Although my holiday was more based on seeing how the people live in Barbados, I did, of course, indulge in some tourist activities. The sightseeing trail of beautiful beaches is probably top of most people’s to-do list, and I saw plenty. The clear turquoise seas and white sandy beaches, some still partly covered in the sea moss that mysteriously invaded the island last year are fringed with swaying palms. My local beach, Bathsheba, is a surfer’s paradise. The waves roll in a frothy, curling wall reaching heights of over 20ft.
Further afield, we visited St Nicholas Abbey, not a religious place, but a sugar cane plantation. The lovely 17th century Jacobean building is set amongst lush tropical gullies and mahogany forests, and the 400 acres of rolling sugar cane makes quite a spectacle. Aside from the guided tour of the mansion, rum tasting is a big thing. The process is continuous, but not always available for visitors to witness. On this day, though, the men were hauling in the cane to crush down to release the sugar juice for bottling into syrup – the first step on its way to rum production.
I watched for a while as they pushed the canes through the chopper, then decided to chat to someone to get a full explanation of the process. Of the 20 or so men working that day, I chose to speak to a friendly looking Rasta who was swilling the liquid around a trough and feeding it through to the next stage.
“Where are you from?” He asked me. “London, “ I replied. “Where in London?” “East London.” “Where in east London?” Well. This could go on a while, but basically – amazingly – he knows my home town – used to live nearby!! This man that I met 4,202 miles from home used to play cricket in my local park. How incredible is that??! There’s no such thing as a coincidence – we were clearly destined to meet on that sunny Caribbean day. (it’s all a form of networking, isn’t it…?!)
Another attraction that draws in tourists and Bajans alike is the Friday Fish Fry at Oistins, an active fishing town on the south coast. As we enjoyed a sundowner or two on an upturned sailing boat on the beach, the sun set (almost) spectacularly in the west. The beautiful peace evident in my photo is polar opposite to the scene behind me – a buzzing night market selling all manner of jewellery, ceramics, trinkets and souvenirs. And a few steps beyond that, restaurants and bars thronging with crowds clambering eagerly to secure a seat from which every type of fish imaginable shows up on the menu.
And no Friday night would be complete without street entertainers performing and a large dance floor of elegantly dressed couples twirling in each other’s arms to the sound of calypso.
My last visit on the island was the gorgeous tropical gardens owned by Anthony Hunte, not far from the east coast: a beautiful oasis of lush greenery, fantastic blooms and a nest full of baby hummingbirds. It led me nicely back to London, where my first stop was Sunday’s Columbia Road Flower Market – a floral treat right on my own doorstep. If you’re in London and you haven’t visited, you really should. A row of flower stalls squashed between Victorian terraces selling art, bric-a-brac, gifts and delicious food. It’s a treat!
The bougainvillea is spectacular in Barbados, but my first love is still roses – and I have a beautiful bunch elegantly displayed in front of me as I’m typing this, courtesy of Philip and Columbia Road. As Mr M. Loaf says, “On a hot summer night, would you give your throat to the wolf with the red roses…?”
So I’m back in London, back in the world of social media and business training, back into work mode. A couple of people have called me about using their training budgets before the April tax deadline, so if you’d like to take advantage of end-of-tax-year offers, call me, drop me a line or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.