Newsagent: Sorry, you’ll need to speak up. Number 73 where?
Me: Whisper, whisper.
Newsagent: 73 Kingston? Right. And you want to stop the papers from when? Sorry, still can’t hear you. From next Thursday? How long will you be away? Going anywhere nice?
So, along with the taxi driver taking us to the airport, and the binmen and the recycling, and the postman, that’s most of the town now know we’ve left the house unstaffed.
Mrs. Blog has gone large for this holiday on sunscreen factor 200 and seems to have packed a year’s supply of instant porridge. I was left with just the trivial bits and pieces to remember, like passports, driving licence, tickets and cash. Leaving me accountable for those items may not be a good thing – I had to rely on our next door neighbour to deliver my licence to me at Gatwick Airport not so long ago for a Spanish holiday while, on another occasion, it was only the fact that my in-laws were travelling with us to Florida and my octogenarian father in law happened to have his own licence in his jacket pocket that saved that particular holiday from something of a disaster. Not that he was going to be allowed to drive the hire car, mind you, but it served the purpose of securing the keys.
Barbados appears to be just where we left it, which is handy. We’ve arrived at the hotel during happy hour at the pool bar, which presents me with my second problem since landing. (The first was discovering that I either had to tip the chap who brought the bags up with the equivalent of a twenty pound note or just shake him gratefully by the hand.) The pool bar dilemma? Are two rum punches for the price of one a better deal than using the complimentary drinks vouchers we’ve just been given at Reception? After an eight hour flight and four hours’ worth of jet lag, that’s not one I can resolve.
Always prepared to launch into manly hunter/gatherer mode when on holiday (it’s part of being virile to be able to defend one’s family’s meagre allocation of space in the luggage rack against assailants), my antennae were quickly twitching at hearing the words, “We’re pleased to be able to offer you a room upgrade.” Especially as I’d confirmed weeks ago which room, with view of said pool bar plus sea, we would be allotted. Well, Mrs. Blog can sniff out cigarette smoke, drains and potentially noisy neighbours at 400 paces and within minutes we were being moved back to the room we had booked originally. So, another bag hike from the porters and another twenty pound note. No, only kidding on that last bit.
Mrs. B frets a lot about her wi-fi connection on holiday. (I presume it means she’d rather be talking to someone other than the person she’s holidaying with.) She appears committed to reading out to me on the beach the entire content of the internet from her iPad – and I fear she may be less than halfway through. But at least that’s keeping her off my own reading material – yesterday I caught her marking her place in “The Girl on the Train” by folding over the corner of the page (see “hanging offence”, previous blog.)
Me, I worry about not using up all the clothes I brought with me. I start the week by conserving shirts for reuse and end up having to change three times a day to justify having taken them all with me.
I feel, if one has opted for a holiday next the sea, one should put in at least one appearance in the foaming brine. Though I say it myself, I believe I have something of the look of Daniel Craig about me as I rise, dripping, from the surf and set out for the beach loungers – though with more body hair obviously. Unfortunately, I feel the impact I was seeking may have been diminished when I was tackled (unfairly) from behind by a two foot monster wave and measured my length on the shingle.
Mrs. Blog well protected from the Caribbean sun
This blog in sun-bronzed god mode
I’ve discovered that, after many years of suffering, we have become the people who get up early and appropriate beach loungers by draping our towels over them. Does that make us ineligible to read The Guardian or claim to be socially aware?
Lest I give the impression that we are mere sun seekers, I would stress that Barbados (which seems to be pronounced by locals to rhyme with “those” rather than “dross”, is a land of plenty when it comes to “things to do” and “places to see”. This year, having covered much of the ground on previous trips, we took in inter alia some fine gardens, horse racing at the Garrison Savannah, swimming inside a sea cave, dining on the strand to the sound of a jazz band, and snorkelling with turtles (well, at least, until the sea water filled my goggles.)
Blogdaughter and I eyeing up our table for Mother’s Day lunch. There are worse places… Mrs. Blog is probably checking her sunscreen.
Our highlight this year, however, must be the visits we paid to Holders, a former plantation house which now hosts its own polo pitch (ground? field? in mint condition?), weekly “farmers’” market (jewellery, CDs, pashminas), and particularly its two week long annual programme of outdoor music. Staged brilliantly and magically lit in the wooded gardens of the house, we were blessed with a fine, starry evening and a delightful concert. (I have to say that I could have done without the tuneless attempts of a woman in the row behind to sing along and it came as something of a relief when the strains of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring eventually proved just too much for her, though she undoubtedly gave it her best shot.) Beats Glyndebourne anyway.
I can’t see the habit of a brisk walk before breakfast surviving. Allowing the shallow waves of the warm Caribbean to wash over one’s toes may be all very well on holiday, but back home in Sussex I shall be looking to two caffeine laden mugs of Arabica and my daily Sudoku to start the day right. People who know about these things highly recommend that first cigarette and cough of the day, but I think Mrs. B may have other ideas about that.
During the last few days of the holiday I’m easily tempted into wondering what I might be able to pick up that could prevent me from flying home on time. (I’m thinking of something like a handy ear infection, you understand, rather than shoplifting a Colombian emerald, but I haven’t yet managed it.)
So, back to the “real world”, wondering how we managed to come home with no phone or iPad chargers or adaptors, and starting to look forward to the next holiday. Bring it on!
PS Following lengthy consultations the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has ruled that veterinary surgeons in the UK should be brought into line with other nations and use the courtesy title of Doctor. Mrs.Blog is indifferent to this: she says this correction of an “historical anomaly” has probably come a tad late for her in her twilight years but that “baby vets might like it.” She prefers to wear the badge below in consultations to gain the respect of clients:
She is understandably wary of using the new nomenclature on her passport and thereby risking being summoned to an in-flight medical emergency. “Is there a doctor on the plane? We have a budgie in seat 17D requiring urgent medical assistance.”
This blog is pleased to announce that Mrs. Blog shall henceforth be referred to as Doctor Mrs. Blog. Or Mrs. (Doctor) Blog. Or Mrs. Blogdoctor. I am assured that this will not affect her responsibilities as Global M&S Ambassador. Or for packing the holiday sunscreen.