Barbados (21st December - 30th December 2008)

We were incredibly excited to be in Barbados and as is often the case after a long passage you just don’t know what to do first and so do very little. Ella and Jack thought the colour of the water was everything they’d dreamed of and were quick to jump over the side of the boat into the warm water. They were soon enjoying snorkelling in the clear seas especially as they could even see the anchor and chain 5m below. Swimming has rapidly become our daily exercise and we are usually able to swim ashore from the good ship.

The satellite phone meant that whilst crossing the Atlantic we were able to stay in touch with home both on the phone and email. Because of this we were able to agree a rendezvous with Colm and Rosie albeit the commitment was a bit one-sided because we couldn’t really guarantee we would be there! Nonetheless, they booked up and the news that Gummy and Rosie would be in Barbados on the 22nd December and for Christmas further increased the excitement of landfall.

We arrived in Barbados on the 21st December, so it was after only one night in harbour that we found ourselves on a local Bajan bus on the way to the airport. The bus journey was exhilarating not least because we hadn’t been faster than 7 mph for the previous month. The random way that the door opened as we reached maximum speed and the regular mounting of the curb also added further, unneeded, excitement. The bus fare was the cheapest thing we ever found on the island, no matter how far you travel the price would always be $1.50 Barbados, about 30p. The drivers seem to be in a race to get everywhere and had a healthy disregard for traffic lights or indeed other vehicles. It was our first and last bus journey, not least because Colm and Rosie were staying in the 5 star Hilton and only use public transport in the event of a national emergency.

We latched onto Colm and Rosie in their luxury hotel and were immediately welcomed by the most beautiful reception area with a Victorian decorated Christmas tree, This was the first time any of us realised how close it was to Christmas, having missed out on Christmas shopping and the hustle and bustle this was a welcome reminder (Selma’s words) and made us feel good. The children were delighted by the swimming pools and could not wait to use them, they managed to swim there a few times whilst we were in Barbados and even to have a bath in Colm and Rosie’s hotel room. Jack thought it one of the best things about his stay in Barbados!
For the next week we explored Barbados, something which we had spectacularly failed to do last time we were there. We ate too much and tried everything available, probably in an attempt to make up for the fairly limited diet during the crossing. Pickled green bananas, cou cou - a mixture of cornflour and okra, jug jug, a Christmas speciality made up of various minced meats, pepperpot, a Bajan stew which is rather hot, flying fish, both smoked and grilled, bahi bahi fish, fried chicken and chicken roti, plus the ever popular pickled pigs tails!

The children were not sure if Father Christmas would visit us and as they had no stockings they used their pillow cases, just in case he made it to the GSB. Christmas morning dawned and indeed he had been able to find us, Ella later said that she knew deep down in her heart he would not forget us, but that she had been a little worried as this was the first year she had not written to him! We began our day as usual with the children joining us in bed to open their stockings and then we had a good breakfast on deck in the 30 degrees of heat, and opened our presents. Thank you to everyone who either sent out or gave us presents, it was lovely of you all. We also found four bags full of goodies for each of us on deck when we came up for breakfast. The note said from Santa but Derek on Hunros knows better; thanks Derek, much appreciated. Colm and Rosie joined us on board at noon for Brimble snacks, cocktails and further exchanges of gifts including from Colm and Rosie our very own Christmas tree with lights! The children were delighted. John, Colm and the children took the dinghy and snorkelled over a wreck not so far away from where we were anchored. Rosie and Selma carried on drinking. Christmas dinner was a BBQ on the beach, all was excellent until about 5pm when the heavens opened up and we were poured on. The only thing I can say was it was warm rain, but it did bring proceedings to a slightly premature close.

Obviously being at anchor means that the dinghy is in constant use as a car is at home to ferry us all around. Barbados is notorious for a big swell onto the beach and both getting onto the beach and away from it can be interesting. Colm and Rosie managed with much style and did not even get wet, the same cannot be said for the Halsall’s. Late on Boxing Day after we had spent a fantastic day at the horse races, a Baja

n tradition, we ended up at the Hilton for a dinner extravaganza, accompanied by piano player and singer. Then, somewhat worse for wear, (well Selma was), we had a direct hit and were entirely wiped out. With two adults it would have been pretty funny but watching the kids fly into the air, out of the dinghy and into the surf was less fun and the children were a tad nervous for a few days after.

Colm and Rosie left us after our last sight seeing tour which had to be the Mount Gay Rum Factory and we cleared out of Barbados and were now bound for Bequia, one of our favourite stops last time in the Caribbean. We left on 30th December for the ninety mile over night sail with the aim of spending New Year’s Eve with the crew from Starblazer.

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