Monday, 31 March 2014

Barbados .. hot and spicy!

If you've read my blog before you will know by now that I love Barbados and go at least once a year! It's such an easy place to be .. the people are friendly, the weather is always the same temperature (with a little rain thrown in from time to time) and the sun rises and sets at the same time every day .. twelve hours of night and twelve hours of daylight .. and it's usually sunny!  

On arrival at Grantley Adams airport the first thing you notice on stepping out the door of the aircraft is the warm air hitting your skin as you make your way down the steps onto the tarmac. There is no need to rush here...and we didn't! Unfortunately for us there was a bit of wait in the immigration queue as another flight had just pipped us to the post so we had a wait of around 45 minutes .. but a mere drop in the ocean compared to some of the waiting times I've had in the USA!  You have to accept that it is what it is and wait your turn. The upside was that our baggage had been unloaded from the carousel and ready to collect so we could just walk out the door.

Coconut Grove
We stayed on the south east of the island at the Crane resort .. far removed from the popular west coast where the super rich like to stay and where the majority of the resorts and restaurants are situated. The Crane is the Caribbean's first resort hotel. First opened in 1887 and now fully restored and expanded, this truly unique property combines old-world charm and incredible natural beauty with a romantic sense of seclusion. Crane beach is listed in the top 10 beaches in the world .. a gorgeous stretch of pinkish white sand .. perfect for that early morning walk or run. The beach is accessed by a staircase or glass fronted elevator.

The elevator was out of action the whole time we were there but we had already decided that we wouldn't use it to maintain a pretense of keeping fit!  

Being on the Atlantic side of the island there is always a breeze and the waves are playful and just right for body and kite surfing and boogie boarding. It is never overcrowded and there is a small picnic area in the coconut grove just to the rear of the beach with a bar and a limited menu for lunch. It was the most beautiful and peaceful setting .. I wish I had discovered it earlier in the week as it's not publicized very well .. although the guys in the towel hut do come around and take drink orders which they deliver to your lounger.

The resort is such that you don't have to leave if you don't want to. There are a few restuarants, a cafe, a general store and specialty shops and if you don't like the beach there are two pool areas. It's not a rowdy place and at night is very quiet and serene. For a livelier scene St Lawrence Gap on the south coast is not too far and if you want to go to the west side to eat a cab ride will take up to 40 minutes and cost around US$80 for a round trip. Most of the drivers who take you will wait and take you back for that price.  The food is always good, particularly if you like fresh fish. My favourite is mahi mahi and I have to admit to it being my first choice on most nights but done in a variety of ways .. cajun, grilled, fried, spiced .. always absolutely delicious! My lunch fave was salad and flying fish with a healthy dollop of Bajan hot sauce!
Pre dinner drinks at the Cliff

My recommended restaurants -
Zen St Philips
Cin Cin By the Sea St James
The Tides Holetown
Champers Christchurch
The Cliff St James

I'm already thinking about my return visit next year but I have other fish to fry first .. next stop a long weekend to the Middle East!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

It's time for another holiday!

I'm off for a little break to the sun in a few days time .. at least I'm counting on it being sunny but there's always a small possibility of rain. 

I never mind if it rains .. it's just great to be in the tropical warmth on the beach or by the pool with a long glass of something cold reading a book or just gazing out at the horizon. 

I'm so looking forward to the amazing food (fresh fish) and will have to make a concerted effort to get up relatively early every morning and work off a few calories jogging and walking along the beach otherwise I could come back with a little excess 'baggage'!

I'll post some pics on my HQ facebook page just to whet your appetite enough to go and plan your next holiday to your favourite place or somewhere you've never been before. New blog post when I get back with some hair and make up tips as well! Ciao!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

River Thames on a perfect spring day

The Millenium Bridge and St Pauls
Spring days don't come any better than this in London or anywhere else for that matter.  Perfect blue skies marked only by presence of the moon and clean, fresh air .. my idea of bliss.  

We had planned a day out to the Tate Modern and the Southbank anyway but it was pure luck that we got the best day of the year so far. London is a fabulous city and the longer I'm here the more I appreciate it.  I love the architecture and the mix of old and new .. the myriad of things to see and do and the people and cultures from all over the globe combine to make it a unique place to experience and visit.

The 'beach'
We took the Thames Clipper from Canary Wharf to Bankside which I try to do whenever I can. I so enjoy the calmness of being on the boat .. it's a lovely alternative to the bus and tube journey .. a little more expensive but I really recommend doing it at least once! After a spot of lunch on the sunny terrace of the Tate Modern we took a walk along the Southbank. 

Ice cream vendor Southbank
The whole area is a hive of tourists and locals alike strolling, skating, eating and drinking all the way down from the gallery to Waterloo station. The tide was out today so there was even a beach to enjoy by the river. If you don't like crowds it's best to go early as it gets very busy as the day goes on, whatever time of year!

View from the Bridge
After wiling away a couple of hours walking, browsing the book stalls and stopping for coffee we crossed the pedestrian bridge at Waterloo to Embankment and boarded the boat for our return journey to Canary Wharf. From there we took the bus home and decided to get off a couple of stops early to walk through Victoria Park. You would be forgiven for thinking there was a festival on as I have never seen the surrounding pubs and the park so full of people enjoying the early spring warmth and sunshine. Long may it last but even if it doesn't this day will stand out in my mind as one of the most stunningly beautiful days in mid March I can ever remember.