“The Tide Is High” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Regular readers know the score ((if you are not a regular reader then just choose a previous edition -or loads of them (please)). Up early, coffee, blah, blah.

So what did yesterday hold? Well it rained. Nothing new there, it feels like it has been raining for ever. But yesterday wasn’t too bad because when it stopped it was a beautiful, sunny day.

I am not an expert on the subject – in fact I know nothing – but when Rose and I were standing on the veranda yesterday morning (I’m not always out there on my own) we looked out at Lloyd’s guys working on filling our lot that is immediately south of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and it was obvious that the flooding of our waterlogged lot and that of our neighbour, Jason, had been caused by more than the rain. I mentioned this to Rose and quick as a flash she replied “The tide is high“. There’s a lot more to Rose than meets the eye!

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Difficult to discern where the land ends (should) and the lagoon begins.

Do you remember the concrete hatches that we had for the water tank under the house and the septic tank by the side of it? You know the ones that we had replaced with the lightweight aluminium ones made by Victor (the welder).

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Old concrete hatch for the water tank.

We’d got Lloyd to get his guys to move them to the north side of our lot with the intention that they would form a base for the two foot high rock wall that we are going to have built in a few weeks. That all changed yesterday morning when inspiration ‘hit’ me. Why not use them to fill the gap between the ramp and the front garden.

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The ‘cart can get up there but …

So I had a word with Lloyd and within minutes his guys were ‘on the case’.

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Three smaller hatches moved.

And then to the big one – the one that had been on the water tank.

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“It’s heavy, we need help”.

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“That’s better”.

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“Phew I’m glad that’s over”.

Three of the guys then went back to land filling leaving their colleague to move the old hatch covers in to position.

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Just the big one to go.

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It’s in!

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It looked like my idea had worked but there was only one way to find out. Drive the golf cart up the ramp.

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Mission accomplished!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single by Blondie which was released in 1980 which reached number one in both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart.

“You Keep Me Hangin’ On” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Chose a different position this morning to take my coffee (black), my iPad and myself. The rain was coming down (again) when I got up at 05.45 hours this morning (I think that because I have to go up the stairs to go to bed it is making me tireder!) but had stopped by the time I had made my coffee ( black) so I decided to take my chair to the front of the house. First Floor veranda, near the door.

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View from my chair.

Now where was I? In yesterday’s edition I got as far as telling you what progress had been made on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize up to Tuesday lunchtime. Today’s edition brings you (and me for that matter) up-to-date.

Around 13.00 hours Charlie and Jerome arrived to finish off the carpentry that had been so abruptly brought to an end on the previous Saturday when they punctured the water pipe in the Utility Room. .

In no time at all they had fitted the shelf and hanging rack

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and within minutes we were testing the shelf’s strength with storage bags containing sheets and towels!

They then moved downstairs to fit the hanging rack in the larger of the bedrooms in the Ground Floor self-contained apartment.

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Now our guests have somewhere to hang their clothes!

Rafael (aka The Frog) also arrived with Charlie and Jerome and he had come to apply (or so I thought) cement sealant to the patch in the wall in the Utility Room after the shelf had been fitted.

It didn’t take him too long and within minutes he was loading his golf cart ready to depart. But something didn’t feel right. So I ran (I still can) down the stairs to catch him and then I saw it. A can of emulsion. Not cement sealant.

Using a combination of gesticulation and monosyllabic speech I let him know that something was wrong. But what? I then had a brain wave and went to the Store Room/Garage (well it will serve as a garage when we have emptied all of the boxes of our stuff from the UK) and got a tub of cement sealant. Pointing at the can of emulsion and shaking my head in a negative fashion and then pointing at the tub of ‘sealant and nodding my head in a positive fashion he got the message.

Grabbing the sealant he returned upstairs and sponged the emulsion from the affected area and then dried it off (with his ‘T’ shirt no less!) and within minutes the coat of sealant had been applied.

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Yesterday (Wednesday in case I have managed to confuse you with my attempt to ‘play’ catch-up) morning Rolando and Rafael (aka The Frog) turned up. Rolando to fix one of the down lights in the living area that wasn’t working (loose connection)

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and then the pair of them set about fitting extensions to the drain pipes set in the walls for the Second Floor veranda/roof terrace (the pipes in place were not long enough to clear the walls of the First Floor veranda below).

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Northern side.

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Southern side.

With a length of pipe, a hacksaw and some adhesive they very quickly set about solving the problem.

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Rolando obviously had his mind on other things because I heard Rafael exclaim “Come on Rolando give me the adhesive” (OK he doesn’t speak English but I need a headline) ” You keep me hangin’ on“.

Within no time at all they had fitted extensions for all of the pipes and the water (it was raining again) was clearing the walls of the veranda below.

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It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing image but it is effective.

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Southern side finished.

Whilst the guys were at work Rose and I spent time in the Store Room/Garage opening crates from the UK and reacquainting ourselves with some of our old ‘friends’ and then carrying them up the two flights of stairs to the First Floor. Again and again. And again.

At around 17.15 hours I thought I deserved a break so I took the camera up to the roof to watch the sunset.

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I wasn’t the only one to think that the rooftop was THE place to be!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1966 (the year, co-incidentally, that England won the World Cup) by The Supremes which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number eight in the UK Singles Chart.

“The Way We Were” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Now we have moved up to the First and Second Floors (we moved up there after the burst pipe incident on Saturday) I have really been trying to get back in to my routine. You know. Get up early. Make a mug of coffee (black). Grab the iPad and go sit on the veranda.

I’ve got the coffee worked out. I know where the essential ingredients are -coffee, water, kettle, spoon and mug- and I know where I keep the iPad. But the dilemma is which veranda? The heavy rain of the last few days though has made the choice a little easier. The veranda with the best cover – the western (lagoon) facing one on the First Floor.

Decision taken -literally for me- it’s time to move one of the two chairs (fit for purpose) that we have until our patio furniture arrives (more about that in a future edition).

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Chair in position.

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Coffee (black) at the ready.

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And the view was there waiting for me!

Given my irregularity in publishing editions just lately I’m not too sure what I have and haven’t told you. I know I’ve told you that they graded the road. I’ve also let you know that the incessant rain has undone much of this good work. I haven’t though let you know that one plus point of the rain is that last Saturday the water tank (45,000 gallon capacity) became full and the tank overflow pipes went in to action.

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Every day since Saturday the overflow pipes have ‘gone’ to work. We use some water and the rain comes along and replenishes it.

Oh the bodega eventually disappeared as well. Not before we had secured the ‘permission to build board’ though.

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We don’t know where we are going to place/hang it yet but we intend to find a ‘home’ for it somewhere.

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Bodega-less area. Just doesn’t look the same.Currently it feels like we have lost an old friend!

On Monday morning Nicholas came to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize to continue (Rafael -aka The Frog- had started the process on Sunday) to finish making good around the pipe that had burst in the Utility Room.

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Looking better.

And then he went to the smaller bedroom in the Ground Floor self-contained apartment to re-fit the down light that the water had gushed through on Saturday.

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Back where it belongs!

Whilst I was down there with Nicholas (he is a very nice young man and I enjoy talking with him) I noticed that we had another problem. The door to the en-suite for the smaller bedroom could not clear the toilet to shut.

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Looks OK doesn’t it.

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Not the kind of privacy you need! Time to contact Daniel Camal, our building contractor!

In the afternoon Nicholas returned to apply the finishing coat of cement for the wall in the Utility Room.

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Starting to look much better.

Yesterday morning Rolando turned up with a replacement toilet seat. A smaller one that would (hopefully) solve the problem of the non-closing door.

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Will it?

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Yes! Problem solved.

It was starting to feel like the way we were before the accident.

Read tomorrow’s edition for the remainder of what took place. And what today unfolds!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single by Barbra Streisand which, in 1974, reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number thirty-one in the UK Singles Chart.

“Heroes and Villains” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I will open up today’s edition by apologising to regular readers for the couple of days absence. When I started the blog at the end of October last year I never intended that it would be a daily blog but that I would try to publish a minimum of six editions a week. I haven’t always stuck to this self-made promise but the weeks when I haven’t have been few and far between.

Last week though I just knew that I would struggle. There was just too much going on. In fact even when I have published I have forgotten to include things that I thought might be of interest. For example I had so much on my mind last week that I forgot to mention that someone, somewhere must have known that Rose and I had moved in to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Why? Did someone send us a “Welcome to your new home” (we did receive one from my sister Chris)? No, but it was something equally as nice as that. The San Pedro Town Council sent out a team of guys to fill the many and deep potholes of the road north of the bridge. I don’t know how far north of us they went (a bit selfish I know ) but it made the drive back and forth to ‘Town so much more pleasurable. That was until the heavy rains started (and we have had some really rainy days and nights) and I am sorry to ‘say’ that the potholes are already back!

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The grader at work at the end of our front garden.

Thursday and Friday were general cleaning up days with only Alfredo and Rafael (a new guy) working on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.. Applying more grout around the windows and sliding doors, painting over dirty/scuff marks, clearing rubbish from the garden and generally tidying up the First and Second Floors.

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Alfredo painting near the Pump Room.

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Freshly painted base “wall” for the first flight of the entrance stairs.

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And the second flight.

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Clean up of the bedroom (Rose’s handicraft room) on the First Floor.

And Friday Alfredo and Rafael were joined by Rafael (aka The Frog) to start dismantling the bodega. It’s had been in our front garden for nearly a year and had started to look little worse for wear and I thought that it would come down really easily. In fact I thought with a little bit of hammering in the right places it would all down. But I was wrong. The three guys spent the whole afternoon on it and still didn’t manage to dismantle it completely.

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Not quite goodbye bodega but …

On Saturday morning Charlie and Jerome, the carpenters, turned up with the remaining bits of woodwork.

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Chest of drawers for my walk-in closet.

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Supports for the last shelf for the Utility Room.

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The remaining shelf!

Around thirty minutes later Rolando and Nicholas turned up with the ‘missing’ toilets. One for Rose’s bathroom, one for my bathroom and one for the en-suite for the smaller bedroom in the Ground Floor self-contained apartment.

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Alfredo carrying Rose’s toilet up the stairs.

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Nicholas and Rolando taking my toilet up the stairs.

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Nearly there.

It was all going so well. And then. Charlie and Jerome became the villains when, in fitting the shelf for the Utility Room, they burst the water pipe for the toilet in the bathroom for the smaller bedroom in the apartment. And then our heroes appeared. Nicholas and Rolando very quickly turned off the water and went in to action.

By removing the light fitting that water was gushing through in the small bedroom in the apartment.

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And sticking a bucket under it to catch the water.

Very quickly Nicholas set about exposing the pipe that Charlie and Jerome had punctured.

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Go Nicholas, go.

And in no time at all the damaged section had been replaced and covered with a first coat of cement.

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We knew who the heroes and villains were on the day!

Oh, by the way, Charlie and Jerome did manage to install my chest of drawers.

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The headline for today’s edition is based on the single by The Beach Boys which was released in 1967 and reached number twelve in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number eight in the UK Singles Chart.

“Casino Royale” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

After four nights in our new home (albeit in the Ground Floor self-contained apartment and not the First and Second Floors that we will eventually move to) I am gradually becoming accustomed to our new surroundings. I now don’t have to think twice about where the coffee is, where my mug is, etc.

I also have decided where my favourite location is to take the coffee and iPad to first thing in the morning. The small flight of steps at the front of the house that lead to the apartment. Its not the most comfortable seating position but the breeze is great.

That’s where I went yesterday morning when I got up shortly after 04.00 hours. A quick read of The Times on-line (I didn’t want to dwell too long on Arsenal’s loss to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League) and then straight in to producing yesterday’ edition of the blog.

It took me slightly longer than usual to pull the edition together. Covering more typical blogger subject matter (food being yesterday’s choice) required a greater level of thought on my part. I am sure though that with a few editions under my belt it will flow a lot more easily.

After publishing the edition I showered, shaved and got dressed and headed to Estel’s for breakfast (told you things were starting to get back to normal). I didn’t dwell there as long as usual though, I had things to do, people to see.

With breakfast finished I went to the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) office in Pescador Drive to organise the switch of ‘name of account’ from Daniel Camal, our building contractor, to my name. The whole process took around fifteen minutes -partly because the system ‘froze’ but primarily because the lady attending to me took a personal call during which (even with my extremely limited understanding of Spanish) she had a conversation about the refrigerator she is about to buy. With all of the information entered she told me that there was a fee of BZ$ 240 (BZ$200 deposit and BZ$ 40 connection/transfer charge) which I had to pay at Milo’s. Fortunately the office is also located in Pescador Drive so, following a short walk, five minutes later the fee had been paid. BEL will now send someone to read the meter so that a final invoice can be issued to Daniel.

Although I was busy I took time out on the journey home to take a closer look at a building that is under construction north of the bridge just behind the Paradise Theatre.

I was happily snapping away with the camera (getting like a real blogger now because I take the camera out with me!) when I saw a ‘face’ I knew on the building site. It was John Harvey of Robin’s Kitchen.

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A familiar ‘action’ shot of John.

Seeing me, John came over for a chat and told me that he is working on the build installing the plumbing ( I had no conception that he was a plumber – you learn something every day!) for what is going to be an office complex and spa – with a restaurant, bar and swimming pool. And apparently, when this is built, a casino is going to be constructed. Casino Royale maybe?

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Look hard and you can just see the project behind the Paradise Theatre.

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Knowing that I had to get back to the house I brought my interlude to an end and got home at 10.45 hours to find the place a hive of activity, Daniel’s guys were working their way through the list of forty-one items that we had sent to him the previous day.

As I parked the ‘cart I saw the chest of drawers for the larger of the apartment’s bedrooms had been finished and delivered.

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A quality finish.

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And the back too.

The Millenium Ultimate door locks were being fitted to the relevant doors on the Ground Floor,

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Lock for the apartment’s front door being being fitted.

As the day progressed the items on the list started to be ‘ticked off’.

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Pump Room door lock fitted.

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Store Room/Garage door lock fitted.

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José bolting the Ground Floor railings and balustrades in place.

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Alfredo giving the concrete table on the Second Floor a fresh coat of paint.

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Gleaming.

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Rafael (aka The Frog) on site clean up.

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Removing a stubborn post.

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And it’s out!

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José carrying out repairs on the steps to the Ground Floor apartment.

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Clean up around the septic tank and soak-away.

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Starting to look tidy.

By the end of the day there were only ten items remaining on the list. Just need our toilets to arrive from Belize City!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1967 by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass which reached number twenty-seven in both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart.

“Food, Glorious Food” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I am still finding it slightly strange when waking up at our new home. Finding that I veer off in the wrong direction until I remember that we are no longer in the condo we rented during our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. Can’t remember immediately which kitchen cupboard we have stored the coffee and mugs in.

Remembering takes a little longer when you have more choices. We have more cupboards and drawers in the Ground Floor self-contained apartment we are using until our two floors are completed. There is a greater choice of where to go sit with my first mug of coffee of the day and my iPad when I get up in the morning. No chairs at the moment but a lot more places where it would be great to have one!

After showering, etc yesterday morning and then having breakfast (haven’t made the trip south yet to Estel’s – just know that I will soon though!) Rose tried out the washing machine for the first time. This took a little longer than it should have done because the users manual had ‘gone missing’ (one of the guys on a well meaning tidy-up?) and she had to research via the Internet. It didn’t take her long though because -unlike me- she is a very practical person. AND she understands and PAYS attention to the technical stuff. Me ? My approach is to press buttons (sometimes very randomly) until something happens. Sometimes this approach works but sometimes it can have horrible consequences (or good ones if I want to get out of doing something!).

With the washing done it was great to be able to ‘hang’ it in direct sunlight (for seventeen months the veranda of the condo we rented was where it would hang to dry).

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So much space to choose from.

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Here will do!

At around 06.45 hours José arrived and he and I had a chat whilst he ate his breakfast before starting work and I (doing so covertly) looked over his shoulder to see the other guys arrive. But nothing. No-one else arrived. Just José. When I asked him where Angel and Alfredo were he told me that they had been moved to Grand Bayman, another project that Daniel is working on. José is good but there is still a fair bit to do before the house can be ‘signed off’ with Daniel Camal, our building contractor, as being complete. This wouldn’t do. We have had enough of waiting. Time for action.

So Rose and I decided to undertake a thorough inspection of the house and compile a comprehensive list of the things still needing to be completed. We started off (armed with a pad, pen and spirit level) at ground level and worked our way, room by room, veranda by veranda, in and around the house.

It took us quite a time but by the time we had finished we had drawn up a list of forty-one items ranging from light switches not being level, to door locks not being fitted, to toilets not installed, missing grouting between tiles, to clearing the rubbish from our lot. We then went in to the apartment and I sent an email to Daniel with out list.

The email brought almost immediate action because within around forty-five minutes Alfredo arrived to take care of the jobs requiring painting. Around fifteen minutes after that Rafael (aka The Frog) turned up to start taking rubbish away. And within thirty minutes of that Daniel arrived accompanied by Rolando and Nicholas.

We then took a tour of the house with Daniel reviewing the items on our list seeing guys on our way around already working on the outstanding items (Daniel had given them copies of my email with their respective tasks highlighted).

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Toilet seat fitted for Powder Room.

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Rubbish removal from inside the house begins.

In the evening Rose and I decided that we would ‘treat’ ourselves and go out to eat and Rose chose The Reef Restaurant (in Pescador Drive) as the venue.

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Brightly coloured, Caribbean themed, exterior.

It’s not the plushest of eateries – simple but very well cooked and presented food served by eager and attentive staff- but does have a decor that cannot fail to remind you of the ‘Sea.

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Not the greatest photo but hopefully you get the idea.

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It has been some time since we last ate there and the obvious difference we noticed was a bar in the corner (purchased we were told from the now closed Ambergris Delight). The bar is not open for business yet but will be soon. This will bring it closer to what it was when Rose and I first went there perhaps around ten years ago. Why? Well there was a bar in exactly the same spot!

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The bar. Not open yet but…

I chose grilled shrimp, rice and beans with green salad

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My choice.

I must remember (now that I am moving to mainstream blogging!) to take a photo before I start eating!

And Rose’s

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Grilled snapper, rice and beans and green salad.

It was either very good or I was extremely hungry. Or both.

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My plate at the finish.

The price? An exceptionally reasonable BZ$ 57 for the two meals, two Belikins and the service tax. Not bad eh?

On the way home we drove down Caribena Street and noticed a frenzy of activity in a brightly lit shop unit. Being the inquisitive (or is it just plain nosey?) type I stopped the ‘cart to take a better look. It’s a new restaurant. Jerri Jonh. An Italian restaurant that opens today (you read it here first).

Rose and I will give it a try soon but in the meantime here’s a look at what’s on offer from the menu.

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It just goes to show that there is never a problem finding food, glorious food in San Pedro!

Today’s headline is based on the opening song of Oliver, the musical written by Lionel Bart which premièred in London’s West End in 1960.

“Above the Clouds” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I slept like a baby (or maybe I didn’t? Well I didn’t wake up crying. Or needing to be changed. Or a feed. So why do people use this expression to describe a good sleep?) on our first night in our new home.

OK, so we are currently living in the Ground Floor self-contained apartment whilst the First and Second Floors get finished (still waiting for three toilets to arrive (one for the apartment and the other two for Rose’s and my bathroom), the remaining door locks to be fitted, the closets to be finished (the larger bedroom in the apartment, the bedroom on the First Floor (Rose’s handicraft room) and mine) and the general snagging and tidy up of our lot. But we don’t care too much because we are in.

I wasn’t up as early this morning (told you I slept like a baby) but I was out on the front step (chose a different location to yesterday) with my mug of coffee and the iPad just before 05.00 hours. I mention the step because until we get patio chairs (must get around to placing the Miami shipment order today!) steps are likely to be what I sit on when I venture outside. It’s a hard life!

No reading The Times on-line for me today because I have lots to do so I concentrated for a while on getting today’s edition published but never quite managed to finish it quickly (or by the 06.30 hours target I set for myself some weeks ago).

So what did yesterday hold for us? Well, after publishing yesterday’s edition I showered (and the shower I am using in the apartment is so much better than the one I have been using for the last seventeen months), shaved, got dressed and had breakfast (was tempted to go to Estel’s but I had too much to do) and then drove to town (it seemed really strange going in the opposite direction) to settle the final electricity and water bills for the condo we had been renting.

To do this I had to go to the Belize Water Services office( their offices are very close to Tropic Air Cargo) with the meter reading we had taken and then do the same for Belize Electricity Limited office in Pescador Drive.

With final invoices produced within forty minutes (long queues at both offices) I went to the Atlantic International Bank Limited branch in Pescador Drive (I sensibly went to Belize Electricity Limited last because their offices are virtually next door to the bank) and joined the long queue there. It eventually became my turn and I paid the bills and made a withdrawal.

On leaving the bank though things just didn’t seem right. I didn’t feel that I had fully settled the invoices. A quick look at them told me that my instincts were right. The bank had only taken the money for the previous month’s usage and not up to the point of our departure from the condo we had been renting. Damn. Only one thing for it. Join the queue again!

Around twenty-five minutes later I had accomplished what I set out to do so I set off for home. In Tres Cocos that is! And when I got there the new guy who was working on the soak-away was making good progress on the penultimate coat of cement.

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Angel and Alfredo had cleared all of the rubbish from in front of the Ground Floor apartment and it looked much more presentable.

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Inside the house José had applied a fresh coat of paint to cover up the marks made when the stair railings had been installed.

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After lunch Victor (the welder) and his son Michael turned up with the work that we had commissioned and they set about immediately installing it.

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First was the door for the pump area of the well which is at the end of our front garden.

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And then set about removing the concrete hatch covers of the septic tank and fitting the new aluminium ones.

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Not only do they look good but I can lift them on my own!

He and his son then set about removing the very heavy hatch cover of the water tank.

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Seriously heavy hatch cover.

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The much lighter replacement.

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Old one out, new one in.

They then moved up to the Second Floor’s roof terrace to fit the ladder so that we have access to the roof that is our rainwater collection roof.

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The ladder.

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Being bolted to the roof by Victor.

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Fitted.

With the ladder fitted I just had to try it out and within less than a minute I was up on the roof and feeling like I was above the clouds over the sun setting on another day.

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By the time I got back down to ground level the guy who had been working on the soak-away had gone but he had applied the finishing coat of cement.

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The headline for today’s (later than normal) edition is based on the title of track seven of the A New World Record album by Electric Light Orchestra in 1976 which reached number five in the US Billboard Hot 200 and number six in the UK Albums Chart.