Saturday, 19 April 2014

CHAPTER 21



BARBADOS PART TWO......






I woke up after a wonderful undisturbed nights sleep only to find Wendy was not in bed beside me.
I assumed she was in the bathroom, so I called out to ask her if she wanted me to order some breakfast. She didn’t respond. Odd I thought, so I got out of bed, opened the sliding doors onto our terrace and there was my dear wife standing on the beach drinking from a freshly cut coconut (See Photo) I remember thinking this is what they must mean by living in paradise.

After breakfast of fresh fruit we decided we should go and have a bit of a look around the island, do our tourist thing, knowing I'm normally not a great fan of, we settled on a quick visit to Holetown which we agreed is as good a place as any to start. Wendy, as usual, wanted to look around the shops and I had the most unusual habit when visiting a new country and that was to look around the local supermarkets. I know, I know I’m a bit weird in this, but I just liked looking to see what produce etc they keep on their shelves.
Rory had ordered our rent-a-car but it wasn't due until later that afternoon so he suggested we just jump on a bus as they pass regularly outside the hotel. Taking his advice we rose to the challenge to ride in one of the local buses.

.It didn’t take long before a very old colorful single-decker bus pulled up. Climbing aboard I asked the young Rastafarian driver how much it was into town. I can’t remember the amount but let’s say 5 dollars for the two of us. I handed him a 20 dollar note, he just looked at it then said: “Change please” I assumed he wanted the exact 5 dollars. I apologised and explained we had just arrived etc. Without looking up at us he said, “Off my bus man!” The Reggie music coming from his radio was so loud I thought I misheard him at first but he repeated himself waving his hand at the open door. “OFF!” I tried to reason with him but to no avail. After leaving the bus we just stood there on the deserted pavement like two dejected backpackers watching the disco on wheels disappear into the distance. We grabbed a taxi deciding that we just weren’t local enough yet to use their bus service!

After a look around we decided that a cool drink was now needed . After finding a local cafe and ordering our drinks I started to read a tourist leaflet that I had picked up along the way about the history of Holetown: Holetown was first settlement in Barbados and was originally named Jamestown, after its benefactor, King James I of England. The first English landing in Barbados was in 1625.
It acquired the name "Holetown" because of the off loading and cleaning of ships in the very small channel located within the immediate vicinity of the town.


After returning to the Lone Star and still more than a little worried about my guest list I decided to take a walk along the beach to check out what was happening around us. It wasn’t long before I came across a small beach restaurant with a brilliant steel band providing the entertainment. I just sat for a while on the sand listening to them and when they were finished I introduced myself asking them if they might be interested in coming to the Lone Star on Monday to open my show. They were delighted and promised to be there in plenty of time to set up. With another guest secured I walked back to the hotel and spent the rest of Saturday with Wendy sunbathing and swimming. That night we were recommended a restaurant called the Cliff for dinner.

It is said that The Cliff is probably the best known and celebrity-frequented restaurant in Barbados. The open-air setting on a coral clifftop above a small cove and described as the "most romantic restaurants in the world' It's Split across different levels and dramatically lit by Olympian-style torches, there's not a bad table in the house.


I instantly fell in love with the restaurants stunning setting. The food was definitely Michelin standard. I remember sitting watching a passing cruise ship on the horizon with its fairy lights twinkling on all decks, I promised Wendy that one day I will take her on a cruise that will take us back to Barbados. Little did I know this promise would feature later in My Story but without Wendy and certainly not in a romantic way! But all that comes in a later chapter. After dinner the restaurant manager came over to offer use a drink on the house, I started to chat with him explaining what we were doing in Barbados etc and asked him if he knew of anyone presently staying or living in Barbados who would make a good guest. His eyes lit up as he suggested that perhaps Michael Holding the legendary Jamaican cricketer would be perfect for my show. Knowing how crazy the Caribbean people are about cricket I asked him if he knew how I could get get in touch with him. "Better than that!" He said; "he’s sitting over there." Pointing at a table close by. I immediately made my way over introduced myself by telling him what a big fan I was of his (Okay, Okay a little bit of exaggeration here, but a man has do what a man has to do!) I wasted no time in inviting him on my show and again I was delighted when he agreed. I made a mental note to read up on International cricket as I knew nothing about it.

When we got back to the hotel we decided on a quick nightcap before bed. Pattie Boyd was at the bar and invited us to join her and her boyfriend Rod Weston who had just flown in from UK. She suggested we join them tomorrow evening for a casual meal at a small bar in Holetown called Ragamuffins. She explained it was where everyone goes on a Sunday night from the local bus driver (don’t need to see him in a hurry!) to the wealthy banker. She said its great fun so we agreed to join them.


Sunday morning I was up before Wendy and decided an early morning swim in the warm Caribbean was the order of the day. As I made my way down the beach I noticed a number of Bajans (locals) washing themselves in the sea, all the women were wearing old fashion style shower caps chatting away as locals do over garden wall back home, made me smile!. I suppose it saves on hot tap water? After breakfast I had a call from Rory asking me would I mind doing a short photo call for the local press who wanted to run a report on my trip to Barbados. Of course I agreed hoping that it might attract more guests (Photo from Barbados Today)


That evening we met up with Pattie and Rod and took a taxi to Ragamuffins . The bar was exactly as Pattie described, very local with a cross section of clients. Just after a delicious plate of Jerk chicken and chips. I got the surprise of my life when suddenly from nowhere three women dressed in shocking pink mini skirts started miming to the Supremes hit ‘Baby Love’. An odd looking trio would be the best way to describe them; the one in the middle had to be all of 6ft 5in the other two were short and very muscular. Everybody were cheering and in floods of laughter. Pattie leaned over and said; “You know they are three men?” Of course I knew!!!!!



Here is a review from Tripadvisore: ‘Oh my if you want a slice of local fun, this is the place to be. The infamous ' drag show' on Sunday nights is so much fun, BUT do book way in advance. We were there this week with a host of celebrities like Cilla Black and Danni Minogue which was so much fun to see them getting down and having a great time. The food is pretty ropey but you are not going for that. You won’t starve at all but you will laugh your head off. The ' Girls' are amazing, so funny and it’s a really good show, something so different.'

Unfortunately there was no famous celebs that night but I did end up getting the three girls, sorry boys, to agree to come on my show. If anyone reading this is heading off to Barbados for the first time I highly recommend Sundays at Ragamuffins .

I awoke very early on Monday morning, slipping out of bed quietly so as not to disturb Wendy, I sat on the terrace watching the reflection of the most stunning sun rising on the very calm Caribbean sea. I only had one thing on my mind, it was that pile of junk sitting in our room,I just couldn't see how it was going to be technically possible to make it good enough for me to broadcast to Spain in a couple of hours.


The show was scheduled to go live at 1pm local that’s 7pm Spanish time. Rory had assured me that the Cable & Wireless engineers would be here latest by 10am to set up and test the connection. It was now 10:15am and not sight nor sound of them. By 10:30am and still nothing, I walked up to the Rory’s office to see if he could find out where the elusive engineers were. Rory, as usual, was calm as he assured me not to worry they would be here soon! By 11:30am I was breaking out in a cold sweat still looking at the pile of junk lying on the floor of the suit! At last there was a knock on my door, ‘thank goodness’ I thought as I opened the door only to find the members from the steel band arriving to set up. I brought them in and let them get on with it.
It was now approach 12pm with one hour to go. I had called the studios in Spain on the hour every hour explaining the situation to the engineers who were standing by to test the lines, this was turning into a disaster! My first guest ,the Turtle man, arrived followed by Pattie and Rod. Thankfully the hotel had set up a buffet table on my terrace with with various salads, mixed fresh fruits, coffee, tea, beer and soft drinks for the guests. I told Wendy just to keep them happy while I stayed inside panicking as I listened to the steel band hammer out a Caribbean version Holiday by Bonny M. (See the picture)

I hardly heard the the engineers from C&W knock on the door over the racket of the steel drums. With not an a apologies in sight in they walked as calm as cucumbers and without a word gathered up the junk and started sticking wires and plugs in everywhere!

I hoped Wendy was keeping my guests happy as I kept tapping my finger on my watch trying to let the engineers know that I was panicking . Then the guy fiddling with various nobs on the sound desk looked at me and calmly said “Sorry sir. We can’t make a connection with Spain.”

“Are you fucking kidding me!” I yelled, “What do you mean YOU can’t make a connection to Spain?” I was now practically in tears it was 12:55pm with 5 minutes to go and I was sure back in Spain the radio station was announcing that they would be going live shortly to the Boland Show coming from Barbados.

“There is no ISDN agreement between Spain and the Caribbean” explained a super cool engineer.

“You had over a fucking month before I came out here to find that fucking out!”

I then popped out still not letting my guests know about the panic going on behind the closed terrace doors.

“Who’s Julie?” asked one of the engineers as he popped his head around the sliding door.

I ran back inside “We have Julie connected now” smiled the man fiddling with the sound deck. Julie was driving my show back in Spain . They had connected exactly with 1 minute to go!!!!!

WE MADE IT !

In the picture below is Rory Rogers, The Lone Star manager and Pattie Boyd


It was only after the show that I find out they routed the ISDN connection through London. Clever lot the Cable & Wireless engineers are but I could have strangled them at the time.

Miracles do happen, well they did for me in Barbados! With that shaky start behind me we ended up with a faultless week of shows with some amazing guests. A final note to the trip; what should have been a free ISDN line connection ended up costing the Lone Star $12,000 for the five days of shows! I hope that didn’t contribute to the hotel going bust but thankfully it was taken over by British multi-millionaire David Whelan the owner of English Premier League club Wigan who became the new owner of the Lone Star Hotel and Restaurant after purchasing it for over US$13 million.

Here is the Lone Star's website: www.thelonestar.com

Here are a few more photos of Barbados


From left to right: One of the entertainers from Ragamuffins (she's a he!). Mr Cool, the engineer from Cable & Wireless. Wendy with Pattie Boyd.

My Story Chapter 22 coming shortly




No comments:

Post a Comment