“That’s Life” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Long-time /regular readers of this blog will know that I put editions out now a lot less frequently than I once did. In fact one might say that when the build of our house here on Ambergris Caye was taking place I was quite prolific. Some days I put two editions out !

With the completion of the build (and maybe the fact that I’m a couple more years older) I’ve slowed down considerably. When I started the blog I was, perhaps, somewhat like the hare. Now ? Decidedly more like the tortoise!

I now tend to put out an edition or two when Rose and I take a trip away from the island but even that doesn’t always whet the creative juices (creative juices ! Who do I think I’m kidding ?) .

We went to Nashville (yep, there again ) a few weeks ago and when we got back I fully intended to ‘knock out ‘ an edition or two but I never quite got around to it . Until now !

So what brought about this seismic change (well it’s seismic in my little world ) you’re wondering. You are, aren’t you ?

Well, two things actually but I’ll get to them in more detail eventually. .

Just before we departed for our trip we noticed that Ziggy ( if you’re a first time reader , Ziggy is the four legged, furry member of our family) had a little spot on his nose.

We thought no more about the spot, packed our suitcases, dropped Ziggy off at his chosen holiday hotel, Pampered Paws and made our way to Nashville. Yee-haw (did I really just type that ????).

We only spent six nights there but managed to cram in quite a lot . We ‘hit’ loads of music bars

and we did some shopping (when you are away from the island you just HAVE TO ) .

We ate at some nice restaurants .

We found, and frequented, a British themed pub.

And we got to see Patrick Mahomes live when we went to watch the Tennessee Titans play the Kansas City Chiefs .

The Nissan Stadium (home of the ‘Titans) in the background.

Found our seats.

Game on.

Billy Ray Cyrus proving the half-time entertainment.

Game over. Victory for the ‘Titans following an intentional grounding by the ‘Chiefs (see how effortlessly the terminology rolls off my keypad ) .

I felt sorry for the ‘Chiefs’ fans. We’d seen and spoke to a good number of them during the days leading up to the game. They’d virtually ‘taken over’ Downtown Nashville which became a sea of red.

All too soon our six night stay in Nashville was over and it was time to head home. We are luckier than most though so it’s never a major disappointment when a holiday (vacation for non-UK readers ) ends and we have to head home.

Our joy of returning to Ambergris Caye was brought to sudden jolt when we collected Ziggy. The little spot was a discoloured bump .

The next morning after breakfast at Estel’s Dine By the Sea (is there anywhere else !) I ‘phoned the San Pedro Animal Hospital to find out if the new Veterinarian Surgeon had joined the practice. She had, so I booked an appointment for the next day for Ziggy to be examined by Doctor Amber Hinson. ‘Tomorrow’ couldn’t come soon enough for Rose and I .

Ziggy seemed edgier than normal when we entered the waiting room. He is always somewhat restless when we go to the Hospital. I suppose because his visits invariably result in an injection eg vaccination time, teeth cleaning, etc But this time he seemed more anxious.

A quick examination by the Doctor and unfortunately we got the news we didn’t want. Ziggy had a tumour and for him to have a chance of survival he needed surgery. So we booked him in for three days later. And while he was in there we were going to have the lipoma on his leg removed. It had been irritating him for some while and he was constantly chewing his leg .

He was there all day and when we collected him he looked pretty beaten up.

The patient resting .

We then had a very anxious eight days during which we researched veterinary chemotherapy clinics in Houston whilst we waited for the results of the biopsy. When the call came from Doctor Amber I answered it with trepidation. She obviously sensed this and virtually immediately stated ” We’ve got the results. It’s benign “.

The second really nice thing (remember all that time ago I mentioned that two things occurred that encouraged me to write this edition ) that happened to me took place a few days before we got the result of the biopsy.

I arrived at Estel’s expecting to see my normal sight.

No, not that, but this .

MY table awaiting me.

The reserved sign was on the table but there was someone sitting there at MY table with a mug of coffee in front of him . I was about to sit at an adjacent table when the guy got up. “John ?” he exclaimed . “Yes”, I replied. “Hi, I’m Anton from Toronto, I’ve been reading your blog for years. You’re the reason I’m here now”. Whilst he was saying all of this he was picking up his mug, milk, spoon and serviette from the table, My table that is.

He then walked to the table I was about to sit down at and placed the mug, etc on it. “Please take your table ” he said. So I did. Normality resumed !

We spent some time talking and most of the conversation centered around Anton’s visit and his plans to acquire land and build on it. Anton eventually bade me goodbye and he went on his way. I eventually ordered (I don’t really need to order it, they know what I want) my breakfast and ate it. I got a really nice surprise, however, when I went to pay. ” No need “, said Sam, “The gentleman you were talking to paid “.

Anton did the same thing a few days later. Thank you Anton.

Last week we had Ziggy’s stitches removed.

Healing very nicely.

And the scar on the nose is barely discernible.

Well now you know what the catalysts were to ‘encourage’ me to write this edition.

That’s life in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

The headline for this eagerly awaited edition (smell the coffee John, no one has missed you ) is based upon the single released in 1966 by Frank Sinatra which reached number 44 on the UK Singles Chart and number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Under Pressure “ in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

With out trip to Buenos Aries, Argentina and Montevideo,Uruguay nearing its conclusion we still had a few more things to do from my list.

I obviously (what true football fan – and I mean FOOTBALL – wouldn’t ) wanted to visit the Estadio Alberto J. Armando, otherwise known as La Bombonera . And Rose did too, which helped !

But first we spent a little time wandering around Caminito the area where the Italian immigrants lived when they first moved to Buenos Aries.

Have your photo taken with the dogs and make a donation to the local dog shelter!

Bored watching the tango ? Watch a grill master at work instead.

And a pair of doors that have seen much better days.

The aroma eventually got to us. Our resolve weakened. And then it just disappeared. We just had to have a choripán (a sausage sandwich, if you must know ).

Caminito is the area in which La Bombonera is located so we didn’t have far to walk although it took a little while to get there because we met celebrities on the way.

With the greatest talent in the world at one time (in my opinion ) Juan Román Riquelme .

And the current little Maestro.

No, not me, I mean Messi !

“Oh please Mr Messi can I have your autograph?”.

And then we saw it, La Bombonera.

So we joined the queue (they do love a queue in Argentina)paid the entrance fee, got our wristband

and waited for the tour to start.

And we’re off.

In the words of Marquinhos (he plays for Paris Saint Germain and Brazil) “You can’t play, it’s a pressure cooker “. When you walk around the place and soak up the atmosphere and see the signs and trophies you just know that opposing teams know that they are going to be under pressure.

The Away team changing room

The Maradona Wall.

Statue of Maradona.

For our final night I had planned ahead and made a reservation at a restaurant I’d come across when researching our trip, Crizia had received rave reviews . And we found out why. The food was good, very good.

We chose oysters to start

followed by

Pappardelle and scallops for Rose and

Patagonian braised lamb for me.

I still had a little room so I followed up with

Rose did though find room for these – yes, both of them!

One down,one to go.

And she’s done it.

The next day after a little walk around and a couple of

it was time to take our taxi ride to the airport .

Goodbye Buenos Aires. Thank you for a great time.

The headline for this edition, the last one in the series , is based upon the single released in 1989 by Queen which reached number 1 on the UK Singles Chart and number 29 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

“My List” in Buenos Aries, Argentina.

Those of you that have been reading this series of blogs about the visit Rose and I recently made to Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo,Uruguay have probably surmised that there are lots of things to do. So much so that you wonder if you can fit them all in. We didn’t but we came very close.

Obviously we had Café Tortoni on our list and knew that it would be popular but we didn’t expect to see this

when we got there. But hey, we joined the queue and in just over thirty minutes we were at our table.

While I was checking the menu out Rose did a bit of exploring (or more impolitely described as snooping ) and ‘found’ herself in a room adjoining the restaurant! She just happened to have her iPhone with her.

But back to the restaurant. I chose toasted pita bread with ham and cheese.

Washed down with a pint of Quilmes.

Café Tortoni, Argentina’s equivalent of London’s Hotel Café Royal .

I’m the one in the tan jacket.

Rose is the pretty one !

Next was a little walk around a supermarket. This is always on my list !

Loads of virtually ready to eat stuff.

Look at the prices. US$ 1 = 42 Argentina Pesos . The steak above at just below US$ 6!

Next on my list (and Rose’s for that matter) was a night of tango. Watching it, not doing it. Bad foot and all that!

I researched online but didn’t find anything that convinced me I should book so in the end we asked Ignur, the hotel’s Concierge. La Ventana she said. So we asked her to book for us . She did. And we went. It was fantastic.

A really, really good mojito . Nearly as good as when in Cuba. Or when Ernie (he of Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar fame – now that should get me a free drink. Or three !) makes one.

Considering the number of people to serve it wasn’t a bad menu.

And the food

And to ‘”wash it down” a half bottle of wine each.

With the plates cleared away we just had time for a photo

before the show began .

A really entertaining show and at US$ 100 each it is great value .

The headline for this edition, the penultimate one in this series , is based on the single released in 2002 by Toby Keith which reached number 1 on US Hot Country Songs and Number 26 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

“A Kind of Magic “ in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

After the previous day’s Brush with the ‘wild’ we elected to go for a more sedate almost ethereal day. And we started off by visiting the Museo de Arte Latinamericano .

We obviously weren’t alone in thinking this would be an interesting way to spend some time because when we got there we were ‘greeted’ by a long queue.

Being British I’m used to queuing (it’s a ‘skill’ , just like riding a bike, that you apparently never lose) so we stood in line and shuffled forward every five or so minutes.

We shuffled along for quite awhile but eventually got to the ticket desk, paid the entrance fee and put my backpack in storage. We were ready to go!

And then the ‘star’ of the exhibition, a Frida Kahlo self-portrait .

And one by her husband, Diego Rivera .

We then took the escalator

up to the Leandro Erlich exhibition. You see this guy’s ‘stuff’ and your mouth drops open. It’s a kind of magic !

The famous Swimming Pool.

So we ‘jumped in’ too.

And how about these for selfies ?

Continuing in the arty vein our next stop was Teatro Cólon .

Very grand exterior but the interior took it to another level .

A mosaic floor that took twenty years to complete. And Rose thinks I’m slow !

Cupid whispering a secret to his mother Venus in the Salon de Bustos (Hall of Busts).

Franz Liszt.

And then in to the theater.

Behind the grating widows would watch and listen to performances during their mourning period.

For the evening I’d tried to book a reservation online for a table for two for dinner at the highly recommended Don Julio . I was unsuccessful instead I was requested to just “turn up at the restaurant”. So around 19.00 hours that evening that is exactly what Rose and I did. Only to be advised that there was a three hour wait for a table! I knew it was popular but …

So we walked down the road for a few minutes and found La Choza de Gasgon

which was very busy too but we managed to grab two seats at the bar from where we were able to see our dinner being cooked.

A perfect end to a magical day .

The headline for this edition is based on the single released in 1986 by Queen which reached number 3 on the UK Singles Chart and number 42 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Rose Garden “ in Buenos Aries, Argentina.

After our little excursion to Montevideo, Uruguay we had a refreshing night’s sleep back out our hotel in Buenos Aires and following breakfast were ready to pound the streets. On this day we were going back to nature !

But before that I have to own up that I forgot to mention that when we were in Montevideo Rose met Carlos Gardel (he of tango fame ) .

A bit too familiar if you ask me.

Anyway, back to Buenos Aires and our first stop was Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays .

Next stop was Ecoparque

A lovely setting but what was really neat was to see the animals wandering around freely.

The Patagonian Mara .

Next stop was Paseo El Rosedal (Rose Garden ).

And then we saw it. The roses were being pruned in readiness for Spring.

Rose turned and looked at me dejectedly. I looked at her and said (you know what’s coming ,don’t you ) “Oh come on Rose, I never promised you a rose garden ” (probably my worst link ever – you decide).

Before we left the garden we did manage to see a few roses I’m pleased to say. Nothing like they would be in the Spring and Summer but …

Free hot water for the mate drinkers.

Our walk was brought to a sudden halt when the rain came tumbling down. We managed though to find a dry haven !

Well nearly dry.

Two pints of Quilmes , an indigenous beer, on a promotional day. US$ 2.50 for them both !

This scintillating series continues with our further adventures in Buenos Aires. I’m getting excited just thinking about it !

The headline for this edition is based on the single released in 1970 by Lynn Anderson which reached number 3 on both the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Red Red Wine” in Montevideo ,Uruguay.

In the last few editions I’ve blathered on about making a trip from Buenos Aires to Montevideo, Uruguay. Well in this edition “we” do get to go!

As I’ve already told you, when I made arrangements for our accommodation in Buenos Aires I also booked our stay at the Crystal Tower Hotel in Montevideo .

Now we were in Argentina all I had to decide with Rose was what route we would take to get there and we had three options that I was aware of :

  • We could fly there (45 minute flight time) from either of Buenos Aires’ airports for between US$ 215 to 260 return per person . The available flight times remains were not particularly good though.
  • We could take the Buquebus direct ferry (2 hours and 30 minutes crossing time) for around US$ 575 return per person or
  • Take the Colonia Express ferry to Colonia and by coach to Montevideo (total journey time of 4 hours and 45 minutes) for US$ 93 return per person.
  • We elected to take the least expensive option and I made the booking online for the ferry departing at 08.5 hours.
  • We then made arrangements with hotel to store our suitcases while we were away, a taxi to pick us up and take us to the port (you gave to arrive at least 90 minutes before ferry departure ) and an early morning call.

    We both woke up well in advance of the wake-up call and after showering and dressing ate a very early breakfast which the hotel had kindly organised for us and were in our way by 06.00 hours for the twenty minute taxi ride

    all the taxis are yellow and black and all operate with meters

    to the Colonia Express terminal.

    As soon as the check in desk opened (we were early) we very quickly got our tickets, passed through Immigration and Customs and boarded the boat.

    Like being at the cinema !

    And we were off crossing the Rio de la Plata .

    After an uneventful crossing we caught our coach. Oh, and you can get Uruguayan currency on the boat.

    to Montevideo’s Terminal Tres Cruces (it’s large bus station) from where we caught a taxi to our hotel.

    When we got to the Reception there was a problem. They had no record of our booking. They asked me when I made the booking. Months ago, I explained whilst frantically locating the confirmation email. Profuse apologies followed along with an upgrade !

    Better than we expected.

    After a quick freshen up we were ready to explore making use of the map they gave us when we checked in.

    It was cold though. Very cold for our bodies that are now so used to a tropical climate. We found it difficult to get warm . I bought a woolen scarf and Rose got herself a woolen hat and they helped a lot but we needed to be warmer. Warm food. That was what was needed. So we headed to the Mercado del Puerto which, according to my research, is famous for the quality of its steaks.

    Once in the building we immediately warm up. It was cooking in there !

    We chose a restaurant

    And a little while later got one of the best steaks I have ever had. Cooked just the way I had requested.

    And a very reasonably priced bottle of Malbec helped it go down. I do like a good red, red wine.

    The next morning after a leisurely breakfast at the hotel we had a final walk (well to be factual Rose walked and I limped along beside her ) around the streets of Montevideo and then hailed a taxi to take us back to the bus station. We had the coach to catch at 13.00 hours which (along with the ferry )would eventually get us back to Buenos Aries around 17.45 hours.

    All in all we think it was a worthwhile trip to make.

    In the next installment we pound the streets (calles) of Buenos Aries again but also get to smell the roses !

    The headline for today’s edition is based upon the single released in 1983 by UB40 which reached number 1 on both the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100.

    “The Cemetery “ in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    Now if you’ve read the two editions I’ve put out you’ll know from the last one that we intended to visit Argentina’s near neighbour Uruguay and I’d planned accordingly.

    When booking hotel accommodation for our time in Buenos Aires I’d also booked with a hotel in the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo. And I chose the Crystal Tower Hotel primarily because it appeared to be conveniently located for our ‘flying’ visit.

    But before our short trip we had lots more of Buenos Aires to see and we were going to Recoleta Cemetery and try to find the mausoleum of Eva Perón . First though a visit to

    And then onto the National Museum of Decorative Arts .

    Walking around museums is tiring work . I needed to sit.

    Rested we pushed on but it wasn’t long before I needed to give the foot a break. So …

    Fully refreshed we got walking again and eventually reached Recoleta Cemetery. Once through the gates we immediately took a photograph of the map showing mausoleum location. Without this I doubt we would have found

    Eva Perón’s grave.

    What struck us immediately was the grandeur of the mausoleums. Even those that were in a terrible state of disrepair.

    The tomb of Rufina Cambacèrés who it is said died twice .

    And then we found Eva Perón’s grave.

    Upon leaving the cemetery we visited the church next to it, Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar .

    What about Montevideo I hear you exclaim. Well you’ll have to wait until the next installment.

    The headline for today’s edition is based upon track 20 of the album Journey to the Center of the Earth by Rick Wakeman in 1974 which reached number 1 on the UK Albums Chart and number 3 on the US Billboard 200.

    “Something Got Me Started” in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    There’s little doubt that Subte (the Buenos Aires subway system) makes it a lot easier (and less expensive) to get around but we still did quite a lot of walking and even with my new , super comfy, shoes the ankle I broke just before Christmas

    started to ache and I started walking in a different way (I suppose a subconscious action to try to reduce impact on the damaged area) with the consequence that my left heel started to really ache and it became quite painful to walk.

    This didn’t stop our excursions however. You’ll be pleased to learn that I ‘manned up’. I am English after all ! It just meant that Rose wasn’t able to race around like she normally does. We got around at a more sedate pace. And I believe – and I’m sticking to it – it meant that we got to see so much more.

    Anyway, enough with my sob story. Let’s get back to the main story, our visit to the San Telmo Sunday Fair which is a bustling street filled with stalls selling a variety of things. Some things which some people might throw out but others pay a lot of money for.

    ‘Entrance ‘ to the market.

    And then something got me started. There was music playing across the square. So we walked (I hobbled) over.

    A tango was in full swing and it drew a large crowd. They put much energy in it made me thirsty ! So a little bite and some liquid refreshment was in order.

    We thought about sitting on the balcony but it was too far from the action . Tango was about to start again !

    The dancers were very good but the accordionist beside them was even more entertaining. His facial expressions were something to see.

    And if that wasn’t enough entertainment we also got to witness a photo shoot for a young, aspiring ballerina.

    She was posing in front of a Curio Collection by Hilton hotel.

    You can just see how Mahogany Bay Resort and Beach Club became a member can’t you !

    In the next installment you’ll get to see more of Buenos Aires and I might – no promises though – take you with us to Uruguay. Can’t wait, can you !

    The headline for today’s edition is based upon the single released in 1991 by Simply Red and reached number 11 on the UK Singles Chart and number 23 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

    “Going Underground “ in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    Having been back from our trip to Granada, Nicaragua for around six weeks it was time to set off again. This time we were bound for Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    Now after you’ve seen the photos (forget the boring written stuff) I think a few of you might want to go there so here’s the route that we took :

    Tropic Air 12.00 hours flight from San Pedro to Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport . Flight time of 15 minutes.

    United Airlines 14.33 hours flight to George Bush Intercontinental Airport . Scheduled flight time 2 hours and 34 minutes.

    United Airlines 22.20 hours flight to Ministro Pistarini International Airport . Scheduled flight time 10 hours and 20 minutes

    I need to back up though. I’m moving too fast. Not a good thing at my advancing age !

    First of all we had to make arrangements for Ziggy to be looked after while we were away.

    Now as regular readers will know we normally book Ziggy’s “time away from us” with Pampered Paws but, like Jack Woltz in The Godfather , we got an offer we couldn’t refuse . Frank – long time readers will recall that it was Frank , when serving here on his first posting to Belize by the British Army – that found a very, very young Ziggy (he wasn’t called that at the time though) and his brother Grizzly .

    Ziggy is the little ‘blondie’ on the left.

    Frank though, very quickly taught Ziggy bad habits that we have had to contend with since he came to live with us !

    Anyway, back to The Godfather . Frank offered to look after Ziggy during our holiday. It was an offer we could not refuse so the weekend before we were due to set off Frank came over to Ambergris Caye and spent the day with us all.

    We went to Secret Beach first when we visited our next door neighbours (neighbors for non UK readers) Maresha and Jason’s Bar, Pirates Bar at Not So Secret Beach and then on to

    At Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar

    before taking the water taxi to Belize City

    Bye Frank. Bye Ziggy

    and then on to Price Barracks, Ladyville. Ziggy was temporarily rejoining BATSUB as a Reservist.

    It was a very strange three days at home for Rose me without having Ziggy at our heels or having to step over him while he was recharging (sic) but the time for us to depart eventually arrived.

    Waiting to leave the island at Tropic Air’s Departure Lounge (never , ever thought I would use such words when we first came to Ambergris Caye ).

    Arrival at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston (really plush following it’s fairly recent restyling ) .

    Our plane to Buenos Aires is on time so

    time for a little tipple . On the Rum. A refreshing little cocktail of caño brava white rum, fresh mint, lime juice and riondo Prosecco.

    Once settled on the plane I watched two films – the Green Book (a really enjoyable film ) and Dumbo (I know, I know) I switched to sleep mode and woke up just in time for breakfast. And seemed like I’d just cleared the plate when we joined the queue for Immigration.

    We cleared Immigration and Customs fairly quickly and saw a sign being held aloft with my name on it. Our pre-arranged taxi. Sixty minutes later (it could have taken a lot longer but I think our driver was Juan Manuel Fangio) we were at our hotel.

    After unpacking, a quick shower and change of clothes we ventured out for our first ‘taste’ of Buenos Aires. On the advice of the Receptionist we went to Julio Cortázar Square (“Serrano “) . And enjoyed the walk there.

    Enough walking. Time for a cerveza (we didn’t share the bottle, honest )

    and a bite to eat.

    On our walk back to the hotel we ‘discovered ‘ the Subte .

    Buenos Aries had just ‘opened up’ to us. The next day we were going underground !

    Look out for the next thrilling installment as we find our way around Buenos Airies, the Paris of South America.

    The headline for this edition is based on the single released in 1980 by The Jam which reached number one on the UK Singles Chart.

    “A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That “ when away from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.

    Rose had only been back from our trip to London for four weeks when we were heading off again. Being retired can be so tiring !

    This time we were making a return visit to Nicaragua. Granada, Nicaragua to be precise.

    For those of you that may be thinking of making the same trip our outbound travel itinerary was :

    Tropic Air flight to Philip Goldson International Airport departing at 14.00 hours (15 minute flight time ).

    Avianca flight to El Salvador at 17.10 hours ( 1 hour 24 minute flight time )..

    Avianca flight to Managua at 20.25 hours ( 50 minute flight time ).

    We have now landed in Managua three times and (hoping I’m not tempting providence) have never had a problem clearing Immigration and Customs. The other good thing when landing there is that you can use the Duty Free outlets before leaving the airport.

    Our taxi – pre-arranged with the hotel – was waiting for us as we exited the airport and the driver, Eduardo, identified himself to us by way of an iPad held aloft with our surname on the screen. Cost of the eighty minute journey was US$ 40.

    On our last visit we had stayed at the Hotel Plaza Colon and it was very good but for this visit we decided we would try somewhere else and we chose Hotel Real La Merced .

    A conveniently located hotel just a few minutes walk away from the park (Parque Central )in the center of the city .

    A quick ‘look’ around our hotel.

    A pink marble staircase.

    A selfie !

    The view from the breakfast area.

    It had everything we needed !

    During our eleven nights there we roamed the streets, enjoyed the wonderful colonial buildings , ate the food, drank the beer (and Rose drank the wine too ) and enjoyed time with the very friendly people.

    The famous life size representation of a horse carriage on the main access road to Granada.

    The real deal.

    Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral

    The Fire Station

    Not dramatically different to the one in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.

    Granada, Nicaragua, a nice friendly place that, once you get there, is relatively inexpensive.

    A huge bowl of chicken soup (more like a stew really) for the equivalent of US$ 4

    And shrimp pasta for around US$ 6

    Topped off with a couple of beers.

    A Sol for just over US$ 2 and

    a bottle of Victoria Frost, a Nicaraguan beer, at just under US$ 1.

    It – like here in Belize – was the rainy season when we were there so we got to use the brollies.

    We also, unfortunately, got to watch Arsenal’s hugely embarrassing defeat to Chelsea in the Europa League Final and Liverpool triumph over Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League Final.

    At half-time we got ready for the second half with

    Queso fritos con plátanos maduros (fried cheese with mature plantains). A yummy little bite for around US$ 4) .

    We ‘managed’ to spare a little time to wander around the grocery stores

    When we are away we try to mix things up a bit. A little bit of this, a little bit of that !

    The exchange rate is around 33 Córdoba to 1US$ so you can do some price comparisons!

    Before we knew it our time was up, time to go . But not before our photo shoot together.

    All went swimmingly the next day with our journey to Managua (Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport ) airport and the check in was a breeze

    as was the flight to El Salvador but then our Avianca curse ( 2 years ago our scheduled plane from Managua was cancelled and we had to spend an unplanned night in a hotel ) struck.

    Everyone had boarded the plane when the announcement was made ” Will all passengers exit the plane “. Apparently the full roster of crew had not appeared for work.

    So we found a comfy spot in the airport until an announcement was made. But it never was.

    They were looking for us though and they came to take us to the departure gate.

    We caught the plane ! Until the next holiday .

    The headline for this edition is based upon the album released by D Mob in 1989 and reached number 82 on the US Billboard Hot 200 and number 42 on the UK Albums Chart.

    “Don’t You (Forget About Me ) “ when I’m away from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

    Now when I left you it was just after a resounding victory (OK so it was a one nil win with a bit of a flukey goal) by Arsenal over Watford FC.

    The next day was the day for what has now become an annual pub crawl with my friend John (yes , aka Harry the Hornet,the Watford supporter ).

    After a (very) hearty breakfast (if you read the first in this series you know what this means. If you didn’t read it , you must) I set off to cross the Thames .

    I took the underground. You didn’t think I walked across . Did you ?

    To our favourite meeting point. The Royal Oak at the Borough

    where real ale is sold

    and customers are happy.

    After a few (quite a few actually) beers and a bite to eat we headed north of the Thames. We were on a pub crawl after all.

    John trying to look cool and stylish. But failing miserably.

    I think we went to three pubs – we normally ‘hit’ six or seven but I was still struggling from the broken ankle I suffered just before Christmas – but that didn’t limit the amount of alcohol we consumed. It had to be done.

    The thoughts of a sage.

    The next day, after another hearty breakfast (it’s the only way to start a day – or at least that’s what they tell me at Estel’s Dine By the Sea ) Rose and I set off for some retail therapy. But I had a surprise for her. I booked tickets for the matinee of a show that had just opened in London.

    When I could see that Rose was starting to look like the therapy had worked I suggested that we head for Haymarket where there were a couple of good pubs. I chose the Tom Cribb.

    Over our drinks I broke the surprise when I showed her the tickets .

    We were going to see the stage show of Only Fools And Horses , recognised by many as one of Britain’s greatest ever TV comedy shows.

    Tickets to see the show was not the only surprise that Rose got. Oh, no. During the Intermission she found that she was sitting next to Joanna Lumley .

    It was the second time we’d met Joanna Lumley (although it didn’t appear that she remembered!). The first time was around twenty-two years ago when I was working for the company that published OK! Magazine and the owner at the time used to host celebrity parties to generate a photo library for the magazine.

    It’s a great show and one that I highly recommend if you find yourself in London during its run. It’s , as Del Boy would say, “Cushty“.

    The next day we had to travel across London and once again found ourselves celebrity (sic) spotting. Eagle-eyed Rose spotted that Paul Burrell , former butler to Princess Diana was in our carriage.

    The not-so-loyal butler is fifth from the left.

    Oh, I digressed. We were traveling across London to meet up with Jacqueline and Roy who had travelled down from Yorkshire to spend some time with us. We first met Jacqueline and Roy at Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar in San Pedro and immediately struck a friendship. It was Jacqueline it was her first visit to Belize but for Roy it was a return visit. He’d served here with the British Army in the mid seventies .

    We had arranged to meet at The Moon Under Water

    a JD Wetherspoon pub.

    For those of you that have not frequented a ‘Wetherspoon’s , they are generally quite large and well appointed establishments that offer a good menu and a range of good beers and very reasonable prices when compared to pubs in the adjacent area (and no, I’m not on the payroll ).

    With all of our planned meet-ups completed Rose and I spent the Easter weekend meandering around Central London in weather conditions that had been arranged just for us !

    I do like a good bookshop.

    And an olde English sweet (candy for non UK readers) shop. Catch the name of the shop next door ! Snog

    Rose so wanted to get Ziggy one.

    Rose’s favourite stage play.

    My how things have changed since we immigrated.

    A devastated Rose after finding that her favourite bead shop in London is no more. Now it’s a shop that sells paper

    Very, very expensive Japanese paper.

    With the weather being so good we even managed to take in some ‘street food’.

    All too soon it was time for Rose and I to have our last breakfast together for awhile.

    Doesn’t she hide the sadness well ! But before we got up from the table she looked at me intently and said “Don’t you forget about me ” (she didn’t really but I was stuck for a song title for the ‘headline’).

    With breakfast over I contacted Uber for vehicles to take Rose to her sister’s and one to take me to my friend John’s house.

    First task when I arrived there was to unwrap the stuff I had delivered there ( I use it as a ‘mailbox’ ) and pack it in my suitcases.

    With that task completed John and I headed to Watford for the game against Southampton. It wasn’t the greatest game but it was my last chance to watch live Premiership football ( the S word for readers from the US ). It ended a one all draw with a goal scored in the first minute and the equaliser in the ninetieth.

    The next morning Janet, John and I were up early so he could take me to Heathrow airport so I could catch the United Airlines 09.30hours flight to Houston. I caught it and after an uneventful journey was in my hotel room by 19.30 hours.

    I stayed in Houston for two nights so that I could treat myself to some retail therapy!

    I also managed to have dinner with Caesar a friend from Ambergris Caye but it was time to head home.

    The first I did after picking up my golf cart was to go a get Ziggy. I had some stuff for him.

    Meet Ziggy’s newest ‘friends’. Sophia the Snow Leopard (this is actually Ziggy’s third Snow Leopard ) and Basil the Badger.

    And

    some chew sticks to keep his teeth in good order.

    The headline (contrived) for this edition is based on the song released in 1985 by Simple Minds which reached number 7 on the UK Singles chart and number one on the US Billboard Hot 100.

    “Streets of London” when away from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

    At the end of last month Rose and I celebrated our 7th anniversary of moving permanently to Ambergris Caye, Belize. Seven years. They’ve flown by so fast. 

    Nothing to do with celebrating the anniversary but around a month before it we took a little time out from island life and made a visit to our previous stamping ground . London. England. United Kingdom no less.

    Long time readers of this blog will probably have (quite rightly ) formed the opinion that I am somewhat a creature of habit. If I like something then I generally tend to stick with it (just ask Rose !). So, for our trip to London, I booked air tickets with United Airlines out of Houston and the Radisson Blu Grafton in Tottenham Court Road for our accommodation.

    We caught the 09.00 hours Tropic Air flight to the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport

    and had checked in for our first flight to Houston , gone through security and were sitting at Jet’s Bar

    and by

    I had a

    in front of me .

    The short flight ( 2hours and 20 minutes ) to Houston was uneventful but we got a rude awakening when we approached the Immigration zone. It was packed. Horrendously packed (readers please do not moan about delays when visiting Belize ).

    We eventually (around 90 minutes later ) cleared Immigration, got our plane and arrived at Heathrow around 11.30 hours the next day. We cleared Immigration and then Customs very quick;y and were in an Uber car (I love Uber ) no more than twenty-five minutes after touching down and in our hotel forty-five minutes after that.

    Quickly checking in at Reception

    quickly unpacking our ‘cases and a freshen-up and we were ready to ‘hit’ the shops ! We had some presents to buy .

    With shopping over it was time for Rose and I to reacquaint ourselves with

    and then for a good night’s sleep.

    Breakfast the next morning .

    Now what shall I have ?

    Not quite anEstel’s Dine By the Sea ‘ but …

    With breakfast over it was time for us to reacquaint ourselves with the UK’s transport system.

    An unusually empty railway carriage.

    Around thirty minutes later we were collected by my nephew Bradley so that we could spend the day with his partner Shorona and lovely (Shorona is lovely too) children Lottie and Cody. Cody is with me in the photo below.

    And then it was present trying on time for Lottie (it was her third birthday the week before we arrived).

    “C’mon Lottie . Cheer up “.

    “Stop hiding . We can see you”.

    it was like a fashion parade. And we managed to get the right size !

    We had an amazingly enjoyable day and didn’t get back to our hotel until around 22.30 hours. We had to get some sleep in. We had an appointment the next day With my friend John and his wife Janet for a traditional British Sunday lunch !

    But first to savor the lovely Spring day with a walk-in the streets of London.

    My friend had booked a table (who knew you need to do that with pubs too now) and not long after sitting down I was devouring my lunch (sorry, only remembered to take a photo after I’d started eating it ).

    All friends before the big match . Watford versus Arsenal the next day. Janet and John both support the Hornets and Rose and I, the Gunners and I was going to the game with John.

    After breakfast the next morning

    -something a little different –

    there was time for a little bit of shopping with Rose before heading off to meet my friends and ex workmates John and Jon for a pre match appetiser . Oh, and a few beers !

    And after a bite we moved on, yes you’ve guessed it, to another pub!

    This one with more Watford fans in it. I was outnumbered.

    And then onto to game but not before there was a photo call.

    Me surrounded by a load of plonkers.

    Enough tomfoolery it was time for the serious stuff.

    One nil to the Arsenal.Not unsurprisingly I wasn’t the most popular person in that section of the ground .Time to make a hasty exit and head back to my hotel !

    More exciting adventures in the next edition which I’ll try to publish real soon. Can’t wait, can you.

    The headline for this edition is based on the song (which I have to admit is one that I don’t particularly like ) released in 1972 by Ralph McTell which reached number 2 on the UK Singles Chart.

    “Let Me Entertain You” when away from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

    At our hotel in Cartagena, Hotel Casa Cochera Del Gobernador, we started every day with a breakfast. My favourite (favorite for non-UK readers ) was

    Huevos estrallados con jamón y papas. Followed by a plate of fresh fruit. And all ‘washed down’ with ? What else. A mug of Colombian coffee. And again. And again.

    With a full stomach we were ready to continue our exploration of Cartagena . And now, so are you !

    Where to next ? How about a bit of torture! The Palacio de la Inquisición :

    After a few hours in the museum we needed refreshing so we found ourselves a table

    and who should come along to entertain us ? Miss Colombia, who else. She heard the shouts from the street rappers , gave a look towards us as if to say “Let me entertain you” and gave an impromptu performance.

    And then it was time to continue with our walk-about. But first a little browsing.

    And then for Rose. It had to be done.

    Yes, that is a tree in the store.

    A study of concentration.

    A few hours later (this comment WILL cost me but …) we got back to the streets.

    See the manacle on the ankle.

    By now we were feeling peckish so it was time for something to eat.

    Rose has just seen the menu.

    And then a beer.

    I can’t recall what this was called. I can ,though, recall how good it tasted.

    Watch out for the next thrilling installment to find out how we bravely go beyond the wall. And how we end up in Russia !

    The headline for this edition is based upon the single released in 1998 by Robbie Williams which reached number three on the UK Singles chart.

    “Statues “ away from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

    The city of Cartagena is steeped in history and we found the best way to soak it up was to walk the streets. Well, at least within the walled part.

    Spanish architecture abounds and it is patently obvious that a considerable amount of money has been spent to renovate many of the buildings and when we were there a lot more projects were underway.

    There are also a lot of street statues :

    Pope John Paul 11. Behind the Cathedral Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

    A series of statues around Plaza de San Pedro Claver.

    Oh, that’s me !

    The Reclining Fat Woman in Plaza Santa Domingo.

    I know it’s in bad taste but it just had to be done !

    And then the ramparts of Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas.

    With all this walking -and it was hot- there was only one thing to do.Find a Street cafe !

    And after a few of those it was time to make some new friends.

    Easy. And he was shorter than me.

    Look out for the next edition in which there’ll be a bit of torture and some culinary delights.

    The headline for today’s edition is based on track ten of the Foo Fighters’ Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace which reached number three on the US Billboard 200 chart and number one on the UK Albums Chart.

    “Streetwalkin’ away from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize “.

    When Rose and I moved to Ambergris Caye just over six and a half years ago we promised ourselves that once our house had been built we would use our Central America base to travel and experience the countries around us.

    We’ve been to the USA four or five times – we’ve spent time in Texas , the Carolinas, Mérida (a few times), Panama , Cuba, Nicaragua, Chetumal and, not surprisingly, the UK and it was definitely time to try something different.

    So one morning I made my usual mug of coffee – instant, black and unsweetened- and headed to the veranda, the western, lagoon facing one with the coffee and my trusty iPad .

    “Where to go, where to go, where to go ?” (I’d obviously seen the Christopher Robin film trailer too many times) I muttered to Ziggy (he’s normally my early morning companion ). He opened his eyes, wagged his tail but offered no suggestions before he closed his eyes again and got back to ‘chill mode’.

    So I had a sip of coffee and that’s when it hit me. Caffeine, why not chase the caffeine? How about a little trip to Colombia, I thought. Another sip and my fingers went to work on the keyboard of the iPad and before I’d finished my mug of coffee I’d got a trip mapped out. Seven nights in Cartagena .

    A few weeks later we loaded our suitcases on the golf cart, dropped Ziggy off at his home away from home ( Pampered Paws ) and took the 15 minute flight to the ‘International airport . At ‘International we boarded the Copa Airlines flight to Tocumen International Airport where , after a nearly four hour stopover, we caught the flight to Cartagena.

    Just over an hour and a half later we had cleared immigration and customs and went outside the airport where we saw a chap (guy for non-UK readers ) holding up an iPad with my name on the screen. It was the taxi I’d booked with the hotel we were going to. Casa Cocherada Del Gobernador.

    In just over thirty minutes we reached the hotel, booked in and were in our room ready for a good sleep. The time by then was 23.15 hours. It had been a long day.

    We awoke the following day suitably refreshed and after breakfast started our exploration of Cartagena with some streetwalkin’ and for day one we confined ourselves to within the wall.

    But first a glimpse of the hotel I had chosen.

    And then to the streets of Cartagena. Well, within the wall anyway.

    Time to sample the local beer !

    Pretty good too.

    Back to the street tour.

    In the next edition we venture further afield and sample some of the culinary delights that Cartagena has to offer. Can’t wait, can you !

    The headline for today’s edition is based upon the single released by Shakatak which reached number thirty-eight on the UK Singles chart.

    ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’.

    Unbelievable. Four editions produced in nine days. That’s what a good dosage of omega 3 can do for you! But I don’t know about you but I’m getting a bit bored with it now so I’ll wrap up our trip to New Orleans with this edition. Thank goodness, did I hear you say ? Shame on you. I’ve been away a long time so …

    Amazingly we were up early after watching the Saints play the Falcons the previous night and after breakfast we headed off for, yes, you’ve guessed it, a bit more shopping. After all it was the

    I’d done a little research at home and based on this we elected to go to the Lakeside Shopping Center. We loved traveling on the extremely economical streetcar/bus system but really didn’t fancy the multiple changes required for 8+ miles journey. So, using the AT & T tourist plan we bought on our first day I booked with Uber and we there in just over ten minutes.

    Look at all those people.

    After what seemed like days ( weeks more like it ) we’d finished our shopping. I bought some new polo shirts and shots – since packing up smoking in March I’ve gained a few pounds. Locally my friends used to call me flaco but just recently it’s become gordo ! Oh, Rose did a bit (read BIT ) of shopping too. I digress. With the shopping out of the way it was time to eat. What else ? I’ve now got an appetite.

    So it was back to Bourbon Street and the

    for

    a choice of

    and

    for Rose and

    for me.

    On the Saturday we hopped on a streetcar, paid our US$ 3 each and took the twenty odd minute ride to the National World War ll Museum .

    Names of serving military engraved in pavement bricked leading to museum entrance.

    For an entrance fee of US$ 28 – US$ 35 if you include watching the Beyond All Boundaries film (narrated by Tom Hanks) and you should include it – you get a tremendously informative and enjoyable experience. Rose and I were in there over four and a half hours and could have stayed longer. So much to see.

    Boo.

    Hurrah.

    And another one.