“Time to Say Goodbye” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I know that I’m relatively new to this blogging malarkey but even if I do say so myself I’ve taken to it like the proverbial “duck to water.”

Commandeer the iPad (not too difficult because John tends to leave his around within easy access of me), whack out a couple of paragraphs. Include a few photos ((OK, I haven’t mastered using either of his two cameras yet (I will though) so I have to depend on others to take them for me)) and, voila – put it “out there” and hope someone reads it.

That’s been the case with my previous few editions but this one? Well, that’s an entirely different matter.

I knew that I was going to be leaving my Dad Frank. He told me a few months ago when he was informed that his time serving as a member of the British Army had been extended by two years that I could not go with him, as we’d planned, to live in Scotland with him.

I also knew that I’d be moving to live with Rose and John on Ambergris Caye. Regular readers will probably remember that I stayed with them for a month earlier this year when my Dad returned to the UK for a holiday.

So I knew what was ahead of me but this prior knowledge didn’t prepare me for how I felt on Saturday morning as Dad and our BATSUB colleagues assembled my worldly possessions and we set off from Price Barracks which has been my home for the last two years to catch the 09.00 hours Belize Water Taxi service to San Pedro.

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“Goodbye BATSUB.”

It felt really, really strange as we pulled out of the camp. I’d been demobbed. I was no longer in the Army. I knew that I was going to a nice new home. Rose (especially Rose) and John are nice people but it couldn’t help me from feeling sad. Very sad. And I knew that Dad felt the same.

The boat trip over seemed to take ages. It didn’t take any longer than usual but it just seemed to drag on and on but then we were there.

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And from the rear of the boat

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Dad and I could see John waiting for us.

It took a while to off-load my stuff, including my kennel

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And on to John’s golf cart.

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I went with Tod and his Dad Sean to Pedro’s Hotel and John and my Dad Frank took my stuff to my new home.

In the afternoon we went to the Palapa Bar & Grill for a swim

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and then I had a bite to eat.

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“Not the healthiest if meals but I just knew that I’d run or swim it off!”

But not before I’d shown that I can do the old “Give me your paw” party trick.

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After a good swim it was back to Pedro’s Hotel so that Dad could go on the Poker Run. I stayed in and had a good sleep. I deserved it!

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You can’t see them but that’s John and Rose (I like her) racing to the next venue on our golf cart. The back seat is mine, all mine.

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“See.”

The next morning I spent time with Dad preparing to say goodbye. We were both very sad but when you’re in the Army you get used to moving around and saying goodbye. I’m not in the Army anymore so they have taken this dog out of the Army. But … they’ll never take the Army out of this dog!

We then went with Tod and Sean to meet Rose and John at Estel’s Dine By the Sea for a late (well very late actually) breakfast but then it was time to say goodbye to my Dad and Rose and John took me back to my new home where I found that my kennel was on the first floor veranda. The eastern (Caribbean Sea) facing one if you’re interested.

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“Not a bad location.”

But I don’t think I’m going to spend much time in there. I think I prefer this!

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After a little rest and a drink of water (you’ve got to drink lots of water when you’re in the Tropics) we went to ‘Town again to meet up with Geordie (an ex colleague of mine from BATSUB) and his daughters Jamie and Leah who are over here on holiday.

It was good to see them and it took my mind off of saying goodbye to Dad.

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But all too soon it was time for them to catch the 17.00 hours Maya Island Air so that they could get back to Price Barracks and John took them around to the check in desk.

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“There’s always time for a selfie!”

The headline for today’s very sad edition is based on the single released in 1996 by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman which reached number two in the UK Singles Chart.

“Dedicated to the One I Love” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I wrote this towards the end of July and thought that I had published it but obviously the emotional roller coaster I was on that weekend left me in a state of confusion and …

But as I’ve heard John say quite a few times to Rose (she really is rather nice) “Better late than never”.

After my exertions early last week producing an edition I took a well deserved rest. I’m still fairly young and am definitely a novice when it comes to finding my way around John’s iPad (well any iPad actually). I think I found this blogging thing a bit more of a challenge than I initially thought it would be. I suppose that’s understandable though really given that my previous experience with and knowledge of the written word has been with Army reports. But I’ve enjoyed some “R and R” ( that’s an Army term referring to “rest and recuperation”) and I’m ready to give it another go.

I spent quite a lot of time during the week getting to know Rose ( I now like her quite a lot) and John a bit more and on the Tuesday I helped them to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They didn’t do this in a big way. Actually it was a rather low key affair but I enjoyed it nonetheless and especially when all three of us spent some time looking at some old photographs of the two of them.

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They told me that this one was taken in 1984 when they were on holiday on the island of Kos which, if you’re not aware (and I wasn’t) is in Greece.

It wasn’t all about their special day though because when they went out shopping (leaving me behind to guard our house) they bought some presents (well that’s what they told me they are) back with them.

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A nice brush to keep my coat (and me) looking good. And

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this thing that they keep walking around the garden holding. I know that they want me to “do my stuff” in the south west corner of the back garden but I’m enjoying watching them so I think I’ll keep it this way for a week or so before I “see the light.” And then I’ll be in for some treats!

In the afternoon John let everyone in the area know that “the Zigster” is now in residence when he put my sign up on the front fence.

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“Up a bit.”

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“Think I’d like ‘dog’ replaced with ‘Ziggy’!”

I’ve -as you’d imagine – spent lots of time in my new garden and have found just the spot for when John is out there weeding.

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“What idiot goes out in the sun when it’s hot?”

On Thursday Rose and John took me for my first ride in our boat Gunner. I very quickly found my spot in the shade of the Bimini.

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We hadn’t been going very long when John had to get out of the boat and push.

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There are some very shallow spots on the lagoon side!

On Friday I helped (well I tried to help!) Rose (I really, really like her) and John tidy up the ground floor apartment. We dusted and then washed the floors and made up the beds ready for the visit of my BATSUB ex-colleague Geordie and his daughters Jamie Louise and Leah Melissa who were coming over to stay with us for a few days.

On Saturday Rose and John went in to ‘Town to pick them up from the airport and bring them back to our house where I helped to settle them in very quickly. They’re around my age so we get on like a house on fire.

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Leah is on the right and Jaime is on the right. Me? I’m the good looking guy in the middle!

John hadn’t been home long before he went out again but returned around forty minutes later with … my Dad Frank. He’d come over to Ambergris Caye to spend his last weekend in Belize with me! Oh, and show his replacement Sean around as well.

After around an hour showing everyone around my home we set off for some fun at the http://www.palapabarandgrill.com.

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My Dad and me. Let’s party!

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“Time for refreshment”

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“That’s better!”

And then some group shots.

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The day ended too soon for me but I did get to play with the remainder of my toys that Dad brought over with him. He also brought over the papers that Rose (she’s very nice you know) and John now need to submit

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to officially adopt me.

On Sunday morning Jaime, Leah, Geordie, Rose (the nice one), John and me crammed on to the golf cart and went to Estel’s Dine By the Sea to meet my Dad Frank and Sean for breakfast.

We spent a couple of hours there (I now know that John is a notoriously slow eater. Not at all like me) and then it was time to take Sean and my Dad Frank to the airstrip so that they could take the plane back to the mainland. It was sad, very sad saying goodbye to Dad but I just know that he will come back to Belize to visit me one day.

Today’s edition is dedicated to the one I love. My Dad Frank. Oh, and Rose (been telling you that I like her).

“Dedicated to the One I Love” was released in 1967 by The Mamas & The Papas and reached number two in the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart.

A sad footnote (well for John anyway) – Estel’s Dine By the Sea is closing for the whole of September. Bummer!

“It’s My Party” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Hi Ziggy here so none of that “out on the veranda with a mug of black coffee” twaddle!

It’s been some time since I last managed to wrest control of his (John’s, that is) iPad and let you all know how I am faring and a visit to Ambergris Caye at the weekend presented the opportunity. So, here goes.

Nine of us set off from Price Barracks, Ladyville on Saturday morning and caught the 09.00 hours (I’m from the military so I use the 24 hour clock) Belize Water Taxi service to San Pedro.

We docked around 10.30 hours and then marched – when you’re in the Army that’s what you do, you don’t just walk- to Pedro’s Hotel where we had booked rooms for the night and dumped our kit bags (I didn’t actually have a kit bag because my Dad carried my stuff in his). And then we were ready to start celebrating Tod’s twenty-second birthday. Let’s PARTY!

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Tod is on the right. He’s a nice guy. I like him.

We spent a bit of time swimming in one of the pools at the hotel and then headed to Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill for lunch (Dad had pre-packed mine) and after a few beers (a few! Who do I think I’m kidding? Not when you’re in the Army!) we were joined by Rose (I like her) and John.

After a bit of slobbering over me by Rose (I quite like it by the way) we all headed off to the Palapa Bar & Grill and on the way I wanted to stop off at the Feliz Bar & Grill.

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The place was crying out for people like me!

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“I’ve got all of the required qualifications!”

But try as I might we drove straight by. “It’s my party” Tod forcibly (too forcibly if you ask me) said. “And I’ll pass by if I want to”.

It wasn’t all bad though because I got to drive by my soon to be new home.

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“How about this neat Google Earth aerial shot?” “All that garden will soon be mine. All mine!”

The Palapa Bar is only a short drive north of my new house so it didn’t take us to long to get there and then the fun started. Time for a swim

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with my BATSUB colleagues

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“And I got to spend time in one of the tubes.”

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But swimming is thirsty work

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“So time to head back to the dock.”

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It was a great day but I’m still only a youngster so Dad took me back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep and they went out to celebrate Tod’s birthday.

On Sunday Dad went to Shark Ray Alley and Hol Chan Marine Reserve for a spot of snorkelling so John came and collected me and we went to Estel’s Dine By the Sea for a spot of breakfast.

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“I think this place could be a regular haunt for me. Got to see about being able to sit at the table though!”

We then went back to see Rose (have I mentioned that I like her?) and after a run around in the garden it was time for a nap.

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We went to meet Dad to get the 15.00 hours boat back to base but there was time for one last drink before we left!

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The headline (sorry but I’m under orders to stick with this -in my opinion- silly theme) for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1963 by Lesley Gore which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number nine in the UK Singles Chart.

“Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

As the number of World Cup games during the final week of the tournament decreased I started to get a few things done. I spent some early mornings (starting around 07.00 hours) weeding the front garden and I gave the dock a protective coat of weather shield.

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“Honest, I’m not sunbathing. There’s a paintbrush in my hand!” “No comments about lying down on the job please.”

Rose and I watched the two semi- final games at Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill and Rose won a prize for guessing that Germany would beat Brazil.

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A very proud and happy Rose with her Coca Cola glass. ” It won’t change our life!”

As to the game, Carlo’s post match message said it all.

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Yesterday in readiness for the final I thought I’d go for a change so I took my chair around to the veranda on the eastern (Caribbean Sea facing) side of the house for my ‘me time’ and enjoyed watching the kids of the sailing club.

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” Not a bad view.”

After a late breakfast (at home, regular readers will be surprised to learn) Rose and I got ready and set off for Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill to secure our seats for the final game of the World Cup between Argentina and Germany.

The game was scheduled for a 13.00 hours kick- off but we knew the bar would be busy so we got there around 12.00 hours and just managed to get seats at the bar.

It wasn’t the greatest final I’ve ever seen (and I’ve now watched fourteen of them) but the closeness of it kept the people in the packed bar on the edge of their seats (if they managed to get one, that is!).

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Throughout the tournament Carlo has told anyone who cared to listen (and those that didn’t) that Germany would be the eventual victors. There were times during the game though when he didn’t look that confident.

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His team though got the winner in the end and it was time for him to show his relief.

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Oh, and to start celebrating.

Now as to the Argentinian fans

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they quickly got over their disappointment.

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Don’t cry for me Argentina.”

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1997 by Madonna which reached number number three in the UK Singles Chart and number eight in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Dedicated Follower of Fashion” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Don’t know about you but I was a keen follower of fashion, one might even say a dedicated follower of fashion, in my teens, twenties and, if I’m honest, my early thirties.

I cannot recall exactly what brought about the change from slavishly following fashion to buying “classic” styled clothing. It may have been that I realised that a thirty something wearing clothes better suited to a teenager or twenty something was starting to look a bit silly. No matter how you try you can’t hold the clock back!

Or it might have been that I realised that I was just wasting money. You buy what’s in fashion (normally at exorbitant prices) and then two weeks later the item of clothing looked naff (for non UK readers please substitute “naff” with “unfashionable” or “unsophisticated”).

Whatever the reason was I stopped buying in quantity and turned to quality (this is not an opportunity for erstwhile colleagues in England to chip in) and if I followed fashion at all it was only to know what was ” the new black.”

So what’s all of this stuff about fashion got to do with San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize?

When Rose and I first came to Belize around sixteen years ago Barrier Reef Drive (front street) was the place to go if you wanted to find gift/T shirt shops and realtors ( estate agents for UK readers). Nothing much has changed in all those years. The name above one or two doors may be different but it is still the street to go to if you are looking to buy gifts or property.

Pescador Drive ( middle street) was where you found the eateries. And you still do:

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But are things about to change?

In recent months there has been a plethora of openings of eateries at the southern end of Angel Coral Street (back street). All of them serving local cuisine at very reasonable prices.

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And only a short distance down the street you can stop in at Briana’s Deli.

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Is Angel Coral Street about to become the “new black” or will it be Boca Del Rio where a new eatery appears to be opening with a blink of the eye?

The headline is based on the single released in 1966 by The Kinks which reached number four in the UK Singles Chart and number thirty-six in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

It’s probably the case for most of us that we don’t fully appreciate how fortunate we are until something horrible happens.

Now I know that I have had and continue to have a great life. I had a wonderful Mum and Dad. I have a loving (and loved) Sister. I’ve got fantastic nieces and nephews. A few friends that I know would be ‘there’ if I ever needed them. And if that were not enough I’ve got Rose as my wife and best friend.

But my good fortune goes beyond this. I worked in an industry that I loved. I had colleagues that I admired and trusted. Apart from a brief period of illness when I contracted tuberculosis (I ‘blame a visit to Hong Kong for that) I’ve enjoyed an illness free life.

Enough for anybody. But no, it’s gets better because when Rose and I first visited Ambergris Caye sixteen years ago we decided, no, we determined, that one day we would live here and call this place home and we set about taking the steps that would enable us to realise this ambition. And we did just over two years ago when we left the UK to realise our dream.

Now very often during my ‘me time’ in the early morning (you know, out on the veranda with my mug of black coffee and the iPad) I do occasionally pause to think about how lucky I am. I mean, there’s not a day goes by that I do not enjoy. Yes, even when painting the fence or weeding the garden.

When you can have breakfast with a view like this

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and watch the sun go down

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why wouldn’t you be happy!

But on Monday morning these passing thoughts took on a new nature. They gained real meaning when I read about the fire that broke out in Conch Shell Street the previous night and ravaged this area of Boca Del Rio.

My thoughts immediately turned to Lloyd and his family. Lloyd, frequent readers of this blog will know, has done quite a lot of work for us (landfill, garden clearance, building our dock, moving Gunner) and we’ve become quite friendly with him.

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Lloyd and I when moving Gunner to its new home.

I wanted to know if Lloyd and his family were OK but didn’t want to disturb him unnecessarily so sent him a text. Around ten minutes later he ‘phoned me. They were all OK but their apartment, and everything (and I mean everything) in it had been destroyed by the fire. The wooden two floor apartment building had been razed to the ground.

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Where Lloyd’s home stood until Sunday evening.

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The building immediately east of his old home.

And to the west of him was the same level of devastation.

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I didn’t catch up with Lloyd until yesterday – understandably he had been very busy – when we met at Estel’s. He’d lost everything apart from his boats (he needs these for his work) and his golf cart but he still had a smile on his face. “Nobody was hurt” he said, “That’s the main thing”.

By the time we saw each other he’d found new accommodation. Much, much smaller than his previous apartment but in the same street. He’d also got clothes for his family and a stove.

He’s got lots, lots more to get but hadn’t quite worked out what. “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone” he said. Lloyd’s a grafter though and he’s got loads of people that like him and will want to help him out.

Sitting there with Lloyd who’d lost everything was a sharp reminder of just how fortunate I am. I’d always thought I was. But now I know. I really know.

The community, as always, has rallied around to help the needy with a clothes and food bank being set up at the Lions Club premises in Barrier Reef Drive the day immediately following the fire. And yesterday a telethon/radiothon was held on Reef TV/Radio with donations being taken to the studio in Pescador Drive or given to the people collecting around the ‘Town.

When I saw Lloyd he had just passed the people with the collection buckets and he’d put in BZ$ 10.I think he’s so used to helping the needy that he forgot that on this occasion he is one of the people they were collecting for! A genuinely nice guy.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1988 by Cinderella which reached number twelve in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“This Is It” (IT) in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Saturday started the same as all days for me. I woke up!

I think I ‘hit’ the veranda – the western (lagoon facing one) – around 04.30 hours. I cannot recall the exact time. Obviously (as regular readers of this blog will know) I had my mug of black coffee and my iPad with me. It wouldn’t be the same in the early morning without my two ‘friends’ with me.

I (or do I mean we?) spent a couple of hours out there catching up on the news via The Times online. Sorry to find that there were no reports of purchases in the transfer market. Speculation yes. Action, no. Oh well, there’s still time before the season starts on Saturday 16 August.

After showering, shaving, brushing the teeth and then dressing I headed off for an early morning breakfast at Estel’s Dine By the Sea and then returned home for a day of World Cup football. It sounds like a hard life doesn’t it. But someone’s got to do it!

Before heading home I went to the airstrip to take a few photos for yesterday’s edition and whilst I was on the western side of the runway I saw a fenced in area containing some new scooters.

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Could these new scooters be for the scooter rental business that will open shortly in Barrier Reef Drive?

Upon getting home I settled down for the the first of the two games and watched Argentina go in to a fairly early lead against Belgium and , aided by the occasional flash of brilliance by Messi, held out to proceed to the semi-final stage. In the afternoon the game between the Netherlands and Costa Rica was a hard fought affair with the generally outplayed Central American side working their socks off to prevent the Dutch from scoring. And they did during regulation time and extra time but lost out in the penalty shoot out. They played valiantly though and did Central America proud.

With the football over there was time to grab a bite to eat, shower and get changed before Rose and I took the road south to attend the official opening of Island Time Beach Bar (formerly Fido’s South and then the Sandbar).

For those of you not familiar with the area you have to head south down Coconut Drive and Sea Grape Drive and you’ll know your getting close when you see Victoria House on your left.

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Carry on down the road a bit past Royal Caribbean Resort and you’ll see a sign ‘hanging out’ over the road.

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This is the turning you want.

Island Time (“IT”) is the latest venture of Ruth and Graham Verralls who formerly managed Caribbean Villas Hotel.

As soon as you walk in to the place you cannot fail to notice what must have been painstaking attention to detail. From the huge palapa over the bar and seating area, to the extremely well appointed toilets (rest rooms for non UK readers).

The bar itself is extremely spacious and well stocked.

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And it has two, wall-mounted, TVs.

Brent Butcher was there to entertain the clientele but was forced to take a short break when a heavy rainstorm hit the place shortly after 19.00 hours. It didn’t stop him for long though.

It’s a bit of a drive from town (and even further if, like us, you live or are staying north of the bridge) but it’s well worth the effort. If you’re looking for a bar with great views, spacious seating, friendly and helpful staff and a convivial atmosphere then this is it!

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Oh, and the kitchen is opening very soon.

Give “IT” a try. “IT” could be just what you’re looking for.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1976 by Melba Moore which reached number nine in the UK Singles Chart.