Lobsters Alive & now you has jazz!

Tuesday evening was spent at Lobsters Alive, the restaurant on the way to Bridgetown. A return visit after a fabulous Sunday there. But I could not bring myself to be responsible for one of these gorgeous lobsters in the tank, so I had tuna instead and it was melt in your mouth delicious. Art, the Australian owner, flies to the Grenadines and brings the lobsters back fresh.

Roger

Once again, the smiles of the team there were welcoming and friendly and the jazz quintet started playing later.

The baby of the band is Roger Gittens, the piano/keyboard player. Born here in 1964, his Mum sent all the children to piano lessons and that’s where it all began.  Roger is now a music teacher and lives nearby with his wife and 2 boys. He can surely do magic with the ebony and ivory keys!

Elvis

The bass player is Elvis Edwards, who was born in 1961. Elvis used to be in the Police Force and he started his musical career when joining the Police Band as a clarinet player. He switched to playing the bass guitar and strums those strings beautifully.  He and his partner have a small farm where they grow ‘erbs such as, majoram and thyme.

Vere

We mustn’t forget the drummer ~ Vere Gibson. Great guy with one of the most contagious laughs I have ever heard! Vere was born on this island in the year 1939 and he’s still got the mischievous little boy inside him! His family lives in Vermont and he says they come over to check him out every so often! His ability to stroke the skins to drive the beat is memorable, but it is the irresistible smile and chuckle that I shall remember most ~ and the twinkle in his eye!

Lord Jenkins

And, last but by no means least, is Lord Jenkins – Stuart to his friends. Born in England in 1933, Stuart went to Art School, and, when a student, lent £5 to a classmate, who was then unable to repay the debt. He gave Stuart his trombone instead and as he says, what good is a trombone if you can’t play it?  So he taught himself, which was made easier by the fact he was musical and could play the piano. Later, he was given a government contract to establish Art teaching at the Bridgetown community college for the ‘A’ level Art exams and has lived here since. His three children live in Germany, Crete and Barbados, respectively.

With four great players, the band should be good anyway ~ but add that ingredient of joy and there is magic!  Two of them play on a Thursday evening, along with Art (a pianist),and others, at the Waterfront Cafe in Bridgetown ~ they are called the VSOP band. Very Special Old People ~ how great is that?

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The US Attorney General & the ‘wonderful’ EU

The Bajan Monday dawned with the crystal clear sea showing off all its different hues of blue again. A slow start to the day, just chilling and deciding how to do nothing for the day! Off for a nice long walk that takes us wherever; and that was The Boatyard for lunch. Had a fruit punch to drink, sooo delicious; and the food was good too.  We wandered around for the rest of the afternoon and then back to the Hilton. Gorgeous smiles to greet us! The team here is superb, nothing is too much trouble and I have yet to see a face without a smile.  When admiring the gorgeous plants outside, one of the gardeners, Hayden, came over to tell us what was what. Such warmth, such friendliness.

Oh, men in suits too, with their earpieces in, around the lobby and outside the hotel! Had someone told them I was coming back? But no, as we found out later (after being told, by one of the polite men in suits, ‘Sorry Ma’am I cannot tell you that’), it was for the US Attorney General, Eric H. Holder, Jr. And what a very distinguished gentleman he is too, carries himself with great dignity. He was staying overnight and so we slept that night knowing we were in one of the safest places in the world :-)

Another lazy morning for Tuesday.

Barbados Tourism has a strap line on its site ~ The official ambassadors of how to live life.

Love that, and it is so true ~ their culture is one of smiles and friendliness; of laughter and joy.  There is no ‘London Underground’ culture here, you make eye contact and speak, it has such an uplifting effect.

Tuesday we turned right and went to Hastings – we walked past the Garrison and the Savannah Racecourse onto past the Savannah Hotel and then we came across this, well how can I put it, expensive, ostentatious blot on the landscape.  This is the HQ for the European Union Executives Office; good to know the taxpayers’ money is being used wisely! Built on a premier location above the beach, the picture is of the righthand side of the building.

Moving swiftly along, we kept to the beach road and it was gorgeous. The next post will be about Tuesday evening and all that jazz!

Barbados – Saturday with Gene Kelly & Sunday with Satchmo!

I am still in a state of wonder at actually being on this beautiful island, we arrived on Friday evening.  Saturday dawned not as a beautiful sunny day with cotton-wool balls of clouds but with a sky that was completely grey.  And, guess what?  It rained all day!  And when I say rained, woah, it came down in bucket loads! Of course, all the locals had umbrellas, it was just us visitors who walked around as if we were all auditioning for wet t-shirt competitions! The pic on the left is taken from inside a restaurant, where we stopped for lunch and our only place of shelter!

Other than this, we sang and danced in the rain with Gene Kelly! Just love that song :-) The temperature was fine, it was just wet and if you’re dressed for the rain, t-shirt, shorts & flip flops, then you can have a wonderful time. We walked into Bridgetown and we walked back, with taxis beepings their horns at us every few minutes and asking if we needed a lift. The look on their faces showing their disbelief in these strange people wanting to walk! It continued to rain for the day and evening, the Hilton being a great sanctuary!

Sunday morning did not disappoint, it dawned with a beautiful glow everywhere, yes!  Oh my goodness, the different hues of blue in the sea, from turquoise to deep, deep blue. I could get used to this! We had nothing planned, so stopped at the concierge desk to chat about what to do. We struck gold with Pauline, what a star! So much to do and, as the old cliché says, so little time to do it! Pauline recommended we go for lunch at Lobster Alive as on Sunday lunch times they had a jazz band playing. That was one of the best recommendations we could have been given, and, luckily, there was one table that wasn’t booked! The team working there was great; helpful, professional and so friendly. As for the food, suffice to say that my diet has been blown to pieces! Gorgeous! And then the band started playing, oh my, but they were good ~ bass guitarist, trombonist, keyboard player, drummer and vocalist/steel drum player. Lunch is served from 12 noon until 4 p.m. and I guess we were there most of that period. During one of the breaks, I was emboldened to ask if they would do a Sam Cooke number.  This pic is the vocalist singing ‘You Send Me’ – oh, and I was, it was beautiful, my favourite singer & song of all time, done with a jazz twist. What made the whole experience even better was you could see the joy the guys were getting out of playing together. That’s the word that comes to mind when thinking of Barbados, JOY!  And when they sang ‘What A Wonderful World’, the words seemed more vibrant.

Fortunately, they’re playing again on Tuesday evening and we’ve already booked the table! How can you beat good service, good food, good music and joy???????

Sing along . . . Oh, we’re going to Barbados!

Today is a momentous one for me – ‘tis the first time I am fortunate enough to be going to Barbados AND the first time I am flying with Virgin Atlantic. The lovely girl at checkout, (I think her name was Carlita, she was from Portugal) managed to sort out the fact that my friend, Tim, and I had separate seats.  Yes!  I got a window seat; I was so excited, but what I didn’t know what row 42 was positioned above the wing!  Heigh ho.

Delightful, smiling girls as the cabin stewardesses, and the food was okay.  Was an hour into the new Woody Allen film, ‘Midnight in Paris’, when suddenly a passenger announcement came on to say the entertainments system was not working properly and so they had to reboot it, would be about half an hour. These things do happen. Back on and fast forward to where it had been interrupted – oops, not for long, blank screen again.  Loading, loading, loading  . . . please wait. Reading fonts . . .  please wait.  Verifying configs . . . please wait.  Uh oh, a blank screen again!  It did come back eventually and I  managed to watch the end of the film and went on to use up quite a few tissues watching the film ‘The Help’!

Finally we arrived to be greeted by a series of fabulous Malibu Rum posters; the first of which said, ‘Welcome to Finland . . . only joking!’. Ha! I immediately thought of the lovely Zoe, The Quirky Traveller, when I saw that. J  Quite a wait to be checked through customs and then caught a taxi to the Hilton.  My Aunt Selina had said that she stayed at the Hilton when visiting Barbados many years ago and there was a tree in an atrium growing up in the middle of it.  Not there now though, the hotel was knocked down and completely rebuilt in 1999.

The Hilton is, as one would expect, very plush, and we had greetings from so many friendly and professional personnel.  The room is gorgeous and this is the view that greeted us as we stepped onto the balcony, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

So far we have met Swaine and the lovely Cheryl from the team at the hotel; both definite assets to the
Hilton.  More to come . . .

Where were you when World War II was announced?

This morning, my Aunt Selina and I went to a Reminiscing Morning at Bedford’s Bunyan Meeting Rooms. This adjoins the John Bunyan Museum in Mill Street.  It was our first visit and came about from the Bedford Tweet-Up when the lovely Gemma and Kristian were telling us all about what was happening while the Museum was bring renovated. We walked into the Bunyan Meeting Room and were greeted by a room full of smiling faces, simply delightful. The group co-ordinator was Carmela from Bedford Museum.

I can’t remember all the names I’m afraid but it was fascinating to sit there and listen to people being recorded whilst talking about their memories.  They spoke of the times when bombs fell on Bedford and seeing the bomb doors open as they were dropped.  Next to Bedford is Cardington, where the kite balloons were manufactured in the huge airship hangars and also, where the RAF was based. They spoke of playing in the ruins of the houses in Albert Street, where there was a direct hit. They spoke of the hardships and the fun, but most of all, they spoke of the community spirit, each helping, and looking out for, the other.

Aunt Selina spoke of the Morris shelter they had in the house and then they asked whether she remembered anything of World War I, and she did – she was born in 1912!  Her Dad, Edward Turney, went off to war and came back, like so many, a changed man, who never mentioned the horrors he had witnessed.  He had contracted TB in the trenches and Auntie was only 15 when her beloved father died. There is so much more to the story, but that’s for another time.  What she spoke about is now taped and will be put into the living history section of the Bedford Museum.  Fabulous project.  The next meeting is on 1st December and we’ll be there again.