Check out our travel blogger Mary as she leaves freezing Gatwick Airport for sunnier climbs.
As we stepped through the aircraft door into the Barbados sunshine we immediately became aware of the heat. No longer cold as when we had left Gatwick Airport just eight and a half hours previously. We have been away this month in Barbados staying on the west coast as a part of a group of sixteen friends celebrating a 70th birthday.
We are staying on an all-inclusive basis near Speightstown. When we arrived, we had a quick look round and then swam in the blue warm Caribbean Sea. Our beach is delightful with natural shade from Bannion, Palm and Manchineel trees (watch out for the latter one and ensure you don’t tread on their poisonous fruit).
Speightstown is an old fishing and market town which is owned by the National Trust of Barbados. It is quite rustic in Caribbean terms but behind the crumbling facades are some beautifully restored colonial interiors which house some of the restaurants and shops.
Our hotel is in faded glory and was once a sugar plantation. The staff are so friendly and look after you very well. The treats are the al a carte nights which are a class above the buffet. Homemade soups, surf (Lobster tails) and turf with rum cake to finish.
Included in our package are a number of trips. We took an island safari which was great fun with Ian as our driver and guide. We crossed the island past villages that are in a bygone time warp. Driving into the forest it got a bit bumpy. We saw Guava, Breadfruit, Bananas and Cotton all growing by the side of the track. Ian tells us that there is little sugar grown now in Barbados compared to previous centuries, what they do have is brown sugar which, can you believe, is sent to the UK for refinement and then returned to them in white form. Of course, one of their biggest exports is rum, Mount Gay is the famous brand.
We reach Badsheba which is on the Eastern Atlantic coast. Wild rollers crash into the rocks forming magnificent shapes.
Then we carried on North to Lucy’s point which is the equivalent of Land’s End with a rainbow completing the view.
The highlight of our stay was a day out on a catamaran for the sixteen of us. Our captain took us through the safety stuff as we left Bridgetown Harbour. We follow the coast heading north. First stop is to snorkel and whilst doing so, huge turtles brush past us – amazing! Its great seeing everything from the sea. Number 1 Sandy Lane comes into view, home we are told of Simon Cowell, Cliff Richard and Rhianna. Back down the coast we sailed to Carlisle beach and anchor close to the perfect sandy beach, the sea is crystal clear.
Swimming, rum punch and lunch are very enjoyable. The music goes on and we all sing and dance along. Great party. When it ended, we boarded mini buses which took us back to our friends villa at Mullins Beach. A beautiful town house overlooking the beach. It finished off a fantastic day.
We have tried a couple of local eateries to ring the changes from our all-inclusive. Chunky fish namely marlin and tuna are popular. Hotpot is on a lot of menus and these include oxtail and beef. The curries have a very different flavour from those we know back home. Coleslaw and Rice and Peas (read beans for peas) are always available.
The girls spent some time shopping while the guys enjoyed a day at the cricket. Barbados played Guyana. Holetown was our shopping destination, lots of painted shacks house an array of locally made goods. Hand printed linens and homemade jewellery are delightful, but often very expensive. Also, there is a designer mall if that’s your thing!
We enjoyed a recreational beverage as they are called here, before heading back on one of the yellow reggae buses. These buses would fail any minimal health and safety test in the UK but all human life is going on!
The natural world is well represented in Barbados. Numerous birds from humming birds to large Frigate birds abound. Around our hotel are a large troop of monkeys which often met to entertain us (and steal bananas if you are not looking!). Insects includes large centipedes (although they may have been millipedes but we couldn’t finish counting the legs) and small green lizards. Last but not least we saw whilst on the catamaran a flying fish. It was out of the water for four or five seconds flying low and at an incredible speed, amazing!
We finished off with a few relaxing days enjoying local walks and lazy lunches. The character of this Island is one of a contented people, happy with their lot and their motto is “Don’t worry bout a ting”. Barbados comes highly recommended to escape the UK winter blues. Average temperature is 25 degrees centigrade.