Peri 28/12

It’s been a very busy few weeks since the owners got back and we’ve done a lot of moving about.  It’s so exciting to get upstairs and see a new view.  A few days ago we went to visit the owners’ friends in their moving house.  Thornton went all gooey because he likes Debbie but I prefer to work on Stephen as he’s not overly in love with us, yet!  I egged Thornton to go and lie on their posh bed and he stretched out on Stephen’s side.  The owners thought it was hilarious and took pictures.  It was Debbie’s birthday and we were special guests so Stephen had to put up with us.  To be fair I think he does actually like us now but just doesn’t want to admit it.  We usually win people over.  They had a lot more places to play hide and seek in and I found a laundry basket to sit in.

  

At the moment we’re in a little bit of water surrounded by hills and there are some smart buildings on the land.  There are some little boat things that go and pick people up from their houses on the water and take them to a place where I can see them eating.  

 

The owner has been worried about Thornton as he’s coughing and looking a bit thin these days, he hasn’t been eating much.  My favourite owner tried him on that fat chicken meat that they have at this time of year.  He ate a bit of that but when she opened a tin of tuna he went crazy.  I think he’s just getting old and fussy.  He’s enjoying lying up in the sun and being brushed a lot.

Christmas In Bequia

Leaving Port Louis was an adventure in itself as we’d been static for 6 months but as we left the marina Clive thought there was something wrong with the power.  We anchored in the bay and I dived in to look at the propeller and it was covered in barnacles.  Great!  Clive got the dive gear out and set to work with a chisel and hammer so it was another hour before we finally set sail, at a greater speed.

We anchored for the first night in a sheltered bay further up the coast and then sailed over to Carriacou the next day where we met up again with Debbie and Stephen on Amelie.  This island is part of Grenada so we checked out with customs before going to our next stop, Union Island which is part of St.Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).  

 

Here we checked in with immigration and customs before settling down to enjoy the hospitality of the locals.  We anchored off a coral reef where a very resourceful guy called Janty had made an island out of conch shells and built a bar ontop of it.  The only way to reach the bar was by boat or to swim over to it.  We spent a few hilarious nights there, Debbie ending up behind the bar making a rum punch for Stephen. 

We needed a courtesy flag for SVG as our old one was in shreds.  A tall, lanky guy called Charlie Brown offered to go and get one for us while we waited in one of the bars in town.  When he finally turned up he wanted 40EC for the flag and 25EC for his walk!  Clive haggled a bit before paying but that’s all part of the fun.

Here we met up with some friends from the UK who’d done the Atlantic crossing the same time as us last year.  They’d left their boat out of water in St.Lucia for the hurricane season and were now heading south.  

 

Once we were checked into SVG it gave us scope to go exploring the many islands of the country.  The first was Petit St.Vincent which is an exclusive resort island.  We anchored off the shore which was dotted with little thatched beach huts.  We spent a couple  of nights at anchorage there, eating at the Goatie’s Beach Bar which is a lot smarter than it sounds.  We were even treated to an open air classic film night, 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea which was projected onto a huge inflatable screen on the beach.

Opposite was another tiny island called Petite Martinique which was only a short dinghy ride away and where we hoped to get some cash out from the bank.  Slight problem, the bank was no longer there!   We found a restaurant on the beach that opened up just for us one evening and a bar where we had a few rums and played dominos, otherwise there wasn’t much on the island.  We went snorkelling off a reef and also dinghied over to a stretch of sand with a thatched umbrella on it.  The place is called Mopion and quite tiny, I can’t really call it an island but it was very picturesque and ideal for snorkelling. 

As we hadn’t been able to get any money out, due to the lack of a bank, we went back to Union Island for another night.  We took the opportunity to stock up on diet cokes as I know from experience that a lot of the islands we’re going to revisit don’t have it. 

We sailed around to the other side of the island to a very calm bay where I was able to get my paddle board out and go turtle spotting.  It was the perfect location and we kayaked  over on my paddle board for lunch at the beach bar.  It was here that I was attacked by sand flies.  I didn’t feel anything at the time but overnight I came out in a rash.  They call them ‘no see ems’ over here.  So just when we’d got rid of the mosquitoes we had another little flying menace.

 

Our next island was Mayreau where we anchored in Salt whistle Bay and then Saline Bay.  We had an energetic walk around the deserted beach on the windward side, via the Last Bar Before The Jungle for a rum, and then up into town.  We stopped off at another bar run by a friendly Rastafarian called Robert.  He showed me and Debbie around the bar, kitchen, dance area and he was very proud as he’d built it all himself.  We noticed in one of the side rooms there was a camp bed which he obviously slept on.  I didn’t like to look but Debbie said his pillow was a pile of neatly folded clothes.  

 

After a few days here we upped anchor and sailed over to Tobago Cays where we picked up a mooring ball from a couple of young lads in a boat called Romeo and we booked a lobster beach barbeque with them for Clive’s birthday.  We spent a couple of days snorkelling with the turtles and clambering up one of the sandy hills to look at the iguanas.  There were some real beauties up in the trees, with their colourful spikey backs and various coloured bodies.

On Clive’s birthday we went over to Amelie where we were treated to a full English breakfast washed down with bucks fizz.  We went to another deserted island for a picnic lunch sat on a white sandy beach under the shade of a palm tree.  This was the island that had been used in The Pirates of the Caribbean when Jack Sparrow had been left marooned on an island with a hidden rum stash.  After a sumptuous meal we were entertained by the hermit crabs who Debbie and I decided liked cheese slices more than cheddar Pringles.  After a brief pit stop back on board we were collected by our hosts (Romeo) who took us ashore and cooked us lobster on the barbecue.

Next stop on our whistle stop tour of SVG was Canouan.  This is quite a sleepy island and we were shocked that the luxury hotel on the beach had absolutely no guests booked in, the week before Christmas but were still fully staffed, it was quite eerie..  We had a lovely meal in the restaurant and bought quite a few goodies from the attached deli there.

 

Clive and I had to go back to St.Vincent to export the cats and so we set off for Blue Lagoon to re-unite with some lovely people who we’d met up with in April on our way down to Grenada.  Stephen and Debbie headed straight to Bequia where we were due to meet them again for Christmas.

Blue Lagoon had undergone quite a lot of redevelopment, the Black Pearl Restaurant no longer existed and a new restaurant was due to open a few days after our arrival.  Our friend Raymond, the sail maker, was now working out of different premises.  We took the opportunity of asking him to make a plastic cover to put over our flat screen TV in the lounge for when we’re sailing and he had it back the same day.  A truly customised, speedy service!

The vet came and inspected the cats twice while we were there.  Once to import them and then again to export them.  So much paperwork and red tape!

We stayed for a few days and were able to go into Kingstown which is one of my favourite cities and totally unspoilt.  It didn’t disappoint with the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas.  We had a lovely Sunday lunch with Raymond, Nicky and their gorgeous children.  They were cute and so well behaved.

 

We arrived in Bequia 3 days before Christmas which gave us just enough time to re acquaint ourselves with the bars and shops.  

Christmas Eve was Debbie’s birthday so there was much celebrating, eating and drinking.  She’d requested that we take Peri and Thornton over to Amelie for her birthday breakfast and the boys loved it.  They’d not been aboard before and took great delight in exploring every cabin, nook and cranny.  Peri found the laundry basket to sleep in and Thornton chose the master bedroom (on Stephen’s side).  Stephen was very tolerant, managing to cook breakfast with the cats wandering around under his feet.  We got a taxi over to a fabulous beach hotel on the other side of the island and had the most spectacular lunch washed down with Chablis.  Somehow we found the energy to go out again in the evening and Debbie and Clive ended up having a tequila slammer shoot off.

Christmas day involved the usual turkey fest for lunch.  We went ashore to have a Caribbean brunch and try to skype family.  Back on Sephina we started with a magnum of champagne courtesy of Debbie and Stephen and tucked into our meal about 3pm.  Clive had cooked lobster bisque from scratch.  I refused to allow any slaughtering on board so he’d bought a cooked lobster from a local restaurant and googled a recipe.  It was the best lobster bisque I’ve ever tasted and we’ll definitely do it again some time.  Clive cooked the turkey  so that it was lovely and moist and everyone helped out with the trimmings.  There was just enough room for ice cream as we settled down to watch It’s a Wonderful Life.

On Boxing Day we went to check out with Immigration and managed a quick skype call home.  

 

We left Bequia the day after Boxing Day and sailed all the way up to St.Lucia and are now tucked into Marigot Bay again, the scene of last year’s Christmas day celebration.  From here we return to Rodney Bay Marina our first port of call after crossing the Atlantic last year.  We will celebrate New Year there and then start to sail north some time in January.

 

I hope all our followers had a good Christmas and would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for 2015.

 

Hurricane season in Grenada

Cruise Ships in Grenada

Over the last few months we’ve become even more smitten with Grenada and the friendly people that live here. 

 

We were lucky enough to have some great neighbours on our pontoon, in addition to Stephen and Debbie who are legends.  One guy, Miles, who’s had a boat here for years and knows the island like the back of his hand took us on a few walks up into the hills. On one we went to look around a couple of old, derelict forts, one of which had been a lunatic asylum (can I call it that?) and some of the rooms there sent chills down my spine. We were dive bombed by bats in a tunnel which was quite spooky and then outside there was a stunning view over St.George and the carenage. The guide who showed us around the main fort reminded me of something one of the taxi drivers told us.  He said that the locals can’t pronounce the French names of places on the island and this poor guide kept mispronouncing Versailles as ‘Versaily’. Embarrassingly, one of our friends corrected her!

 

Staying so long in one place really allows you to see how things are done and we became adept at lurking on corners in St.George for buses. They’re not supposed to stop anywhere but the designated bus stops and the police are usually out in the town trying to catch the drivers out and fine them. If a bus stops for you ‘illegally’ the conductor  tells you when it’s safe to board and hurries you on. It’s great fun.

We often heard a horn blowing across the water as we sat on deck and we never knew what it was until I came across the culprit on one of my walks. One of the little fishing boats had come up to a dinghy dock by the roadside and the guy was blowing in a conch shell, Lord of the Flies style. This was a signal to all the villagers to come down to buy his freshly caught fish.

 

Fun Times

Sunday lunches at the Coconut beach Bar became the highlight of our week as we’d head off in our dinghy with Stephen and Debbie to be welcomed by the owners Pat and Scratch. We were regulars and knew we’d made it when they reserved the best table for us every week and a few locals taught us some of their dances which were always easier after a few rum punches. On our final Sunday there we were treated to free drinks and there were tears when we said our final goodbyes and exchanged email addresses. It’s one place we’d definitely like to go back to some day.

 

We had a few day sails out of the marina, one with Debbie and Stephen on Amelie and another with Miles on Lone Star. Other than that we’ve been fairly static over the hurricane period.

 

Clive managed to win some prizes that he bid for at a charity auction.  One was a 2 night stay in the True Blue Resort Hotel.  We had a stunning ocean view suite which had 2 floors and 2 balconies. The air-con didn’t work upstairs on the first night so they gave us an additional night as compensation!  The best bit was that the boys went with us and they loved exploring and running about. Thornton managed to get shut in a kitchen cupboard and it took us some time to work out where the meowing was coming from. Peri went on to next door’s balcony and refused to come back. I had to climb outside the balcony railings to retrieve him as there was a dividing wall between suites and the neighbours were out.  Another prize was a snorkel trip to the underwater sculpture park just further up the coast from St.George. There were statues of people holding hands in a circle, a woman sitting at a desk with a typewriter, a bicycle and smaller figures that we were able to swim over or dive and inspect.  We were surrounded by beautiful fish and I spotted a shoal of squid.  We were taken to another bay for our second dive amongst more amazing fish. The third prize was some jewellery and as we had no idea what to expect we were pleasantly surprised when we collected a hand made silver necklace, bracelet and matching earrings set.

 

Debbie and Stephen met a couple from the UK who now live in Grenada and have the most stunning house overlooking one of the bays.  They took us all on a tour of the north of the island which is more fertile than the south. To do this they borrowed a large Land Rover and just by a complete fluke we ended up in the midst of a Land Rover procession that was going around the island. Quite bizarre.

 

Peri playing

The cats are still happy and Peri has taken to sleeping on the shelf next to my side of the bed. I don’t mind but he takes great pleasure in knocking my reading glasses off at me and anything else that he can find. Thornton is continuing to fade but is very chilled with life.

 

In true Pirate Granny style I had an accident in September. We were on Amelie when we decided to get pizza from the restaurant. I jumped off the boat and managed to miss landing on the pontoon, instead smashing into the concrete. A blood bath!   Fortunately it’s all a blur to me but I was rushed to hospital where I had 20 stitches to my chin and even stitches inside my lip. I’d smashed by teeth which luckily were a bridge anyway from a previous accident I’d had when I was about 12. My jaw was very floppy and I had it x-rayed to make sure it wasn’t broken. My wrist was badly sprained and swollen and I had an enormous bruise on my left leg as I’d obviously slipped between the boat and the pontoon. Other than that I was fine and very lucky. The worry was that Steph’s wedding was a matter of weeks away. The first trip to the dentist wasn’t good as I couldn’t open my mouth and he said he couldn't do anything until I could open my mouth wide for about an hour. 2 weeks later we went back and explained our hurry with the wedding and to be fair they sped things up for us. I had my new bridge the week before we returned to the UK .  That was cutting it close but just to add to the drama I lost my balance in the dinghy and ended up with a proper black eye. Pirate Granny indeed!

 

Our trip back to the UK for Steph’s wedding was magical. I promised Clive not to cover it in my blog as he wants to, but I need to say something about the trip. 

On our first day we crammed in having our eye tests in Prestatyn and a much needed haircut for me before heading off to see Carina, Dave and Luke in their gorgeous new house in Hope, North Wales. 

The next day Carina and I set off for the hen-do in Tewkesbury, ably organised by Carina who always has been a good organiser with an eye for detail. It was a fun, action packed weekend and gave me a chance to meet some of Matt’s family for the first time.

On Monday we were due to travel to South Wales but Steph thought it would be a good idea for Clive and I to go to Southampton to see her flat.  Slightly out of our way but we obliged and were glad we did as we had a lovely evening with the happy couple to be and it was reassuring to see how nice their flat is.

On Tuesday we went to South Wales and readied ourselves for the wedding. The timing was right for bonfire night and we went to the organised bonfire party/firework display in Porthcawl in the lead up to the wedding (which I’m not allowed to mention).  I’ll just say the wedding was perfect!!!!

Barbados

We had a further 3 days with Carina back in North Wales and were able to spend some precious time with Luke including taking him for lunch at our favourite Indian restaurant in Prestatyn, Rozi’s. We were welcomed back like long lost travellers and they gave us a T-shirt and mug and we promised to keep in touch.  Luke had his first papadum taste which went well but he wasn’t too keen on the chutney. He’s adorable and I’m just so glad that we have Skype and I look forward each week to photos and videos that Carina sends to me via Wotsapp.

Our time in the UK just flew by but it was so good to catchup with friends that we hadn’t seen for months in true party style.

 

We flew via Barbados again on our return and had a couple of nights in a posh hotel right on the beach. They were doing some work on the marble flooring in reception so as an apology they upgraded us to a suite!  (We weren't going to argue.) The balcony was ridiculous and unnecessarily long and as the rooms were so nice we just ordered room service and enjoyed the space.

 

We’re now back onboard and in a week or so we’ll start to head north slowly.  The cats are back in their home and I’ll swear Peri’s smiling at me. He didn’t settle as well in kennels as Thornton which surprised us as it’s normally Thornton that gets stressed.  Peri's lost some weight so I’m looking forward to spoiling him and getting some meat back on his old bones, which won’t be long as he’s now eating like a horse!

 

 

A Wedding

Steph and Matt
Steph and Matt

Our youngest daughter and her fiancé crossed the Atlantic with us in 2013. Soon after they decided to get married but with us still in the Caribbean we were unable to help plan the event but we could fund it! The date was set for November the 7th 2014. We had no idea where we would be by then but booked a flight to Manchester from Barbados as we knew we could always get a LIAT flight there from any of the islands. 

As it happens we ended up in Grenada and so were able to book LIAT flights. However LIAT, the Caribbean airline, have a reputation for unreliability. It is often said the initials stand for Luggage In Another Terminal or Languishing In Airport Terminal or even Leave Island Any Time. So prudence meant that we booked a hotel in Barbados and flew the day before our Manchester flight. We stayed in the Butterfly Beach Hotel and then caught the long flight to Manchester. As we had no winter clothes we first went to our storage unit to equip ourselves for the two weeks of cold wet weather.

We had some time to spare before some appointments in Prestatyn and you know you have friends when you can drop in unexpectedly and ask to take a shower. Thanks Gren and Elaine. Then off for eye tests and my wife had booked in for the long awaited hair appointment to restyle for the wedding. We stayed with our eldest daughter in her new house in Hope and then set off to see Steph and Matt in their new flat in Southampton. That evening Matt showed us around the Clipper 70’s boats that he was refitting in Hamble. Talk about mean racing machines. They're only 18 months old but are stripped back to remove every moving part for service and then repainted and put back together. I was in my element but the girls were bored!

We then set off to Porthcawl to stay in the Fairways Hotel which was also the wedding venue. As we left the UK in June 2013 we had not met Matt’s parents so we were invited round for dinner one evening feeling a little apprehensive. We needn't have been, they were delightful and easy to talk to and as we like Matt so much it shouldn't have come as a surprise that his parents were a joy.

The wedding rehearsal was a scream. The vicar of Pyle Church is a true star. His humour made us all feel at ease. The big day dawned and the weather turned windy and wet. I acted as chauffeur taking the wedding party to hairdressers and picking up last minute items. One popular request was Ibuprofen and Alka Saltzer! I then put my wedding suite on. I have not worn a suit or shoes for 20 months. I even had to borrow cufflinks from Matt's Dad. Matt wore Port and Starboard ones so I chose anchors!

It was time to go and see Steph in her room and I had to wait a few moments as she wanted me to see her in her wedding dress. As the door opened I was greeted with a vision of Heaven. She looked fantastic and a very proud Dad choked back the tears as we hugged. Ju and the bridesmaids equally stunning then posed for photographs and I ordered champagne. Soon Steph and I were alone and it took me back to the glorious times we had on the ocean passages watching the sun come up together. A very, very special time.

Bridal Party
Bridal party

Soon the moment was gone and we had to make our way to the bridal car. As we went down the staircase Steph tripped on the penultimate step. We both hoped this was the only hiccup and so it proved to be. A swift 15 minute drive and we were at the church. The rain held off as we arrived in the entrance to be met by the calming Vicar. Then the slow walk down the aisle as everybody was looking and Matt welled up. The dress worked! The ceremony was quick and humorous but despite this was full of thoughtful perspectives. The formalities were over and some quick pictures were taken by both the official photographer and myself. Back to the Fairways for a welcome drink of champagne. I had orange juice in mine as I still had to make the speech. The newlyweds went down to Rest Bay to see if there was an opportunity to dodge the rain and snap a photo on the beach. They were incredibly lucky as they had 5 minutes between showers but the sky was a photographer's dream.

The wedding breakfast was superb. Steph and Matt had put a huge effort into the detail and the hotel wedding organiser delivered. The table names were all significant boats in Steph and Matt's lives and of course the top table was called "Sephina". The speeches were some of the best I have heard and now my small part was over I made sure I had a large glass of cold Peroni delivered to the table. 

The party began and a “Line Dancing” caller got everybody up on the floor and even had the lads in a conga that went through the hotel, in the lift, around the bar and even across the road to go through the hotel next door l! One of the ushers provided the disco and really had the mood of the guests. He was gracious enough to allow us a few Caribbean numbers that we “made” our friends dance to! It was a wedding we had no part in organising but turned out to be one of the best days of our lives. Thanks to Kim and Jan for being there, Matt and Steph for the attention to detail that paid off and all our friends and family for a fantastic time back in Wales.

To top off the trip we had tickets for the Wales v Australia rugby game in Cardiff which we watched with Matt's male family, Steph and our French friends, Maureen and Thierry who always wanted to see a match in the Millennium Stadium. 

Now back in the Caribbean we are happy people. 

 

Happy cat

Peri   16/11

I’m happy again!  Trauma over and I’m back with our owners.  

I knew something was up when they started putting things into some bags. I sat ontop of hers hoping she’d take the hint but Thornton and I went for a ride in our basket and the owners left us with a woman we’d never seen before.  She was very nice and talked to us, she even brushed us every day but I missed my favourite owner.  Thornton played with the woman and was a right teacher’s pet but I was having none of it. I wasn’t sulking, I just missed the usual cuddles. Just when I’d given up hope of ever seeing them again I heard her familiar voice and we were bundled into a taxi. There was lots of excited chatter and kisses blown to us. I recognised the walk to our home and once we were on it we were let out and I’ve never been so happy. I purred and purred and purred and my owner smelt so lovely.  I heard them say that they thought I’d lost weight and need fattening up. I won’t complain about that. They’d bought us some new toys but I just wanted to be cuddled.

Last night was the best sleep ever!