall wall

We are so lucky to have regular visits from hummingbirds … their iridescent green and blue plumage is a wonder to be seen. Unfortunately they are impossible to photograph because they are tiny and move so fast … this was the very best I can do!!
We have a regular gang of white egrets and chickens that run around the garden and play. Today they were joined by a different colour egret.

It’s Friday afternoon and we’re about to take a wander up to Roses Bar for the last time – have a few beers and be home before dark (6.30pm). We have 6 more sleeps now before we head up North and we’re going to make the most of every day.

It will be an early rise for us on Monday in order to catch the Queen’s funeral live – but we would not miss it. Will be thinking of you all back home.

So, just off out to see if we can break a law or two … and feel like we’re really local.

Mourning in St. Lucia

Saturday 3rd September – Sunday 11th September 2022

Our whole world was rocked this week with the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, on the afternoon of Thursday 8th September, peacefully in her Scottish residence in Balmoral. I have to start this blog with our small tribute to this absolutely remarkable woman, whose death has left us feeling bereft, like lost children. Thank you for your graciousness and inspirational commitment to your duty, your selflessness and humility always displayed for us all to see and to learn by. We loved you, we were so proud that you were our Queen and we will miss you. There will never be another like you and you will never ever be forgotten. R.I.P. Your Majesty x

The Queen and Prince Philip on their tour of the Caribbean, including St. Lucia, in 1966

So the first part of the week ticked by as usual, with our new little St. Lucian routine of chores and chilling starting to feel like normal life. Now that we have less than two weeks to go in the house, we’re trying to soak up all the amazing views the house and grounds have to offer, and its solitary peacefulness, and to appreciate this whole strange but true experience.

Last Sunday, we went to the Mission Church with Betyann and had a good old sing song. It started off with a rousing rendition of “We shall not be moved … we shall not, we shall not be moved …” etc. We didn’t know many of the other hymns but the words were boldly displayed and it was easy enough to get the gist of the tune, with a fair few “allelujahs” and “amens” thrown in. And we easily fell into the dancing and swaying with the rest of the congregation – loved it. There was a lot more besides – readings, prayers, testimonials and a long long sermon from the Pastor. We chose an appropriate moment to slip out after two and a half hours – we felt we had certainly done our bit.

Going into the Mission Church with Betyann

On Monday, I took a walk down to the beach with Betyann. She goes there regularly for her lunch and to swim and she wanted to convince me that I would love to swim there too. It is pretty, and I loved the short walk but, being pebbly and seaweedy, it doesn’t entice me as much as our pool does.

Our local beach

Me and Betyann hanging out at our local beach

This is where Betyann cooks her lunch

This is where Betyann sits with her friend to enjoy the beach most afternoons

Betyann and her cousin

We bumped into this dodgy looking chap on the way to the beach!

On the way back, Betyann took me through our neighbouring farm – goats and pigs … it was interesting but not how we would like to see our farm animals kept.

Betyann’s cousin very kindly gave us a breadfruit from his garden. Betyann showed me how to cook it when we got back to the house – we were eating it for the next 4 days – it’s very similar to potato.

Breadfruit being cooked

On Tuesday, Presley took us out on another drive – this time to Vieux Fort which is near the airport, still in the south of the island. We drove around the town, looking at schools, universities, the Heineken brewery and a race course that was built at great cost and only used once before covid hit, and has now been left to ruins. There is a huge sports stadium too which is currently being used as the hospital as the original hospital burnt down.

The Sports Stadium being used as a hospital

We stopped for a while by the beach and Presley introduced us to ‘sea grapes’ growing on the trees. They tasted similar to cherries but smaller and less sweet. Presley said that the children often come to pick them and then sell them in bags on the street to collect money to pay for their school uniform and books. I was wondering about British teenagers being asked to pick blackberries and sell them to contribute to their school costs – can you imagine!!!?

Sea grapes – they need to be red for eating

A young lad picking sea grapes to help fund his school uniform

Presley, stocking up on sea grapes to take home.

From this same spot, Presley pointed out the Maria islands that are not inhabited by humans but are home to two reptiles not found anywhere else in the world … (1) the St. Lucia racer snake and (2) the St. Lucia Whiptail reptile. That wouldn’t be a great trip for me!

Maria Islands

We also made a stop to buy some Johnnycakes – so delicious – similar to doughnuts but less sugar. Ironically, after centuries of sugar plantations, it is currently almost impossible to buy sugar in St. Lucia. A little embarrassing discussing sugar plantations though!

Steve queueing for Johnnycakes.

Our last stop before the inevitable supermarket shop was to drive up a very long and incredibly steep hill to see the lighthouse, and the amazing views.

Another sad demise this week was the sit-on lawn mower! Steve had it out for another outing and it ceased to cut. He’s very sad not to have the two acres looking like a cricket field when the Doc returns! By the power of Whatsapp we managed to show the spare part required for the Doc to bring on his return.

Thursday came with the sad news of the Queen and since then we’ve been, with unyielding patience, tuning into BBCiPlayer to watch all the footage … with all sorts of interference and buffering. That and YouTube have helped us so much in feeling closer to home at such a momentous time in our history. Not only the sadness of the Queen but watching and listening to Charles as he ascends the throne.

At times this week, with the bewildering grief, we have felt quite alone – so on Friday late afternoon we thought we’d wander up into the village to see if there was any marking of Her Majesty’s passing. There was no obvious wailing or flag flying but we headed to a local bar we’d noticed called ‘Roses Bar.’ We had no idea what it would be like but we thought it would be a great photo opportunity if nothing else. Well, we made many new friends in that next couple of hours … and yes, they were all so sad about the Queen and fascinated with the thought of Charles for King. There was also lots of cricket and football talk naturally as the customers were predominantly men. This is a completely local bar, not an inch of tourism about it (and that goes for the whole region we’re in) … but they seemed to love us – especially Steve who had them laughing hysterically. “Rose” is the super-friendly lady who owns it and and her fabulously funny son, Brad, runs the bar. So, we met Rose and Brad Brett, Roger Charles (who we crowned King) and Thomson Anthony … we did suggest to them that they have a lot of Christian names for surnames. We met lots of others too, including one poor old chap who fell off his chair – well he had been drinking 80% white rum all afternoon! Very basic and only beer or rum to choose from but the best fun we’d had in ages.

Me and Steve with Rose, the owner of the bar

Rose, Brad and Steve

Brad, showing us his gorgeous locks

We promised to return the next day as Saturday is their ‘Pork day!!’ Brad kills a pig in a hut by the bar in the morning and then during the day his customers pull up to buy fresh pork, and no doubt have a rum or two at the same time. He also makes ‘blood sausages’ which he raved about and said we would love. In the morning also he sells bowls of pig head soup which is made from the head of the pig from the week before, with vegetables added! We kept our promise and walked up again, in the heat, at about 4.30pm. Luckily all the pig head soup had gone but there were some blood sausages left which Steve bravely sampled … I cowardly declined … it was the name as much as anything!

Next week’s soup!!

We made sure we left the bar in time to walk down our lonely lane before dark … and we were rewarded with some stunning sunset views.

Extra-ordinary cloud formation

And today, Sunday, despite the fact that Steve had had one of those holiday upset tummies during the night, he medicated up and we headed up the lane for 9.30am mass at the Anglican Church – it felt important to pay our respects to Queen Elizabeth. It was a lady priest today and to be honest she was a bit fearsome. She was half an hour late turning up which didn’t get things off to a great start. She did say some words in tribute to the Queen plus a minute’s silence. Then we were asked to sing the National Anthem for the Queen for one last time!! It was slightly odd singing “Long live our noble Queen.” Steve and I boldly sang out … but came unstuck at the next two verses … so just had to listen along with the others. But then the sermon came and she took the opportunity to rant for over an hour about the lack of commitment and financial contributions from the parishioners – reading out all sorts of regulations. It was tedious and uncomfortable and completely irrelevant to us as visitors so we took an opportunity when her back was turned to make an exit. We’d been there for two hours at this point.

Now it’s Monday again which means we have 10 days left before we head up to the North of the island. We’re hoping to visit the local school sometime this week so it will be interesting to meet the children and find out about St.Lucian education.

I would definitely be there laying flowers and visiting the Queen lying in state if we were home – I feel sad not to be able to do that. We are with you all in this national grief, connected by the love of our beloved late Monarch – may she rest in peace.

Any more visitors?….

Saturday 27th August – Friday 2nd September 2022

A quiet week for us pensioner house-sitters – have not been out and about apart from shopping … oh and church on Sunday.

River Doree Grace Church is an Anglican Church in our village and easily walkable. Mass was at 9.30am and we had agreed to meet Betyann outside, so we got there for about 9.15am – it seems that ‘punctual’ is not a word here … most people, including Betyann, wandered in from 9.35am onwards! They were such a welcoming congregation, so much so that the priest at one point asked Steve and I to stand up and introduce ourselves and after some questions we received huge applause. I guess we did stand out a bit! The Anglican service seemed identical to the Catholic mass and so I wandered up to take communion … the priest afterwards confirmed that I was most welcome to receive communion but google seems to disagree! The hymns were all familiar although sung at the highest soprano pitch ever .. we still enjoyed warbling along. A couple of differences to back home (1) when they say ‘Jesus,’ rather than nod their head as we used to do in UK, they do this slight bend of the knee thing (it looks so funny en masse) and (2) t’s very high tech – the readings are done from their mobile phones!

This Sunday the mass starts at 7.00am (it alternates), so we’ve opted to join Betyann for a 10.00am service at the Mission Church. This promises lots of lively singing, dancing and whirling around – right up our street.

Nice and early for church on Sunday

As I say, besides this there’s just been a couple of shopping trips. We’ve walked to our local supermarket a few times now – it’s a mile each way so between the heat and the precariousness of roadside walking we only go if essential i.e. milk, bread and wine! We did need more of a major stock up this week though so booked Presley to take us to the larger supermarket in Vieux Fort. Just the taxi fare alone came to £50, besides the substantial cost of the food shopping. Being budget travellers, we really have picked on the wrong part of the world here. I’m not exaggerating in saying that everything is at least double if not three times the prices back home. Which is the reason why, while we’re staying in this remote part of the island, we’re opting to stay home-based, live simply, forego the more active life temporarily (apart from Youtube workouts and aqua aerobics), learn to chill with a book and assume that learnt Lockdown state of spending 24/7 alone. Luckily we love each other’s company but we are social animals too and I think we’ll both admit to wishing we had some others to share this with. Especially in the evenings when we’ve had a glass of wine – there’s a massive kitchen/diner floor and a fabulous juke box and just the two of us to boogie. We’ve jived on the verandah after dinner, we’ve sipped wine at dusk watching the fireflies in the trees, we enjoy gorgeous meals which Steve creates out of local produce, we chat over dinner and play board games … and then it’s still only 7.30pm, so we feel forced into doing battle with the array of TV remote controls!

We do have some visitors. Betyann comes once a week to clean and we manage to pack in a whole load of chatting during that time. Paul the gardener comes twice a week and is lovely but quiet – he has a coffee and then trundles off with his wheelbarrow and machete. We also have Ethan the Egret who particularly loves to play ‘catch me’ games with Steve when he’s on the mower. Then’s there’s Glenda geko and all her many pals (who love to leave little parcels), teeny tiny ants too numerous to mention and the odd frog. Lots of visiting birds too, none of which we recognise, except the hummingbirds. There’s plenty of night wildlife – the fireflies are such a spectacle and there’s a continuous blanket of sound from dusk till dawn – it’s like being in a jungle. Ironically, just as I’m typing (and it’s mid-afternoon), a wild dog, resembling a hyena, has just run through the garden – he looked a bit scary but luckily he ran off when he saw Big Steve!

Paul the gardener wielding his machete

Ethan, our playful Egret

Glenda the geko, looking for her mates

  Ooh, there’s one lurking in the rafters

And of course, we have the two beautiful cats – Tabby and Bebe – to entertain us. Tabby is very old (and fat!), walks very slowly and is prone to coughing … desperately hoping she lasts for the next few weeks. 

Steve’s had some England v South Africa cricket to keep him entertained and still manages to tune into the Wycombe football game every Saturday. Feeling so sad at the news of Bill Turnbull’s death this week at the young age of 66 – a wonderful BBC presenter and legendary Wycombe Wanderers’ supporter. 

We’ve had a couple of family zooms this week too – so reminiscent of Covid times – maybe we’ll get to quizzing by the end of our stay here. As Alice said, we’ve got plenty of time on our hands to set some quiz questions! 

As the days go by we begin to list the things we won’t miss but almost feel guilty suggesting it whilst living in such beauty and lavishness. So thought I’d do it in a praise sandwich, as we do in education and training!!

Things that are marvellous:

  1. Our outdoor shower – absolute love washing in cold water with blue sky or stars overhead.
  2. Fresh mangos for breakfast and fresh limes for my G&T in the evening.
  3. The sit on lawn mower and the two acres of lawn to keep looking splendid.
  4. A perfect temperature swimming pool from early morning. 

Things that we won’t miss:

  1. Struggling to dress because constantly sticky (no AC)!!
  2. Bitey things!
  3. Lack of company (at times)!!
  4. Expensive wine! … and expensive everything!!

Finishing off on a positive, of course:

  1. Who wouldn’t want to hang out their washing with the view of the Caribbean Sea at the bottom of the garden?
  2. Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by natural colour and beauty in abundance?
  3. Who wouldn’t want sunshine to fill their day?

  Fresh mangos from the garden for breakfast

  My G&T lime supply

The bottom of our garden

And a whole host of colour to admire each day, without leaving the garden:

So yes, we are glad we took this house-sitting assignment. Our retirement project was to experience living in different places and cultures and this is certainly one to embrace. Less than three weeks to go here before we move to the north of the island and then on to Martinique and Barbados. We’re pretty mellow right now – it’s 7.45pm, we’ve had dinner, we’ve had wine … I’ve finished the blog and Netflix here we come. 

It’s Saturday tomorrow – do you think anyone will come knocking!?