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Bequia, 2015

Updated: May 10, 2021

This is a note – or journal or memoir, whatever – of our three weeks in the Caribbean, escaping the cold and the rain of February. I am very conscious that the readership must be limited to a particularly select group, those with a consuming interest in the Herbert travels. Although, come to think of it, anyone planning a visit to Bequia might like to read it – to see if it puts them off, if nothing else.

Sunday 1 February

We start in Barbados, staying at the Dover Beach Hotel on the southern (not so posh) shore of the island. For the benefit of readers who don’t know our strategy, we stay for one or, this time, two nights in Barbados on the way to the island of Bequia, originally to avoid the perils of trying to connect with the local flight during the same day, but also to meet friends who go to Barbados but haven’t discovered the joys of Bequia.

The Dover Beach Hotel is fairly basic, its advantages being that it’s reasonably near the airport, very near some nice restaurants and not expensive. You might not want to spend much longer than a couple of nights there.

Our first evening was spent having dinner, at the very kind invitation of our Canadian friends Bill and Janet Rowley, at the superbly luxurious Coral Reef Club, located on the much posher western (Caribbean) side of the island, near the late Michael Winner’s haunt at Sandy Lane.

It’s fun to observe the way the clientele of the Coral Reef differs from that of the Dover Beach. The DB represents a fair cross-section of (largely British) tourists. This would be an inaccurate description of the Coral Reef. In the delightful bar area that we go into, we see ladies in their flowing, even floral dresses – yes, dresses – not seen much, I regret to say, even in Fulham; and the men in neatly ironed shirts and cotton trousers. To go in a T-shirt would risk the ghost of Mr Bateman emerging from the woodwork to do one of his famous cartoons.

But thinking of higher things, the food and service – including the dry martinis – are impeccable.

Monday 2 February

Breakfast this morning at the Dover Beach. I mustn’t run down the Dover Beach unduly, although the breakfast is basic (I’m finding it difficult to find another adjective): the eggs hard boiled, the bacon cold, the orange juice certainly not fresh – unlike even at Gatwick Airport, where they grow fewer orange trees than in Barbados.

However, there was a breakfast bonus. We found ourselves surrounded by hordes of athletic black guys in bright yellow kit. We befriended one – who looked authoritative. They were the football team from Guyana (formerly British Guyana, on the north coast of South America) who yesterday had played – and drawn – against the local Bajans. Our new friend turned out to be one of the team managers. He is half Guyanan/half English and lives on the Putney Bridge Road, commuting between there and Georgetown, Guyana. An interesting man: not a football player, more a businessman. Impressively, he has set up a call-centre in Guyana for British Gas, which he says, modestly, helps pay the rent.

Our dinner was at Champers, now that our friends, Anthony and Tulla Hacking, have arrived – where we go with them and the Rowleys. Champers is one of the restaurants down our end of the island, although it was new to us. Our favourite is Pisces, which has been closed for more than two years, apparently for refurbishment. Why has it taken so long? Will it ever open again? I walked along to investigate. Encouragingly, building work is now definitely in progress. The word is – via the taxi drivers – that they’ve had builder problems. It looks as though it could well be back in business next year. It is built right at the edge of the water, with the terrace of the restaurant looking over the waves and the beach. As it’s built of wood, this probably explains why they’ve had to rebuild the whole thing.

Anyway, Champers was a delight: uncannily similar to Pisces. Maybe slightly more formal, not quite so friendly, but very good food.

Wednesday 4 February

We are now installed in our apartment in Bequia. This is in the Village Apartments, run with great efficiency by the delightful George and Val Whitney, originally from Trinidad.

As soon as we arrived, we started to catch up with the local news and gossip: the walkway to the beach (below) is now finished; the Plantation House has been sold; trouble at the Frangi. As to all of which, carry on reading.

First, the walkway. There was a scandal a few years ago. You used to be able to walk over the small headland to the nearest beach, Princess Margaret Beach. Then some scoundrels built a house on the headland and blocked the way. Why was it allowed? Who knows? Things happen. But a year or so back, Richard Roxburgh and his charitable organisation, Action Bequia, took it in hand to build a new walkway. All sorts of problems had to be confronted: some locals didn’t like the idea (for impenetrable reasons); some taxi drivers thought they’d lose business (more understandable); all sorts of “elf & safety” concerns – none of which had worried people when we crossed the headland by the much rougher goat track. But now, it’s all done: a new wooden staircase built on to the cliff face, going down to sea level; then you go along a newly built concrete walkway round the rest of the headland and onto the beach. Great!

A word about Action Bequia. Richard calls himself the “catalyst”, sensibly not appearing to assume the role of Boss – which is what, frankly, he is. He is a successful businessman (English) who has a yacht here and has built a massive house on the island. The house is concrete, definitely not in traditional style, very modern, wonderful on the inside with its truly spectacular views, curious to say the least on the outside. But Richard has established Action Bequia as a charity (motto: “Actions speak louder than Words”) to do things that frankly the local government should do, but can’t as they’ve got no money – and anyway the government is run from the neighbouring island St Vincent (referred to on Bequia as the “mainland”) which ignores Bequia. So, Action Bequia has done great things: rebuilt the original walkway along the harbour front; built the new one I’ve just mentioned; sorted out a central drainage crisis (much needed); now we’re on to recycling.

Other gossip - the Plantation House, which as its name implies is a lovely colonial-style house on the harbour front, has been slowly decaying for many years. It has been owned by unidentified and mysterious Italians, some or all of whom have been said to be in jail. Before decay really started setting in, they ran an excellent Italian restaurant – at which (natch) only cash was accepted. But now it has been bought by a New Zealander called Kelly. Rumours still abound that litigation is ongoing. But Kelly, who I spoke to briefly, is confident that work is going ahead and that it should be opening soon.

Next piece of gossip – trouble at the Frangi. The Frangipani Hotel (left) is an integral part of Bequia and of its history. It has a central position on the harbour front; and is owned by the Mitchell family, the paterfamilias being Sir James Mitchell who used to be prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines (of which Bequia is part). He is still an amiable presence in and around the place and is known by most (other than me) as “Son”. I find it difficult to call prime ministers – even ex ones – Son. The hotel is now run by his elegant daughter Sabrina. The delightful staff are disaffected. People say that the hotel is bust – staff not paid, cheques bouncing, and so on. Certainly the place lacks the vibrancy it once had.

Bernadette (right) , the lovely friendly manager of the bar, told me that, if it wasn’t for us and our friends coming in February every year, she would have left.

This evening we start the Reading Group (above left). A much-needed word of explanation for new readers! Some years ago, an American friend, John Hay, who we’ve been seeing for as many years as we’ve been coming here, was talking to me about the books he’d brought with him. I confessed that I’d brought some that I was sure I’d never get round to reading. One of these was Homer’s Iliad. “But why don’t we have a reading group and read it aloud?” said John. And we did just that. Over the years we covered the classics such as the Odyssey and even Virgil, but when we got bored with that, we decided (this year, in fact) to go for short stories. I’m planning to kick off with Maupassant. We’ll see how it goes. I should perhaps add that I have always done the reading, no other volunteers having formed up! Other members include Mary, of course, John and Carol Hay, and our very good German friend Gerhard, who has been coming to Bequia for 40 years (and who has announced to our dismay that this time is his last). The group is often joined by the ex-PM.

Then dinner at Nando’s (Fernando’s Hideaway, in full), one of the old favourites of everyone on the island. Nando is an elderly local (once married to Anna, a Canadian, who we know and is often around) who goes fishing in the early morning and does the cooking. Front of house is a combo of his two sisters, Aggie and Phelisia. Their lilting sing-song recitation of the (almost unchanging) menu is one of the joys of the restaurant. The day will come when the starter is NOT callallou soup and the deserts do NOT include rum-raisin ice cream. Food is always excellent; service prompt and homely. There may be nowhere else in the Caribbean where you can get roast lamb and mint sauce (“the lamb sliced thinly, with gravy”, as Aggie explains).

Thursday 5 February

First, to report on Maupassant. The one I chose was A Parisian Affair, about the bored wife of a boring solicitor (a loose translation, I’m sure, as they don’t have such animals in France – and could a solicitor be boring?) who decides to have an evening – and night – of wickedness in Paris. I may go back to Maupassant tonight. The general consensus was that it’s much better than Homer!

The daily routine is to go to one of the beaches – today Princess Margaret. I go on the great new walkway, which seems to be called the Princess Point Trail, to deter the frail and elderly. Mary goes by water taxi, keeping Macarthy in business. We were originally introduced to Macarthy, probably the oldest of the water taxi drivers, by Harold Kuhn, an immensely distinguished mathematician from Princeton who started coming to Bequia some 30 years ago and who sadly died in July last year. Harold was involved with the development of “game theory” and worked with John Nash, portrayed by Russell Crowe in The Beautiful Mind.

Lunch at Jack’s Bar on Princess Margaret Beach. More island rumours! Jack’s Bar is the creation of a Swedish couple, Lars and Margaret, who have also run other restaurants on the island, including the Devil’s Table – all good. But this year the Devil’s Table has been taken over by others. The rumour machine has it that Jack’s Bar is for sale and that Lars and Margaret are being sued (or thrown off the island, depending on which rumour you hear) for not paying their rent and/or taxes. Despite all this, the Chicken Caesar Salad was right up to scratch.

Thursday evening is the evening for the Frangi “Jump-Up”. This is a barbecue, followed by very informal dancing, for them as like, to a steel band that plays music that almost discourages dancing – quite a feat.

We had persuaded the Hackings to join us, despite their un-keenness on trying to talk over the steel drums. But it all got out of hand. The ex-PM asked the Hackings – and us – to join him, plus a South African lawyer and his wife. As we were sitting down, it turned out that the South African couple couldn’t make it. So, we had Son Mitchell on the subject of his great victory at the Privy Council in London at the end of last year.

Those with a faltering interest in the intricacies of St Vincent politics and the Privy Council can skip this paragraph. Son, when PM in the 90s, had been instrumental in pushing through the development of a marina on St Vincent with funding supported by export credit guarantees from the Italian government. The development was fraught in various ways, but Son maintains that the marina functions profitably. Son has been accused of all sorts of negligence in his handling of the negotiations. The present government, which comes from a different party to Son’s and defeated him at the election some 15 years ago, set up an inquiry led by a Caribbean judge who Son maintains is hopelessly biased against him. Son has spent the last 12 years in litigation. It ended last December when the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (still the final court of appeal from St Vincent) decided in his favour and ruled that the errant judge should take no further part in the inquiry and should pay Son’s legal costs. Champagne all round!

Friday 6 February

The news this morning is that there was a burglary from a guest room at the Frangi. A burglar managed to get in and steel a mobile phone and some money while the lady guest was asleep. We feel, touching all the available wood, that our apartments in the Village Apartments are more secure. We had a similar burglary when we stayed at the Frangi some years ago. We had unwisely left windows open, relying (if we thought about it) on the security guard employed to wander around the grounds all night. I remember later finding him asleep and wondering if he shouldn’t be found other tasks. Maybe he’s still in office.

Saturday 7 February

Rain. This is now in danger of becoming a weather bulletin. Sorry.

Last night, Maupassant had to move from the balcony down to the TV room, because of pouring rain. Overnight nothing dried out. This morning more rain – drizzle actually.

All this is pretty unusual – although people (that is people who haven’t been here) often have a misleading impression of what Caribbean weather is like; much influenced by brochures with pictures of sunny beaches and cloudless skies. The reality is that there is plenty of sunshine, of course, and it’s always warm – about 28 centigrade. But there’s also rain from time to time. Sometimes you get no rain for days and even weeks (to the dismay of the locals). But more normal in our experience is the occasional heavy shower – followed by bright warm sunshine. However, this year there has been a lot more cloud and rain, even drizzle, than we bargain for. The locals are delighted. There is no water supply on the island, apart from collected rain. So the tanks are presumably full.

We started on a Sherlock Holmes story this evening – perhaps the most famous of all, the Adventure of the Speckled Band.

Sunday 8 February

Today starts with a typically Bequia drama: no electricity, presumably throughout the island. So, no fans or aircon, obviously. But also no water as it all has to be pumped up from the tanks. On my walk into town I see a man up a pylon beavering away. Apparently the power has been switched off so that he can do some work on the power lines. It will all be back in a couple of hours – which it is.

The power is back in time for the great annual auction in aid of the local Sunshine Primary School. This used to be run by the redoubtable Nicola. But a few years ago there was a falling-out. She is no longer to be seen at the auction. It is now run by a robust, no-nonsense, but jovial American, who gets through it all quicker than I think Nicola ever did.

For supper we go with our friends from North Carolina, Ron and Steve (who we first met 14 years ago on our first visit to Bequia), to the Gingerbread. The Gingerbread is next door to the Frangi and owned by Pat, the Canadian ex-wife of Son Mitchell. It has the worst food on the island; and most of the things on the menu seem to be off. Why ever do we go there? The reason is that Sunday night is the night for music by “J Gould and De Reel Ting”.

J Gould’s father and grandfather were allegedly the same person – work that one out! His band consists of two guitars, a banjo, and J Gould himself as the lead singer on the tambourine. J Gould is about 4 ft 6 in, wears a baseball cap and appears to be high on a cocktail of substances - presumably including rum, but certainly also including regular supplies of beer. His manic performance and largely unintelligible lyrics defy description, but draw the crowds.

Monday 9 February

This morning I make an amazing discovery: a proper cappuccino. The coffee at the Frangi is not high quality; our German friend Gerhard calls it rat poison, which is perhaps a bit tough. But espresso is hard to come by. But now, a new café has been opened, the Chameleon, run by Lee and Tom (she originally from South Africa, but then Australia), who have very strong views about grinding their own coffee beans. And it shows.

They plan to do croissants. What joy! But so far their oven doesn’t come up to their high standards. So I go to Doris. Doris is an island institution. She runs a tiny supermarket that sets out to serve the foreign customers, probably largely from the yachts that come into Bequia for supplies, as they have for years. Her stocks are amazing – probably even including marmite. But I have discovered that she does croissants and pain au chocolat, all baked on the premises. Not up to Beaumes de Venise standards, but let’s see what the Chameleon can do.

The reading group moved from Sherlock Holmes to Chekhov this evening – The Lady with the Little Dog.

Tuesday 10 February

This entry needs a health warning or, more precisely, a political correctness warning.

It concerns a racist dog called Bullet who wanders around on Lower Bay Beach, befriending Caucasian sun-worshippers. Bullet has a problem (as many local dogs do) with the local, non-Caucasian human beings. But this afternoon he became paranoid and started barking his head off whenever Hayden appeared. Hayden is the guy who looks after the loungers outside the De Reef beach restaurant. Hayden is certainly “of colour” (as Benedict Cumberbatch and others have learnt to say) but also has a wild head of Rastafarian hair, which is perhaps what Bullet really takes exception to. The delightful Hayden takes it all remarkably calmly.

The De Reef restaurant operates to a slow-moving timetable that we have never got used to. They do delicious lobster and tuna salads and sandwiches. But the time it takes to get them never gets better. We ordered a sandwich and a salad, which took 55 minutes to arrive. The result is that, when on Lower Bay, we tend to patronise Bee’s Café, run by the friendly Audrey, even though her menu is essentially limited to tiny cheese and ham sandwiches toasted in a machine. Modest fare, modestly priced.

This evening we go to Jack’s Bar for their equivalent of the Frangi Jump-Up. Frankly, much better and much more fun. Lars and Margaret were presiding, looking as unlike fugitives as it is possible to imagine. We sat at a table with Martin Price, a widower and captain of a prestigious golf club in Norfolk, who takes a house on the island and, having lived for many years on Barbuda (running a hotel), likes to surprise the locals by speaking a version of the local patois. He is with his relatively new-found companion or girlfriend, Gilly, a divorcee who lives in Sydney – facing the complexities of sharing a life between Norfolk, Bequia and Sydney.

Wednesday 11 February

Having finished the Chekhov story, we now move back to England with Somerset Maugham – Mr Know-All.

We had supper with the Hackings and talked – among other things – about the troubles at the Frangi.

Anthony shocked me by saying that he thought that Bequia was getting worse, that it was in decline. I took him up on it as I think, on balance, things are definitely improving: the new walkway; all the other projects of Action Bequia; better restaurants; the new café serving proper espresso coffee for the first time; and also, remarkably, the roads are freer of rubbish. There is certainly one important exception: the Frangipani Hotel and, indeed, the restaurant at the Gingerbread, both (I have to say) run by Sabrina Mitchell. Anthony and Tulla are staying at the Frangi, so it’s understandable that this colours their view of the whole place. And it is important as it’s so central, geographically and in other ways, to the whole life of the island. What can be done? Does it need a massive rebuilding programme? Or does it just need tarting up? I plan to talk to Martin Price about it, as he used to be in the business.

Martin has very kindly invited us, and the Hackings, to lunch at the splendid house he and Gilly take when they come to Bequia. After our dip in the pool, sipping our pre-lunch drinks, I ask him the questions. Perfectly simple, he says: get a warm, out-going, welcoming manager, who must be around a lot; train the staff to be warm, out-going and welcoming – and of course efficient; and make the menus more exciting. No need for any rebuilding. It’s in a prime position. It’s all down to the people.

All perfectly simple. But as Martin knows only too well, it won’t happen. The Frangi is owned by Son Mitchell and he’s not about to sack his beloved daughter – until, I guess, the excrement really does start to hit the airconditioning.

Thursday 12 February

In the reading group, I stick with Somerset Maugham – the String of Beads, which is uncannily like one of the Maupassant stories. It was a great success – calls for more Somerset Maugham. Despite this, I may try a Saki tomorrow.

Friday 13 February

Great excitement on Lower Bay. Alan, the ex-policeman, (he, in pole position, below) sees a manta ray swimming about 25 yards off the beach.

Alan spends many months in Bequia, with his local-born wife (possibly not his first), moving back to England in April or May, before spending the summer in Mallorca. The life of an ex-policeman is more exotic than you might have supposed.

Alan spends much of each day sitting on his beach chair, chatting to his mates, with a pair of binoculars round his neck, resting gently on his enbonpoint (I feel paunch would be rude). He is a great expert on what boats come and go, aided by an App that tells you who owns them.

But this morning, he put on his snorkelling gear and went into the water faster than you might have thought possible. He had seen the dark shape of a manta ray in the water. He was able to go out swimming over and round it, taking some magnificent movie film of it on his underwater camera.

A manta ray, we all learn, is not to be confused with its distant cousin, the highly dangerous sting ray. Although Alan’s manta was about 10 foot across, it is quite harmless, feeding on amazing quantities of plankton and crill. Until recently they were feared because of their enormous size and referred to as the “Devil fish”. But now you go up to them and take photographs.

As foreshadowed, we do a Saki story this evening – Tobermory, perhaps his best known. It’s about a cat that has been taught to speak – but not to be discreet about what it says. Next week, I may go back to Somerset Maugham or, perhaps, Maupassant.

Today we are joined by the group we think of as the Quartet, as the four of them have been coming to Bequia for at least as long as we have, although often not at quite the same time as us. They are: Nick Forwood, one of the English judges at the European Court in Luxembourg, who with his wife Sally lives in Luxembourg; and Bruce and Sara Mauleverer, Bruce having been with Nick at the Bar.

Saturday 14 February

Today we go to Princess Margaret Beach. Mary for the first time braves the new walkway – with no difficulty. I had always assured Macarthy, the water taxi man (and one of the enemies of the walkway), that he could at least be sure that he wouldn’t be loosing Mary’s valued custom. Oh dear, poor Macarthy! But, as Mary correctly says, we aren’t there to keep Macarthy in business and, anyway, he has a thriving trade selling bread and other things to the yachts moored in the harbour.

Some surprising wildlife on the beach. We hire loungers from Fay, who also has a beach stall selling soft drinks. She has drawn a small crowd together to look at a snake curled up in the tree above her stall. It’s very hard to see, well camouflaged as it is. Fay says that it is a Grenadine tree snake, harmless to humans. It comes down every few days, helps itself to a mouse or a rat, and retreats back up the tree to digest it over the coming days. But one of her regular customers is phased by the thought of a snake – even non-venomous – looking down at her. So Fay will be getting her husband to dislodge it and throw it into the bushes.

Tonight we go to a Valentine’s Day Dinner in aid of Action Bequia. It’s at the Bequia Beach Hotel, constructed and run by a Swedish lawyer and property man called Bengt Morstedt. The hotel is easily the best on the island – in fact the only one that really ranks with leading tourist hotels. It gets good marks with the likes of TripAdvisor. Bengt has donated all the food and either he or Sabrina (or both) have donated the drink, so all of the 250 EC a head (about £65) goes to the good cause.

Sunday 15 February

Today has been cloudy and showery. We walked back from the beach getting mildly soaked. Needless to say, the sun is now out.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – 16-18 February

I’m running out of things to say.

The routine is now well established. I wake up with the sunrise at about 6.30 and read the paper on our balcony. The paper can be downloaded onto the iPad with no problem. I have to say that it all seems less interesting from a distance.

Breakfast at the Frangi, me not having much, to leave room for my coffee and croissant at the new café. Breakfast is largely about meeting the group.

Then some painting. I’ve done a study of a tree with long bright yellow leaves dangling down artistically. Quite Caribbean and fun to do. How will it look in SW6 or even in Beaumes de Venise, I ask myself.

Mary goes down to the beach, having made one of the key decisions of the day: is it Princess Margaret (the nearest)? Or Lower Bay (the farthest) by taxi? Normally Lower Bay.

I walk to whichever we’ve selected. A 15 minute walk over the first headland, by way of the new walkway, into Princess Margaret beach (named after her because she landed there from Mustique decades ago and spent a few minutes or hours there – who knows?). Then maybe another 15-20 minute walk along the beach and over the next headland into Lower Bay.

Lower Bay involves more swimming. It’s about half a mile wide. Tulla strides from one end to the other and swims the whole way back, Mary joining her for the last bit. This gets repeated in the afternoon, with me joining the swim – slightly faster as I don’t chat at the same time.

In mid-afternoon, it’s back to the apartment for a shower and a cool-down in the aircon – which feels like the best part of the day.

I then have to select the story for the evening reading at 6.00. The choice has been between Maupassant, Chekhov, Sherlock Holmes, Somerset Maugham and Saki. Somerset Maugham was popular. But many of them seem to me to be cold little stories – clever but soulless. I tend to steer them towards Maupassant, who likes a bit of passion, often illicit. We haven’t normally been able to do much Sherlock Holmes as they take at least two evenings, which makes them hard to fit in. I had wanted to do the Book of Ruth from the Old Testament, but didn’t dare push it. Similarly the story of Susanna and the Elders from the Apocrypha, much illustrated by the likes of Rubens, but again I didn’t quite dare – it’s the naughtiest of the lot.

After the reading, we head off in different directions to dinner. And so to bed, as Samuel Pepys used famously to write.

Friday 20 February

I have another fairly regular habit, as yet unrecorded. On my way to coffee, I pass by the fruit and vegetable stall run by Darkie (I haven’t had the courage to call her that to her face). I ask Darkie to select a ripe pineapple. To her credit, if none are ripe (I can’t really tell), she tells me to come back tomorrow. She peels them and cuts them up into bite size chunks. Very refreshing when you get back in the afternoon.

I was taken aback by Darkie’s prices. I paid over 30 EC (nearly £10) for a big one. People have said that they are always expensive. Since then, I discovered that the price is normally 12 EC (about £4) a pound. I don’t believe in bargaining in the Caribbean, but I have to say that, pursuing my researches since our return, I find that Waitrose sells a big pineapple at £1.85 – and that’s even “fair trade”, which I understand means paying local producers a fair price. So Darkie has a mark-up that Waitrose can only dream of.

More purchases on the beach. The Quartet have each got a necklace with a whale tooth hanging down like a medallion. Bruce says that it’s the equivalent of the club tie and can be acquired from Willy on Princess Margaret Beach. Willy is a fine man and he assures us that the whale was caught in environmentally acceptable conditions and that the beautifully polished coral that the tooth is set into was washed up onto the beach. We buy one each – and also buy one for Gerhard – and feel that our green credentials are unimpaired.

Saturday 21 February

We are met at breakfast with news of a tragedy. An English couple of advanced age and suffering from all sorts of ailments, exacerbated in the case of the wife by extreme obesity, have been regular visitors over the years – although we have (shamefully) always avoided them. In previous years he has appeared to be the carer, helping her to manoeuvre herself around with immense difficulty. But this year he also seemed to be struggling – with shingles among other things, we understood. This morning the news came through that he had died yesterday. He had been transported to hospital in St Vincent, where he died. She is now in urgent need of help. Pat Mitchell, the owner of the Gingerbread, where they stay, is trying to get one or more of their children to come out immediately. The word initially had been that they couldn’t afford to, but two sons arrived a day or two later. Our only contribution was to suggest that they contact a local girl called Katisha, who we knew to be a nurse by training, currently working at the new Café Chameleon and keen to earn a bit of extra money.

Sunday 22 February

The Quartet leave today. We have further discussions about the Frangi and its problems. They have decided to write a letter to Son and Sabrina setting out their views. We saw their letter before it went. It’s written in a very kind, supportive and positive way, but pulls no punches, listing all the points, from lack of management (the main one) through to bed bugs and the fact that the lock on a loo was broken last year and still is . . . The big question is whether anything will happen. But they say in their letter that they are coming back next year. It must be difficult for Sabrina to contemplate welcoming them next year and having to say that nothing has changed. But it is easy to guess that things like the lock on the loo will have been repaired, but that the big issue will still be unaddressed. We have booked up our apartment at the Village Apartments for next year. We will see – and report further.

Tony Herbert

27 February 2015

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