“Outside Looking In’ when in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Sitting out on the veranda- the first floor one on the western (lagoon) side of the house the other morning (yes it was early and I did have a mug of black coffee and my iPad with me ) I didn’t follow my normal routine of ‘going’ straight to The Times online. Instead I just sat there enjoying the stillness and allowed my thoughts to go wherever they wanted to go. And believe me sometimes they can go to very strange places!

I thought about how I really do not miss England. I miss seeing my family (I was going to write ‘of course’ but not everyone misses their family, so I didn’t). I miss going to the Emirates to watch Arsenal (win, draw or even lose). I do (oh how sometimes it consumes my thoughts to the point where my imagination runs riot and I salivate ) miss my visit to a pie and mash shop ( a traditional, working class meal which originated in East London where I was born).


It may not look terribly appetising to you but to me its as good as anything in a three star Michelin restaurant.

I also miss time spent with my best friend. Normally this took the form (probably an inappropriate word to describe the way we acted for two grown men) of an all day bender when we would see how many pubs (and pints) we could visit (consume) until even we could not understand each other ((this usually came some time (pints) after other people found us totally unintelligible !)).

I miss work sometimes but such hankerings are becoming so rare that I truly believe that I can say that I have ‘kicked the habit’ (sounds like the retribution you would take against an errant monk doesn’t it).

So , all in all, there’s not a great deal that I miss about living in England. And one thing is for sure, I definitely do not want to move back there.

We had a fair bit of stuff to take care of (selling our home and boat, disposing of unwanted/inappropriate stuff, sorting out our financial affairs, arranging rented accommodation on Ambergris Caye and, the most difficult of all, saying goodbye to friends and family and doing this kept us busy for a while, and particularly as the day to leave got closer.

And then when we eventually arrived here there was lots to do. Finalising our architectural plans, selecting a building contractor, applying for the Qualified Retirement Program, getting driver licences, hiring a golf cart. And the act of just generally finding out (by recommendation and by good old trial and error) where to shop for this or that.

But the whole thing – the ‘goodbye’ and the ‘hello’ – was (and continues to be) totally worth it. Any thoughts on our part – Rose and me that is- that we made an error of judgement in our advancing age? None whatsoever. Not even a sliver.

And the purpose of this reflection bordering upon soul searching on my part? None really I suppose other than letting those of you who may be contemplating moving here that it isn’t too difficult. And, even if it were to be, it’s worth it. But that, of course, is just my opinion.

Another reason for sharing my early morning thoughts with you might just be that I really didn’t have a clue what to write about!

With my period of contemplation over I showered, shaved, etc and headed to Estel’s for breakfast where – after the aberration caused by Arsenal’s defeat by Chelsea – I reverted to ordering my ‘usual’ of eggs (sunny side up), potatoes, bacon and tortilla.


I just knew that my culinary bravery wouldn’t last. Sanity returned to the world!

With breakfast finished I took a walk along the beach. Well , to tell the truth I took the cart on the beach in Boca Del Rio (you can still do that there) and enjoyed the breeze and the view.


Looking south.

Fully ‘chilled out’ I headed home, grabbed the paint brush and ‘hit’ the inside of the northern fence.


And slowly but surely (and determinedly) worked my way along it


Including the low, back aching inducing bits.


Peer closely and you can just see me behind the tree trunk.

Disregarding the ants and the heat I worked my way along the fence, getting ever closer to the eastern (road side) section)


Until I painted the final plank.


OK, so I stopped to pose. I was happy, wasn’t I!

Now I can start on the external side of the northern fence when I will be outside looking in.

The headline for today’s edition (and I must own up here, I Googled it) is based on the 2007 single released by Jordan Pruitt which reached number seventy-seven in the US Billboard Hot 100.


  1. kristina nadreau says:

    Your remarks in this posting are similar to my recent musings. I have no interest in returning to the USA to live. I may not remain in Belize but will surely stay in the Caribbean. What I have noticed here about the retired expats is that there is an enormous amount of talent engaged in trivia. I do not know if that is inevitable. I do know that I lack the energy to plan, organize, and implement any major task. For example, I can do a simple dinner, but I could not cater.
    kristina nadreau

    1. Hi Kristina. What type of trivia?

  2. lifeagain says:

    Thanks John, as always thanks for you life sharing…..i am all ears when it comes post and i always read between the lines.
    I looked up the Pie and Mash….it’s something i think i would like…….

  3. tom e says:

    John, You and Rose have done what many others only dream. Many times in my life I have heard others say: “I wish and/or I had plans to do this or that”. I followed my dream(s) and followed many roads less traveled and as far as regrets, I have but a few. My wife retires soon and our pathway of our future life journey is a bit unsettled but I’m sure it will be interesting. I enjoy stretching out my neck to see ahead to what is past that next curve. Cheers to you both!

    1. Thank you Tom. May your adventures be as pleasurable as they are (and have been) for Rose and I.

  4. Sharyn says:

    By the time you finish that fence, John, it’s going to need it all over again! 🙂

    1. The repaint is for someone else Sharyn!

  5. Louise Gow says:

    John – I have the pie thing covered – I am bringing a pie maker!! – anything I think I will really miss – which to be honest only seems to apply to food – I will try to bring with me ! – wont miss my family – wont miss the weather – maybe I will miss spring. a little. Mind you miss it here too! 3 years and 11 months, not that I am counting!

    1. So I’ve got nearly four years to wait for a pie!!!! The time will fly Louise. Start sifting through your ‘haven’t used for ages stuff’ now though. Might as well dispose of it now as to wait three plus years. Will make it easier when it is time to leave. Wish we had done this.

  6. Andy says:

    John.. looks like you will need to explain to some readers about what… pie n mash, bangers n mash, apple n pears, all are ! You should have used a roller on the fence….. Regards Andy

    1. May pick up on your suggestion Andy. You’ll have to read future editions though to find out if I do!!!!
      Tried a roller but ended up with as much on me as the fence!

  7. Wes Witt says:

    You should have started on the outside of the fence since I much prefer Grand Funk Railroad’s version of the Animals song “Inside Looking Out”

    1. There’s still time Wes!

  8. robert says:

    Hi John, there’s enough Gringo’s on the island to open a Pie and Mash booth somewhere , add some bacon and you’d have a huge hit on your hands. No more Gibnut, pigs tail or chicken feet , You could be the next Pukka Pie millionaire !!!! Plus you really do need something to fill your days.
    FYI They’ve had to totally reburbish the park already, a bit like the police accomodation and their transport !!!!

    1. Not too sure that the British gringos on the island are pie and mash aficionados. If they are, then I’d rather they open the shop and I go there!!
      Real shame about the park.
      Ps I can fill my days at the moment. Now when the fence and garden are done ???

  9. Emily says:

    So what exactly *is* bangers and mash? I’ve heard of it and could certainly google it, but I’d rather read your explanation. Looking at your photo and scratching my head; I thought “bangers” were sausages and mash was mashed potatoes. In your photo, I see mashed potatoes, but the other things surely don’t look like any sausages I’ve ever seen. And whatever is that sauce? Inquiring (non-British) minds want to know!

    1. Emily says:

      Oops — my bad! Where did I get “bangers and mash” — you said “pie and mash”! So, that brings me to my next question: what is pie? 😉 🙂

      1. No worries Emily (answering your second Comment). Use the link below and everything will be revealed:


  10. Paul Cloutier says:

    Looks like quite the job, how many cans of paint so far ?

    1. Four 5 gallon cans so far. One more (I hope) should do it.

  11. Jane says:

    See you on the “outside,” John!

    1. Think I am going to start on the southern side first Jane. I will be looking out for you. Do give a shout if I don’t see you. I will be busy painting after all – not admiring the scenery!

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