“TV Dinners” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Long time no ‘speak’. I’ve been thinking of you though but just haven’t had the get up and go to knock out an edition. That and the small fact (sic) that I didn’t think that I had that much to tell you about. I mean, there are so many times I can get away with that “out on the veranda with the mug of black coffee” routine. Or are there?

I had plans for today that included an early start in the garden with the pruning shears but the rain that has been coming down for most of last night and this morning have put paid to that. Well at least for a while anyway. So what could I do? I know, sit out on the veranda with a mug of black coffee and my iPad and ‘knock out’ an edition.

But what to write about? Sitting there listening to the rain I struggled to conjure up something mildly interesting or amusing and, if I’m really lucky, both (allow me to fantasise) to write about. I don’t know why but I thought of Sigmund Freud’s comment about inspiration. Apparently he said ” When inspiration doesn’t come, I go halfway to meet it”. So I thought if it was good enough for Sigmund, then it’s good enough for me.

Where could I go though? I mean it was pissing down with rain ((excuse my choice of phraseology but it is a common (and a generally acceptable term) in the UK)) and I really didn’t want to get wet no matter how much I wanted to be inspired. I enjoy writing the blog but I do it for a bit of fun. It’s not like I’m getting paid to write so my devotion to it only goes so far. And this does not include getting soaked!

I know, I thought, have a look at Facebook. So I did and came across this question posed in one of the ‘Groups I’m a member of:

“As I was fixing supper tonight, I thought I would share 2 appliances I brought with me to Belize and am so thankful for on hot days like this. I used my Nestco electric roaster to cook a delicious one pot roaster without heating up the house. The other thing I use on the really hot days is my crockpot. Would hate to have to do without either one of these. Does anyone else have something that makes cooking a little easier or cooler?”.

Well I thought about this for a little while. What appliances do we have that meet this criteria? The low fat fryer? The George Foreman grill? The Le Creuset cast iron skillet? All very good and useful in their own way but there was only one answer that I could give, so I did :

” Yes. Glad that I brought my wife. She makes cooking easy for me!”.

And she does. Oh she does. If it wasn’t for Rose I’d be on a constant diet (methinks this is a contradiction) of TV dinners!

Anyway, enough of my rambling. What has been happening in my little universe since the last edition?

Last Friday we got a call from Kevin at Captain Shark’s Boatyard to let us know that the bottom of the boat we have bought had been painted and the Bimini had been made. It hadn’t been fitted fully though because they wanted us to decide how high we want the framework. So down to the boatyard we went.

On getting there we saw our boat straight away


Nice, newly painted, red bottom.

Kevin came out to meet us and within a few minutes after holding the Bimini in an upright position the decision was taken to reduce the length of the support framework by one foot. I’m only a little fellow after all.


Red Bimini.

The reduction in size of the framework, removal of the current boat name (Babe) lettering and a general clean up should be completed by around Wednesday when the boat will be towed (obviously photos of this will follow) to the Boca Del Rio area for Lewis, the engineer we have chosen , to repair the engine (a Yamaha 150HP 4 Stroke for those of you that are interested in this type of thing).

We’ve then got to get the new name put on the boat and replace the compass and rev counter, both of which are broken. Oh how I wish purchasing via eBay and Amazon were easier than it is when living in Belize. Oh, and we’ve also got to buy a fuel can and some fenders. Oh, and some new rope. It’ll be worth it in the end though when we can start exploring the western side of the island (and obviously there’ll be loads of photos when we start doing this).

I mentioned the garden clean-up earlier well Noel and Billy have really made progress since I last ‘spoke’ to you.


Billy at work with the hoe.


North-east corner of the front garden starting to look much tidier.


North-west corner.

They started a bonfire in the back garden to burn the weeds and branches.


And the bonfire got higher and higher as wheelbarrow load after wheelbarrow load was put on it.


Billy loading the wheelbarrow.

They were back in the garden yesterday and that’s when we really started to see the fruits of all of their hard work and sections of the garden really started to look tidy.


View of the front garden from the ‘cart ramp.


And from the front gate.


North-west corner. The former ‘Dingley Dell’!


Central area of the front garden.


There are still some branches to move and burn but it’s nearly there.


Southern side of the house.


Northern side of the house.

Whilst Billy and Noel were busy in the garden some more of Lloyd’s guys (I don’t know where he gets them from but he does) turned up with some landfill for the areas in the garden that we have identified need it.

The first job though was to move the rocks in front of the gate on the sea wall.


And then the boat came in.


And so did the sand.




Tomorrow Billy and Noel will finish off the garden clean-up and then start ‘laying’ the sand. And then the gravel can start going down!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1983 by ZZ Top which reached number sixty-seven in the UK Singles Chart.

“The Secret Garden ( Sweet Seduction Suite) in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I think I may have stirred myself from what has been a fairly dormant spell for me. I haven’t been totally inactive but I think it would be fair to say that I have been lackadaisical. By the way, I just love this word. It conjures up images for me of Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins.

I know that she never said the word in the film but if she had I’m sure it would have been ‘up there’ with “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (about now you are now switching to Google to find out if I spelt it right!).

I mentioned in yesterday’s edition that Rose and I (more Rose than me, I have to acknowledge) have been giving some serious thought as to how we are going to landscape our garden. There are also a number of other things that we are keen to ‘get on the go’ so yesterday morning when out on the veranda with my mug of black coffee and the iPad I curtailed my reading of The Times online and my general daydreaming.

Casting the iPad (gently of course) to one side I got myself a pad and pen and did what many of us do when we are planning something. Yes, that’s right, I started a list!

Now lists can be a good thing. You set down very clearly what you want (need) to do. You can be as detailed as you like. For example you can use one word ‘reminders’ or you can go as far as setting dates by when X (whatever X might be) is to be accomplished. You can feel a great sense of achievement as you tick each item off the list (don’t know about you but I always start off with some easy ones first) or a feeling of despondency as the new additions to the list outnumber the ones you scrub off. I bet a lot of you are feeling a sense of ‘been there, done that’ right now.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m already speaking about the emotional highs and lows of using a ‘To Do’ list before I’d even compiled it. One of my faults (yes I do have a few!) is that I am sometimes apt to run away with myself.

By the time I’d finished the list (aided by Rose who by this time had joined me out on the veranda) there were fifteen ‘things to do’ on it ranging from pay the Internet and cable bills, to withdraw money (just hate that one), to organising the labour for the garden clean up, to get prices for the gravel we want to use in the garden. Some very simple, some less so. But Rose and I were ‘up for it’.

We had a very quick discussion (this was business so no informal chats for us!) and decided that first on the agenda was the garden clean up so I ‘phoned Lloyd (remember Lloyd? He was the guy we used for landfill) and within thirty minutes he was at the house.

We took a walk around the garden explaining what we want done (this will be revealed in forthcoming editions). Lloyd quoted a price and I haggled until he reduced it which is when Rose (‘the executioner’) stepped in. Lloyd has experienced her techniques before and decided to give in graciously (another word for easily) and reduced the price again. We all shook hands (not with each other at the same time) and Lloyd set off to rustle up a guy and returned a few hours later with Noel who started work straight away.

I’d (obviously) taken some photos in advance of the clean up so that we would have some ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots.


Front garden.


North-east corner of front garden.


North-west corner.


The well cannot be seen through the bushes, weeds and branches. Rose affectionately refers to this area of the garden as Dingley Dell. For me it’s always been the secret garden.


Noel at work


with the multi purpose machete.

And Lloyd led by example for a while too.


Lloyd putting his back in to it!

The next morning Noel was joined by Billy and with the two of them on the job Rose and I set off to ‘Town. Rose to ‘hit’ the items on the list (do you remember the list? I know it must seem like a long while ago but …) and me to go for breakfast. Yes, you’ve guessed it, at Estel’s Dine By the Sea! To tell the truth I did have breakfast


Beach shot in front of Estel’s to prove it

but I then took care of four items on the list. Honest!

When we got back home Noel and Billy were still hard at it and they continued that way until the end of the day with garden showing clear signs of their efforts.




For more on the saga of the secret garden
come back for the next edition.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single (from the great Back to Back album) released in 1990 by Quincey Jones, Al B Sure!, James Ingram, El DeBarge and Barry White which reached number thirty-one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number sixty-seven in the UK Singles Chart.

“White Wedding” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Sitting out in the veranda -the western (lagoon facing) one) last Saturday morning with the obligatory ((obviously it’s not obligatory but if if I didn’t have it I dread (Rose probably more than me) what I would be like for the rest of the day)) mug of black coffee and my iPad searching for a thought that would provide the impetus to write an edition.

I sat there marvelling at how powerful a ‘tool’ the brain is ((before anyone feels compelled (and you know who you are) to fire off an email pointing out that I don’t have one) I have to stress that I’m using the word in a generic sense and not about the one that I was ‘given’)). It gives you the ability to go where you want, be who you want to be virtually instantaneously. The only shackle being how vivid your imagination is. Oh, and how much time you have to daydream.

Well since retiring and moving to Ambergris Caye I’ve got lots of time. In fact if it were a currency I’d be in the millionaire class. Might even be a billionaire. True, I’ve got stuff I either need or want to do but, within reason, it’s entirely up to me when I do it. And Rose is very good in this respect. She knows that I had a working lifetime of ‘things to be done by a certain time’. So now I ‘go with the flow’. Where (and when) the mood takes me.

You’ve now read (those of you that have stayed with it) three paragraphs and are probably starting to wonder what this preamble is all about. Has the sun got to me? Has one too many Belikins addled my brain? They may well have done but for me this is no more than an explanation as to why I haven’t written an edition for a while. I’ve just been too busy (could be deemed a contradiction of terms when used in describing me) doing other things. Oh, and a distinct absence of anything to write about that would have come remotely close to being interesting or informative. I hasten to add that the statement is made from my own perspective, not inferring that you find what I write interesting or informative.

So what has kept me so busy that I couldn’t spare an hour (I know, I know its difficult – nigh on impossible- to believe that I can that long given what I put ‘out there) to ‘knock out’ an edition?

Well on Saturday Rose and I attended ‘the’ event on the island. The event that has gripped the attention of the islanders for weeks. A pairing that was anticipated with great passion and pride. No, not the wedding of Courtney Bowen to Peter Tully but the Champions League Final between Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid.

The Belizeans on Ambergris Caye (and I’m pretty sure it would be the same on the mainland too) follow La Liga with ardour and the population is fairly well split with half supporting Real Madrid and the other half following Barcelona. This is not statically supported but is based on my sightings of Barcelona and Real Madrid team shirts worn around the island.

Now obviously the Real Madrid fans wanted their team to win. And the Barcelona fans? Well, any team other than Real Madrid. So for the day they all became Atlético Madrid fanatics!

We could have watched the game at home but we both enjoy the atmosphere you get from being amongst people for whom at that moment in time the game is ‘life or death’ so we headed to Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill.

When we got there the place was packed with many of the patrons adorned in Real Madrid apparel. Not an Atlético shirt to be seen. And most definitely no Barcelona shirts on view. Their fans were there though as became immediately and very noisy obvious when Atlético went in to the lead.

The Real Madrid fans were crestfallen and had to endure the taunts of the Barcelona fans until the ninety-third minute (with only a minute of the extra time remaining) when Real Madrid grabbed an equaliser. The bar went wild – extra time. From that point on there was only going to be one team in it .

Atlético, who had put up such a brave fight, succumbed to the constant barrage of attacks by Real Madrid and the resistance just drained out if the team as the goals went in. One, two and then three. Game over. Real Madrid lifted the trophy for the tenth time.

We didn’t get an invite to THE wedding but I’m not disappointed. I don’t even know if it was a white wedding. I’m sure it was an emotional affair but for me? Only one choice. And we made it.

Thinking though (told you my thoughts have no restraints) that we might get invited to the wedding I took a look at the Wedding Gift List. Just as well we didn’t get that invite. I mean, US$ 210 for a cup and saucer!

It hasn’t all been football for me though. Oh no. I’ve spent some time researching what locks are available locally for the steel gates we are going to have made to provide additional security for the external doors of our house and having done so we can now place the order for the gates to be made.

Rose and I have also spent time wandering (me aimlessly but Rose a study of concentration) working out how we will landscape the front and back gardens. We’ve now got our plan and the next step is to source the labour (no I’m not not doing this one – it’s a big garden) and materials we will need.

I’ve also spent a fair bit of time watching the palapa ‘grow’ for the extension of Pirate Villas. I’m full of admiration for craftsmanship of the local workers. Very often they use the most rudimentary of tools but the finished product belies this.




With the thatching for the roof finished they then moved on to ‘baby thatch’ and it what seemed like no time at all it was finished.



No reason for including this photo in this edition other than I like it. I only noticed it (I may have seen it numerous times but …) the other day.


Kinda says it all really.

Whilst on the subject of photos this seems like an opportune time to start responding to the challenge that long-time reader Julian set me a few weeks ago. Julian sent me a number of photos and ‘tasked’ me with finding the location and publishing my photo to match his. I went for the easy one first.


The food stand in Barrier Reef Drive near the corner of Pelican Street.

And my shot.


One off the list Julian!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released by Billy Idol (not my kind of music but …) in 1982 and 1985 which reached number thirty-six in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number six in the UK Singles Chart.

“What’s a Guy Gotta Do” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Apologies if yesterday’s edition gave you a restless night’s sleep wondering what plants Edward offered for sale. And whether we bought any!

Unfair of me? Maybe. But then again milking it this way gave me some subject matter for another edition. I mean what’s a guy gotta do.

I’m of course going to let you know what decisions we made but you’ll have to wait a while longer because by popular demand (OK so only a few people asked) I’m first going to give you an update on Ziggy who left us last Sunday to return (temporarily) to his home at Price Barracks, Ladyville.

As an honorary member of BATSUB the Arsenal shirt had to be discarded (only for a little while mind) and replaced with his ‘uniform’.


On ‘parade’ in his BATSUB T-shirt. Smart, eh!

And he was back to work in no time at all.


But it’s not all work and no play and as a reward for being a good boy he got a visit to Happy Tails in Belize City for a haircut, shampoo and pedicure.


“But I look good already”.


“(Bow) Wow. Looking good”.

With all of the exertions necessary to look good there was only one thing for it, a nap. No, not a catnap, but a Ziggynap!


Fully refreshed (and looking good) it was time to get back to work.


Sentry Duty. “I may not look alert but I’m like a coiled spring”.

You’ve shown great patience so now I’ll tell all about Edward and the plants he had on offer and which – to end the suspense- we bought.

He had a ‘bunch’ of Elephant Ears (or Colocasia to give the correct name)


Elephant Ears

and some Moss Roses (or the Portulaca grandiflora)


Edward named his prices. I stepped back a few feet (I know my place) leaving Rose in the key negotiating position as she swept in to action. Edward has ‘faced’ Rose before but I think he had forgotten how tenacious and relentless she can be. Her motto? ‘ take no prisoners’. And she didn’t because Edward, wilted (something that we -obviously do not want to happen to the plants) before my very eyes under the persistent pressure from Rose.

He willingly took the price, and money, she offered, brought the plants in to the front garden and escaped before he lost the shirt on his back (I’m convinced Rose had a bag creation in mind for it!).

We bought six of each of the plants and yesterday we planted the Elephant Ears.


First one in.

And then the remaining five.


We’ve still got the six Moss Roses to plant


but we are going to ‘bring them on’ out on the veranda until we decide exactly where we are going to plant them. That way when I have my early morning coffee I’ll always have Rose with me. Actually I’ll have six with me. And I thought I struck lucky getting one!

I mentioned in a previous edition that very shortly (thirty- first of May actually) Rose and I celebrate our second anniversary of living on Ambergris Caye. Thinking about this when out on the veranda this morning I was reminded of something a long-time acquaintance on the island said to us after we had been here around a year.

She (and she will remain anonymous) told us that she never really spent much time getting to know people that moved here until they’d been here for two years. She went on to explain that two years is somewhat of a watershed or a barometer. Last two years and you’re likely ‘in’ for the long run. So many, she recounted, realise before the two years are up that island life (or this island life) isn’t for them and they up sticks and move.

With just over a week to go its no watershed moment for us. Well we’ve got the Moss Roses to plant, haven’t we!

The headline for today’s edition is based in the single released in 2004 by Joe Nichols which reached number sixty-four in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number four in the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

“The Gambler” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

With a forty-five thousand gallon rainwater collection tank under our house I really shouldn’t have been concerning myself with thoughts (concerns?) over whether there was enough water to last until the rainy season begins.

I think its a general trait though that the older you get the more you think (worry) about whether you have enough of ‘this’ or ‘that’. Whatever ‘this’ or ‘that’ might be.

Now when you’re young?

Well I don’t know about you but when I was young I rarely expended much more thought or effort thinking about the future than what I was going to do that day or night. Or, if I was really in a forward thinking mood (rare by the way), I might have given some thought to what I could do at the weekend or where I might like to go for my summer holiday. But that was about the full extent of my contemplation.

This predisposition of thinking of and planning for not much further ahead than the next weekend diminishes as each year goes by. For me it started when I decided that I wanted a car and it then progressed to wanting my own house. The years passed by – and oh don’t they pass by quickly the older you get. I know they all contain 365 days (leap years aside) but …. Well I’m sure you know what I mean- and then the focus was on retirement. Did we have the right pension plans? Could we up sticks and move to Ambergris Caye, Belize?

Well long-time readers will know that we did make the move to Belize and in fact in just nine dats time we will celebrate our second anniversary of landing on the island. So, mission accomplished, plan executed. Now only time will tell if all of the deliberations surrounding pension planning prove to have been correct.

But now I don’t worry about the pensions. Maybe I should, but I don’t. Oh no. I worry about whether we have enough water. Will the water we captured during the rainy season last us through the dry season? Or will I have to organise a delivery via Belize Water Services?

Why don’t I just check the water level in the tank, you’re thinking. And if you are then you have a valid, and very practical and common sense view. But then I’ve always liked a gamble. I am the gambler! I must admit, however, that I was starting to doubt the wisdom of the bet I had made with myself (can’t lose really, can you!) until the rain came down last Saturday. I still had some remaining doubts (concerns I suppose) until yesterday when I was sitting out on the veranda – yes I had my mug of black coffee and the iPad with me – and just before 06.00 hours the sky became very grey and down the rain came (stupid expression really because I’ve never seen it go up).


Looking in a north westerly direction.


Looking east over a very grey and choppy Caribbean Sea. Note the guy on the bike. Obviously a Boy Scout – he was prepared!

And then the sight that I really enjoyed


the veranda overflow pipes going in to action!

The rain abated for a while and I took advantage of this to head in to town for? Yes, you guessed it, breakfast at Estel’s Dine By the Sea. and was pleased, and pleasantly surprised when I got there to find that I had the choice of which table to sit at. Why so pleased? I expected it to rain again, that’s why and there are only two tables at which you have a good chance of keeping dry when it rains. So I (I’ve frequented the place enough to have learnt something) chose one of them.

Good choice because within minutes of getting my order the rain came down again.


but from my seat at one of the central tables near the doorways, I kept dry. The same could not be said though for the people at tables closest to the beachfront!

With breakfast over I went to RF & G Insurance agent’s (Southwind Properties) office in Barrier Reef Drive to renew the insurance for the golf cart and then on to the a San Pedro Town Council’s office to renew the pass for the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge. Well, I didn’t go to ‘Town just for breakfast (that’s what I told Rose anyway!).


RF & G office in a , by then, very dry and sunny Barrier Reef Drive.

When I got home I found that Rose had made good use of her time whilst I had been absent. She’d made herself another bag.


Her latest very colourful creation made with material sourced locally, which if I do say so myself (and not because I have a strong leaning towards self-preservation) demonstrates just how talented and creative she is.

I hadn’t been home for too long when Lloyd ( remember him? He built the rock walls and land filled our adjacent lot for us) came to the house to discuss the work that we are going to have done on the garden. Essentially this will entail a hell of lot of weeding, a little bit of sand fill and the laying of a gravel path from the front gate to the ramp. He’ll come back to us in a few days and then we can start haggling!

Lloyd hadn’t been gone too long when Edward turned up. Do you remember Edward? No. Well Edward is the guy that Rose and I have bought quite a few plants from and he had a few more for us this time but you’ll have to wait until the next edition to find out what plants he had to sell. And if we bought them. Is the suspense killing you? Tough!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1978 by Kenny Rogers which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 Country Singles chart, number sixteen in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number twenty-two in the UK Singles Chart.

“Teardrops” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Sitting out on the first floor western (lagoon facing) veranda last Friday morning with the ‘must have’ mug of black coffee (unsweetened) , my iPad and Ziggy the drop in temperature was quite noticeable.

I’d heard a few days before that a cold front was on the way and the previous night before we went to bed the first signs of it were apparent. The temperature had dropped slightly, the wind from the north-west had whipped up and there were spasmodic flashes of lightning. The lightning was obviously followed by rain at some point during the night (I haven’t got a clue as to what time this might have been because by then I was dreaming of Thomas Vermaelen, the Arsenal captain, holding the FA Cup aloft) because there were small puddles on the veranda and (it may have been caused the the infusion of caffeine) there was an iridescent quality about the lagoon.

Nearly stationery (well you don’t move that much using an iPad or picking up a mug of coffee) in my chair on the veranda I could feel the cold front. And I had a cold back too to prove it. I wasn’t tempted to go grab a sweat top because although I must have acclimatised to some extent I still find it warm here even when the temperature drops.

On the drive in to ‘Town for breakfast (where else but at Estel’s Dine By the Sea) it was obvious that the locals were feeling the cold with many of them attired in sweat tops and hoodies. Not so cold though that it prevented some of them mounting a charity drive in Pescador Drive for a young child requiring medical treatment.

There’s little doubt that the island has its less savoury aspects with fairly frequent (well, one is too frequent) incidents of burglary or, worse still, shootings. But it has its redeeming side too and the manner in which the community rallies together to help the more needy demonstrates very forcibly and tangibly that on Ambergris Caye there is a community with heart and compassion. A sizeable number of people that care and are willing to get up and do something. A facet of human nature that I didn’t experience too often in my previous home of London in the UK.

This state of euphoria took on a change for the worse though when I got home and I was reminded of something my Dad very often said to me. “Don’t shit on your own doorstep son” he used to say. He wasn’t a particularly well educated man. He could’nt read or write very well. He didn’t say a lot. But when he did say something it normally made sense and was sound advice.

So why was I reminded of this? Well when I got home I spent some time on the first floor’s eastern veranda and whilst there I saw a golf cart driven by an expat living at Barrier Reef Resort pull onto the beachfront lot directly opposite us. Nothing strange about this, loads of locals and tourists alike do the same thing. It’s a great view from there. But then I saw that the dog sitting on the front seat was ushered off the cart by the expat to ‘ do its business’. And it did. Twice.

The expat then did no more than call the dog to get back on the cart. And it did and she drove back in the direction of where she lives. No thought let alone an attempt of clearing up after her pet. Now I know what my Dad used to tell me but in her case he would have said to her “Do shit on your own doorstep. And clean up afterwards”.

Now I don’t know if this lady reads my blog but if you do (and I hope you do) why don’t you clear up the mess after your dog. The area you chose as its toilet is used by many, many people for far more pleasurable things. Your actions are selfish, thoughtless, unhygienic and just damn lazy.

I’m pleased to say that the sour taste in my mouth didn’t remain with me too long because in the late afternoon, after preparing the ground floor apartment for them, Rose and I went to ‘Town to collect Frank (Ziggy’s ‘Dad’) and Graham who arrived on the 17.30 hours Maya Island Air flight from the Municipal Airport.

I was pleased to see Frank again and really pleased to meet Graham for the first time but this pleasure was intensified when, upon getting to our house, Frank (only after Ziggy had licked him frantically) opened his rucksack to reveal that he had a present for me.


Bassetts Jelly Babies and Licorice Allsorts !

The sweets (candy for non UK readers) were a present from Ian who, after serving as a member of BATSUB for eight months, has returned to the UK. THANK YOU Ian for these ‘delicacies’ which I will eke out for months (that is as long as I don’t let Rose get her hands on them!).

In the evening all four of us went out for a bit of imbibing. Well it would have been ungracious not to have done, wouldn’t it!

After a good night’s sleep we were all ready for a breakfast before the FA Cup Final ,featuring our team Arsenal,started and we were joined for this by Peter (aka Pedro of Pedro’s Hotel) who is a fellow Arsenal fan.

Now the breakfast at Estel’s is good -in fact very good- but the fayre of scrabbled eggs, Cumberland sausages, bacon, beans (Heinz
of course) and toast that Rose presented us with was the perfect preparation for the drama and excitement that lay before us. Especially when it was supplemented with champagne.

We all settled down to watch the game but within eight minutes we were (well Rose, Peter and I were anyway) wallowing in the depths of despair as Arsenal went two- nil down.

It looked like it was all over before it had really begun until Rose suddenly jumped up and ran upstairs, returning very quickly wearing an Arsenal shirt. Within minutes Arsenal scored.

Arsenal continued to press, and press hard, for an equaliser but try as they might it just would not come. Rose, deciding that drastic action was required, jumped up and once again ran up the stairs, returning within minutes having changed to wearing an Arsenal tracksuit top.


Said tracksuit top as modelled by Ziggy.

Would it work? Yes it did because within minutes Arsenal got the important second and equalising goal. Game on!

From that point on it was ‘all’ Arsenal (yes, I am biased) but try as they might they couldn’t get the third goal and the game went to extra time and it looked as if the match was going to be decided by penalties.

Rose jumped up again. What could she do? I knew that she didn’t have any more Arsenal apparel.

Rose – of course – knew this too but she is ‘ not just a pretty face’! She returned with her toy cat (I know she’s old enough to know better but …) named Rosiky (for those of you that don’t know Tomas Rosiky is an Arsenal player) and it worked. Aaron Ramsey scored a sublime goal in the 109 minute of the match. Time to finish off the champagne and start on the Belikin!


Yes, there were only five of us!

It was a really enjoyable day and went a little way to helping us ‘forget’ that Ziggy was about to leave us but we got a stark reminder the next day when Frank started to pack Ziggy’s stuff


and then it was time to ‘hit’ the road to go to the Belize Water Taxi dock.


A mournful looking Rose.


“Sitting comfortably?”.


Rose with Ziggy whilst Frank bought the tickets.

We both know that Ziggy is coming back but for Rose the parting was just too much, the teardrops started to fall.


Heading to the boat.


“See you soon Ziggy”.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single (a great rendition if you haven’t heard it) released in 1988 by Womack & Womack which reached number three in the UK Singles Chart.

“SOS” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Ziggy here because John is taking the day off today. He mumbled something about writer’s block before the iPad was pushed my way. So here I am out on the veranda (the larger one facing the lagoon) with my bowl of water (no additives) and this borrowed iPad.

I didn’t start on this edition straight away though. Oh no. I mean I’ve waited nearly two weeks to collar the iPad and I was able to spend a little time on Facebook -it was good to see how my new found friend Scruffy Potlicker is settling in his new home in Minnesota (wherever that might be)- and then respond to some emails. With the administrative stuff out of the way I logged in to my subscription to Modern Dog magazine and spent a very enjoyable half an hour pawing (I know its ‘pore’ but this is my attempt at humour) over the pages.

I’m now in to the forth week of my holiday here on Ambergris Caye with Rose (she’s the really nice one) and John (he shouts at me sometimes) and I must say that I’ve had a thoroughly nice time and I’m pretty well convinced that I want to come back and live here permanently when my Dad, Frank, moves to Germany for his next posting with the British Army.

I think I’ve done enough to make them want me to come back. For a start when they let me sleep inside at night I immediately stopped scratching the front door. I didn’t enjoy causing damage like that but the doleful eyes just didn’t do the trick when they decided it was time for bed. They were very dogmatic about it until I ‘hit’ on the door idea. They were determined but so was I. See, doggedness does pay off!

I’ve now got virtually a free rein of the place. I’m not allowed in the kitchen and Rose has put a ‘no go’ sign on the floor to remind me


and I’m not allowed in their bedroom. But I can ‘live’ with it. I mean it’s not as if there’s a pawcity of other rooms for me to go and explore. And then there’s the veranda! I love it out there. I get a great view of all that is mine – well it will be come August – and the breeze is great. It’s also a fantastic vantage point for iguana hunting. For all of the iguana lovers out there don’t worry, I haven’t caught one yet. I’m getting closer though!

On Sunday we had some excitement when we (well I think it was me actually) spotted


Me at my observation post

a catamaran close to the shoreline that had either experienced engine trouble or had got stuck in the shallow water.


The stranded boat probably issued an SOS because motor boats quickly came to offer assistance





The ‘rescue’ boats gave up after awhile but by then I was getting bored and went to chase iguanas. Much more interesting. Rose though,and I’m now starting to think of her as more like my new Mom, decided that she’d repair my bed for me.


I think that when I was much, much younger I must have bitten it quite a lot and I’ve got to admit that it was looking a little dog-eared. Well it would, wouldn’t it! A couple of minutes of Rose, a needle and some cotton and … voilà (see, I’ve even picked up some French since being here) . It looked like new.


Failing to grab myself an iguana I joined John on the veranda to sit and watch the guys thatching the roof for the house next to ours (well it will be ‘ours’ when I move here permanently).



He (John that is) finds it very interesting but I’ve got to admit that I find a couple of guys playing around with bits of trees a bit boring and I was well happy when Rose put on a long sleeved shirt. Why? Well, because this means we’re going to the garden to play catch. This is great fun. Rose throws a ball and I run get it and take it back to her. She throws it and I bring it back. It’s great fun. You should try it some time.

I’m bringing this edition to a close because I just picked up from my Facebook page that my Dad is coming to Ambergris Caye on Friday afternoon to come and get me. I’m really looking forward to seeing him again. Before we head home though we’re all going to watch the FA Cup Final on Saturday morning when my team Arsenal take on Hull City. Apparently we’re all going to have a pre match breakfast and I’ve heard talk of the champagne (whatever that might be) making an appearance.

Anyway it’ll be awhile before I blog again but I just know I’ll be back. This is only a slight paws in my journalistic career.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1975 by ABBA which reached number six in the UK Singles Chart and number fifteen in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Sitting on the veranda – the western or lagoon facing one – this morning with my mug of black coffee (no sugar) and the iPad I did what I normally do first and read The Times online.

I don’t know why but I nearly always start off by reading the obituaries first. A morbid curiosity on my part? I don’t think so. I actually do enjoy reading the biographies of the famous and not so famous. Sometimes its the achievements of the latter that I find more interesting and (sometimes) more uplifting. The greatest pleasure I get though is being in a position to read them. Life is good and all that …

Having finished reading The Times I switched to Facebook and my feeling of joie de vivre was knocked sideways when I read the following comment that had been posted in respect of yesterday’s edition :

“If you are going to make the claim that you are a “writer,” be cognizant of your spelling, use of punctuation, and grammar…and most importantly, don’t be a retard!”.

My initial reaction was irritation but this was quickly followed and replaced by anger. What had I done to upset someone so much that they felt compelled to make public such views. What could I do in retaliation? But then my mind wandered a little -it’s apt to do that a bit nowadays – back to the days when I worked for News international and I was in attendance at a ‘Sun editorial meeting.

Kelvin MacKenzie, the Editor (and the best the newspaper has had or will ever have in my opinion) was in full flow, cajoling his team to “just f@&£#%*g go out and get the exclusives” when the phone rang. He stopped issuing his words of ‘encouragement’ (sic) and picked up the ‘phone and answered it without proffering his name to the caller.

There must have been at least twenty of us in the room at the time – all of them crack journalists (well at least that’s what they told me they were) apart from me (I was involved in the unglamorous part of the business organising delivery to the market and managing relationships with the vendors) – and we all grasped at roughly the same time that the caller had ‘phoned to complain about something that had appeared in the newspaper that morning. Wrong move with the fearsome Kelvin. He cared passionately about ‘his’ newspaper (as we all did I believe) and would not have a bad thing said about it.

By this time Kelvin had put the ‘phone on speaker and without further ado he told the caller (a man) that he was banned from ever buying The Sun again. Now bear in mind that this incident took place in the mid eighties/early nineties, long before the advent of online newspapers. The Sun, along with all of the other (lesser) newspapers, was sold by the likes of street vendors, retail outlets, supermarkets, etc. Sales channels over which we could exercise relatively little control. I mean how could Kelvin prevent this person from buying The Sun at one of the fifty thousand selling points?

Well he couldn’t but this fact didn’t dawn on the caller (some said that The Sun never had the brightest readers!) and he immediately became extremely apologetic culminating in him begging to be allowed to be able to continue buying the newspaper. Kelvin accepted his apology and told him that he had reduced the ban from lifetime to a month. The call ended and we were all free to laugh. And we did. We never did find out though if he stopped buying The Sun for a month!

My mind then wandered a bit further back in time to the early seventies when I joined News Group Newspapers, the company that Rupert Murdoch created not long after entering the British newspaper market. This period for me was amongst the most enjoyable of a very enjoyable life working in the newspaper industry. We were the upstart company. The company that defied conventional wisdom. The company that wanted to rewrite the rules.

We were to national newspaper publishing what Millwall FC were (still are for that matter) to English football. Millwall is an unglamorous club in south-east London with a loyal fan base of working class origin, many of the forebears being dock workers. In the nineteen seventies the club’s fans came in for intense criticism by the British media and the fans response was the “No one likes us, we don’t care” chant. That’s how we felt at News Group Newspapers *and we adopted the chant as our mantra.

Now what’s this got to do with the Facebook comment you’re thinking. Well I’ve still got that mantra and if I could ‘do a Kelvin’ I would ban the person from reading my stuff. But I can’t because , like for Kelvin before me, it’s ‘out there’!

With my ‘walk back in to time’ finished I returned to Facebook and posted the following response:

“Well thank you. I didn’t make a claim to be a writer, I said that I write. Given your comments it is patently clear that you do not like what I write. So, a smile solution for you. Don’t read it. You won’t me miss me and I will not miss you”.

I mentioned the incident to Rose when she came to spend time with me on the veranda and her immediate response was “Don’t you worry ’bout a thing” (she actually said “about a thing” but …).

And you know what? She was absolutely right because within just over two hours I received an apology and a retraction.

Enough of your past already, you’re probably thinking (actually I bet you were thinking it some while ago – probably around the second paragraph), what about Ambergris Caye. So for those of you thinking that thought, a few photos.


Roof trusses finished for extension to Pirate Villas.

Time for the thatching to begin.


Get the thatch up to the top floor.


Thatching underway.


Taking shape.


Time for the female touch. Bear in mind she is around thirty-five feet above ground level.

And while I was watching the thatching? Well Rose and Ziggy were looking the other way.


“Something I said?”.

The headline for today’s (rather different edition) is based on the single released in 1973 by Stevie Wonder which reached number sixteen in the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1973.

* The Sun grew to become the largest selling daily newspaper in Britain and at one time sold over 4.3 million copies a day. So no one liked us?

“Who’s Sorry Now” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Since I’ve been writing this blog I’ve slowly -I think I may have mentioned before that nearly everything I do now appears to be done slowly (in comparison to when I was a bit younger that is)- realised why writers (well I do write. OK it will never be described as literature but I do write) are often described as ‘suffering from writer’s cramp’.

When I first started this blog it was (relatively) easy. I mean what could be much simpler than documenting (and ‘throwing in’ a few photos) what took place on the build of our house on Ambergris Caye the previous day. I mean, it virtually wrote itself! But the build of the house was finished last November and I now need things to inspire (allow me to indulge myself for a misconceived and fanciful moment or two trying to delude myself that there is anything remotely bordering on creativity for the stuff that I put ‘out there’) me to write something.

My ‘me time’ on the veranda in the early morning with the mug of black coffee and the iPad sometimes does the trick. I found myself racking my brain (OK that didn’t take long did it) but nothing. Or “nada” as they say here. A distinct absence of anything remotely close to stirring me in to action that is until I got demands (OK, a gentle hint) from my readers (OK, one reader -and thank you for that Kristina) that I put an edition out. Inspiration sometimes comes from the most unlikely of places, things or people ! So here goes but don’t blame me. Oh no, blame Kristina !

Had I known that I could be so easily persuaded (read a push-over) I would have got out there and taken some photos of the tried and trusted. You know, a photo of the Palapa Bar, a beach shot looking out at the Caribbean, breakfast on a plate at Estel’s Dine By the Sea (not surprisingly I’ve got loads of those but no recycling for me. Oh no, it’s got to be authentic) or a colourful sign. You know the kind of thing. But I didn’t because it’s normally my will that dictates when I publish an edition, it’s not something that is determined by the will of others. That is until today. The ego is an easily manipulated thing isn’t it!

So with very few photos and even fewer words in mind what do I write about that might come remotely close to being interesting? Or informative? Or amusing? And if I really strike oil (can’t say that I ever have though), all three. I know, I’ll tell you about what I did yesterday. Still with me? Good, I’ll proceed then.

Just under a year ago (doesn’t time fly when you are enjoying yourself!) we got our golf cart under the Qualified Retirement Program and the permit to drive it on the streets and roads (I know, I know that such words should not be used to describe some of the vehicular routes on the island) expires at the end of the month. Never being one to put off today (don’t ask Rose for a view on this though!) what you can do tomorrow (or the last day of the month in this case) I went to the San PedroTown Council offices in Barrier Reef Drive and went straight to the Transport Department on the ground floor where I presented the Certificate of Title.


I explained to the lady behind the desk that I wanted to renew my golf cart permit. She quickly wrote on a small slip, handed me it and told me to go to the Cashier on the floor above. Always being one who does what I’m told (another one not to ask Rose’s opinion about) I hastily left her office, climbed the stairs outside the building, re-entered the building, went to the Cashier’s booth, handed the slip to Gina along with BZ$ 185 (for those interested in such things BZ$ 135 is for the year’s permit and the remaining BZ$ 50 is for the plastic permit sticker that you affix to the inside of the roof of your cart. BZ$ 50 for a sticker I ‘hear’ you thinking. Well it does have adhesive on the back of it. Oh to be the sticker printer!). Gina, all smiles as ever (I think she really, and I mean REALLY, enjoys taking money) filled out a receipt which she handed to me whilst telling me to take it to the Transport Department.

Still with me? Yes. Oh good.

Out the building, down the stairs, back in to the building and in to the Transport Department where I handed over my receipt whereupon the lady behind the desk completed writing on a form which she then handed to me and told me to take to the office across the corridor. Dutiful as ever (!) I did as I was told. Well I wanted the permit, didn’t I.

The guy in the office took the form, looked at it very quickly and asked if I had my golf cart with me. With me nodding furiously in the affirmative he got up from his chair and gestured me in the direction of getting out of his office. Quick as always (and another one not to get Rose’s opinion on) I realised that he wanted to look at my cart so I quickly led the way.

We got to the cart , which I’d sensibly (yep, another one not to contact Rose about) parked outside the offices, and he pressed the hooter (horn for non UK readers). It worked. He then pressed the light switch and then walked around the cart checking to see if they all worked. They did. He then scribbled something on the form, gave it to me and told me to take it to the Transport Department. And guess what, I did and two minutes later I had the sticker in my hand and the permit had been renewed for another year. Time spent in and out of offices, up and down stairs? Ten minutes. But it had seemed much longer. Oh so much longer.

Spellbinding. Enthralling. Captivating. Interesting. Informative. Yep, you’re right, none of these could be used to describe what I’ve written about. But I did warn you that I hadn’t felt that I had anything worth writing about (so what about all the previous editions you’re thinking. Why no apology/disclaimer for them?).

On leaving the ‘Town Council, offices I headed south to the Port of Belize office to obtain copies of the necessary paperwork (no it couldn’t be emailed to me!) for the registration of the boat we are in the process of buying. I did have the camera with me (don’t know why but I did) and took a few photos on the way (stopping the golf cart first of course) which I’ll include now in the hope of injecting something mildly interesting in to this edition.


Interesting house in the DFC (Development Finance Corporation) area with wooden birds hung outside.





Canal in the DFC area. Looks more like a river doesn’t it.


Sizeable development. Haven’t a clue what it is. And yes, if I was anything like a serious blogger Id find out. But I’m not, so it’s unlikely I will.

What else can I include to pad this out? I know, some photos of Ziggy ((since he’s got his own Facebook page (clever little chap isn’t he) he’s got quite a following))

In preparation for Arsenal’s upcoming appearance in the F A Cup Final (17 May for those of you who are interested) Ziggy has spent a little time trying to decide which team shirt he will wear on the day.


“I think that red suits me”.


“But then again I do look good in white”.

Well that’s it, I’ve suffered enough ((and so have you you’re (understandably) thinking)). Time to bring this to an end. I did warn you. So who’s sorry now Kristina?

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1958 by Connie Francis which reached number four in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number one in the UK Singles Chart.

“Goin’ Out of My Head” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

As we get ever closer to the rainy season the weather this week has, at times, been somewhat muggy. Hot days, cloudy skies, periods of hardly any breeze and humidity high and the ‘threat’ rain for around the last three days. Not complaining, just giving you some background information.

Yesterday morning (Friday that is) at around 04.00 hours (give or take ten minutes) the sky was lit up by flashes of lightening (no I wasn’t at all tempted to rush to get my camera , this blogging is, after all, a fun thing for me. Now if I was taking it seriously? Well that would be a whole different matter). This continued for around ten minutes and was then joined by thunder which was followed shortly after by rain. At this time I decided to get up. No not to grab the camera but a mug of coffee and my iPad. Time for ‘me’ time on the veranda.

It didn’t rain particularly hard but it did rain -off and on – for around four hours. Enough to put a reasonable number of ‘showers worth’ in the rainwater collection tank beneath the house. I know that our tank holds 45,000 gallons and it was full to the brim when the rain eventually stopped in January and all of the calculations that I carried out regarding per capita usage indicated that a tank that size should be more than enough for Rose and I but it hasn’t stopped me occasion wondering if we will have enough to last!

Around 07.00 hours after shaving, showering and getting dressed I grabbed the rainwear and headed off to breakfast at Estel’s Dine By the Sea and we I got there was very pleased to find that it was open.


In the dry at Estel’s.

Oh, whilst talking about Estel’s I got the price comparison in the previous edition wrong ((I’ve mentioned before that most if the attributes (who am I kidding) I had when working appear to be diminishing rapidly)). The price differential for VERY (got to emphasise this) similar breakfasts at Estel’s and Lily’s Treasure Chest is just over thirty-eight percent (yes, 38%) in favour of Estel’s. Not to be sniffed at. Slightly less than three breakfasts at Estel’s and not Lily’s and you’ve got a ‘free’ one!

I’m running away with myself though. I haven’t told you about the close brush with stardom that Rose and I nearly had.

On Thursday evening we had just pulled in to the car(t) park in front of Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill ( what else were we going to do at that time of day!) when a cart pulled in sharply behind us and we heard an American accent crying out ” Hey guys what are you doing tomorrow?” Turning around Rose (ever cautious, no ‘read’ suspicious) responded with ” Why, what timeshare are you from? Captain Morgan’s?”. “How would you like to spend the morning at a mansion? I’m shooting an advert for the Australian lottery at Wataview and I’m looking for a couple to play the lucky Australian couple”. We thanked him but declined his offer. It left me wondering though if I look like I come from convict stock!

So I came within a whisker of releasing and realising that latent desire and obvious ability to be a star of the screen! We believe that the guy who wanted to make stars of us was Ben Popik of Island Films.

Oh before I forget we also got to meet another reader of my blog, Donna Ehart and her husband Timm who introduced themselves to us. Donna and Timm recently opened The Coconut Cafe in Coconut Drive (you can find it opposite Ramon’s Village) and are aiming to move here permanently in December.


Entrance to The Coconut Cafe.


A tranquil seating area away from the noise of the road. You know that a place is good when the owner eats there. Donna is the one wearing the pink T shirt.

Donna and Timm are holding an Open House on Thursday and very kindly invited Rose and I


“We’ll be there”.

Now where was I? Oh yes, Friday. When I got home from breakfast I noticed that we are going to have another thatched roof near us. This one will be the roof for the extension to Pirate Villas.


Delivering the thatch.


Unloading the trailer. It’s about time she got a rest!


And then it was time to get the roof trusses in place



And then the ‘shortest’ route up with the wood


And then the framework for the roof started to take shape.




Scary, eh.


In the early afternoon Rose and I headed off to Captain Shark’s Boatyard to choose the colour for the Bimini (a brightish red which is the closest we can get to an Arsenal red) we are going to have made for our boat and the colour (red again but a rather dull red) for the anti foul. Whilst we were there we took the opportunity of having a good look at the interior of the boat to determine what gauges we need to replace


Nearly all of them I’m sorry to say.

The rest of the interior though looks pretty good




We’re going to change the colour of the seat (Rose will make the cover) to, yes you’ve guessed it, red. To match the Bimini.

And given that the boat is now ours (well it will be when I’ve paid the money) we’ve already started the renaming process.


We’re going to call it Gunner – an Arsenal fan is a Gunner. Sad isn’t it!

On the way home we came across a new (well to us anyway) fruit and vegetable stand on the Corner of Coconut Drive and Blake Street


and BZ$17 later we had all of this


I just love buying something off the back of a lorry!

Well after this somewhat higgledy-piggledy edition I may take a rest tomorrow and give Ziggy another go. He’s be at me all week. I think it’s gone to his head. Me? I’m just goin out of my head!

The headline for today’s (more rambling than usual) edition is based on the single released in 1964 by Little Anthony & the Imperials which reached number six in the US Billboard Hot 100.