“It’s My Chapati (I’ll Cry If I Want To)” at El Fogon, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

James (“JimJam”) and Jamila Janmohamed couldn’t have chosen a better date for the Poppy Appeal Dinner at El Fogon on Saturday night even had they spoken to me first. Why, well yesterday was Rose’s birthday (38 again if you must know – she has Dorian Grey traits!) and a four course Indian meal was just perfect to make it an extra special day.

When we lived in London we had an Indian take-away (take-out or carry-out for non UK readers) virtually every week from our local Indian (actually Pakistani) restaurant called the Lahore Kebab House. It’s a no nonsense, no frills establishment that doesn’t sell alcohol (you bring that with you if you want it) but it draws customers from miles around.

So to say that Rose and I miss our Indian meals is a gross understatement and it’s why we so look forward to the annual Poppy Appeal Dinner here on Ambergris Caye. And with a menu like this I’m sure you can understand why.

I’d made reservations for the 20.00 hours sitting as soon as the event was announced – it’s an extremely popular dinner and tickets sell out fast,really fast – and we , Rose, Chrissy (Chrissy is a member of the British Army and serving as a member of BATSUB) and I got to El Fogon around 19.45 hours for a pre-dinner tipple.

We eventually were seated at our table at 20.20 hours so it wasn’t quite a pre-dinner tipple but it wasn’t a pre-dinner torrent. Let’s just say that we were lubricated. Very nicely lubricated.

James (“JimJam”) Monmohamed OBE making sure our table was ready.

The effects of the pre-dinner tipple are there to be seen! Chrissy on the left and Rose (birthday girl) on the right.

Time for the first course.

Potato Champs (otherwise known, I believe, as Potato Chops). A really tasty starter.

The table service was impeccable and the plates were taken away and replaced with the second course.

A very tasty daal lentil soup.

And then the course arrived that I had really been waiting for

Beef Rogan Josh and Aloo Gobi with Pilau Rice.

Now this course really got my taste buds dancing. They didn’t know whether to do the Cha-Cha-Cha or a Kathak! In fact I think they did both!
And then it was the turn of the Dessert course, Carrot Halwa. Now I’m not a Dessert person (already sweet enough I think) so the photographic honours (sic) go to Rose!

I understand from those that ate this course that it was exquisite so sadly the photo doesn’t do it justice.

At the end of the day I lent across to Rose, held her hand, and asked her if she had enjoyed her special day.
The tears well up and started to stream down her face. “Please don’t be upset”, I implored.

Wiping the tears from her cheeks she looked at me and pleaded ” It’s my chapati and I’ll cry if I want to” ( I know it’s terrible but …).

The headline for today’s edition is based (extremely tenuously I admit) on the single released in 1963 by Lesley Gore which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Worth It” The wait that is for Estel’s Dine By the Sea to re-open in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize

After the false start of yesterday I set off from home this morning feeling a little less than confident. Would they or wouldn’t they, Estel’s Dine By the Sea that is, be open for breakfast.

I arrived in ‘Town at exactly 06.45 hours – I know that they open at 06.00 hours but I didn’t want to appear too eager, too needy. I parked and then padlocked the ‘cart, grabbed my bag and strode purposefully (and optimistically ) towards Estel’s looking for a sign of ‘life’. Any sign.

And then I saw. The door was open AND the shutters had been removed from the bar, the NEW bar that is. There was Mark and Sam and I could hear noise coming from the kitchen. Only one thing to do. Take my place at MY table . It’s not really my table- table 11 that is- but I like to think of it that way. And you know what? I was the first person to eat there after the re-opening. A commerative T shirt occasion?

Anyway, enough of my waffle. How about some photos.

The view hasn’t changed. It’s still beautiful.

And the breakfast?

It hasn’t changed. It’s still great!

So what has changed?

Well for a start there’s the bar.

And another view.

With comfortable bar stools.

A slightly rearranged outside dining area. But my favourite table 11 is where it’s always been!

What about the inside?

Well the chalkboard is still there!


And – obviously – the internal section of the new bar.

Talking about the bar, it got its first customer at 07.14 hours precisely when I heard the immortal words ” A regular please”.

And the honour went to Lesley ” Shaggy” Lisbey.

Back to the changes. There’s a changed internal layout.

But there’s still a ‘special’ place for Charlie!

Charlie in his corner.

And what about Charles you’re wondering.

Busy making sure the entrance was nice and clean.

And me?

Happy, very happy.

Estel’s has been closed for what has seemed like forever (OK I’m exaggerating a bit) but as far as I’m concerned it was worth it. I love the new look Estel’s. Well done to Charles and the rest of the ‘E Team’

The headline for today’s momentous edition is based on the single released this year by Fifth Harmony which reached number twelve on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number three in the UK Singles Charts.

“Something Old, Something New” (Part Two) Estel’s Dine By the Sea, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

In the previous edition I tried to give you a taste of the work that the ‘E Team’ ( the Estel’s Dine By the Sea team) have been putting in to renovate and revamp this extremely popular beachfront dining spot on Ambergris Caye.

When I went there on Wednesday it was obvious that they still had a massive amount of work  to do but I’ve got to admit that I was surprised (perhaps “worried” is a more appropriate choice of word) that they were still working yesterday evening when I drove past around 18.30 hours. It was then that I started to panic- in fact I started to sweat (and it had nothing to do with humidity levels) –  that they might not be ready for the rescheduled 9 October re-opening. But there was nothing I could do to influence the outcome. It would be what it would be.

So … I got up this morning, made my mug of coffee – black and unsweetened – and took it and my iPad out on to the veranda, the western, lagoon facing one, and hoped . I just hoped. I hoped that my trip in to ‘ Town ( it’s only a ten minute journey so I really am hamming this up) was not going to end up being a wasted journey. One that might – OK, OK read “probably”- end up in tears. Torrents of tears. And me a blubbering mess. Forced to take my tear stained face (don’t know why I wrote that because I don’t wear make up so…) to another restaurant for breakfast.

I showered with a degree of trepidation( yes I know that most people use soap, shampoo and water but I’m not ‘most people’), shaved with dangerously shakily hands, dressed ( in a most unusually haphazard manner) and set off to ‘Town in a less than exhuberant mood.

I parked the ‘cart, grabbed my rucksack and strode (ambled is, perhaps, a more correct choice of word) towards my target. Estel’s Dine By the Sea that is. Time ? 06.40 hours. Told you I was keen. Didn’t I?

And then I saw. The door was open. But … were they open? I mean, really open. For food? My stride (yes, OK, amble) slowed somewhat. The door was open but it was obvious, so painfully obvious, that there would be no breakfast there for me today. I was gutted, absolutely gutted. So, I wiped the tears away and headed back to Highbury House to say hello to the good looking cook/waitress!

I’m confident though that tomorrow morning I will be happily seated at table number 11 (unless they’ve renumbered the tables as part of the remodelling).

Charles has advised that Estel’s will not be open today for Bar- B -Que.

I did get a bit of excitement from my trip though. I got to see the fire engine responding to a call to put out a fire at the wooden house just behind Hammock House (immediately north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge on the Caribbean Sea side).


“Something Old, Something New” at Estel’s Dine By the Sea, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

The last thirty days, although I’ve had lots to occupy myself with, have dragged, oh how they have dragged.

I’ve still started the day as I always start the day. I wake up! I then make a mug of instant black and unsweetened coffee and retire to the veranda. The western, lagoon facing one where I sup my coffee and read The Times online (on a Sunday I read The Sunday Times. Honestly, I do).

But the mornings just haven’t been the same. I’ve felt uneasy. Distracted. Not my usual self. “What to do for breakfast?” has been the burning question.

This unsettled state of mind all started on 7 September when the harsh reality hit me that Estel’s Dine By the Sea was closed for a month. Yes, a whole month. That day saw the start of my month long tropical depression.

Now its not as if Ambergris Caye doesn’t have an abundance (even during ‘low’ or ‘slow’ season) of alternative eateries at which to take breakfast but regular readers will probably have sensed that I’m somewhat of a creature of habit. “I know what I like and I like what I know”.

But I couldn’t ‘go’ a month without breakfast so I split my breakfast fix between my favourite alternatives:

Lily’s Treasure Chest – nice and centrally located with normally ample parking nearby. A good breakfast, pleasant and attentive staff and lovely views.

Amber Beach Bar & Grill – a bit of a journey for me but worth it. More than adequate parking facilities on site. A good breakfast, very friendly staff and, again, fantastic views.

Blue Water Grill – centrally located with plenty of parking options. A value for money breakfast with toast using bread made on the premises that, in itself for me, makes a visit worthwhile. Friendly, well trained and attentive staff who make sure that your every need is catered for. And, if that isn’t enough, the views are fantastic too.

Highbury House (otherwise known as home) – extremely conveniently located (well, for me anyway). A brilliant breakfast made by a fantastic cook and served by a gorgeous waitress (she’s the cook too actually). Oh and the views? They’re brilliant. I get to look at the cook/waitress. She’s stunning!

Highbury House.

And my breakfast time view.

You thought it was going to be a photo of the cook/waitress didn’t you!

As good as the ‘back-up’ eateries are (yes even Highbury House) I still missed Estel’s Dine By the Sea and at the beginning of last week, just for old time’s sake, (I know it had only been around twenty-three days but…) I found myself outside Estel’s. I knew from my day with Charles Worthington emptying his lobster traps that he planned to introduce some changes and my curiosity just got the better of me (and not for the first time I might add).

Charles wasn’t there but Sam and Cha Cha were and they were busy at work on the bar that Charles had told me about.

Sam Pop doesn’t just wait on tables and make jewellery. He can turn his hand to a bit of carpentry too.

Work on the bar in progress.

There appeared to be so much to do in the remaining time before the scheduled re-opening so yesterday when I was in ‘Town my inquisitiveness (some might call it nosiness) and curiosity got the better of me and I popped in to see what progress had been made. Oh, and also to find out if they would be open today as had been originally planned.

The full Estel’s team was there and they were all busily at work but it was obvious immediately that this wide ranging project would not be completed as planned but it looked good, really good.

The internal element of the bar has a little way to go before its complete but I can just see myself sitting there.

The walls have been cleared of paintings and photos and all holes are being filled before a repaint.

This upgrade, and believe me it’s an upgrade with a capital U, has really been an Estel’s team effort with everyone playing a part.

They realise though that Estel’s has a proud heritage so there’s something old, something new.

How about these gorgeous floor tiles that have been ‘hidden’ for years under sand.

Or the new sink for the new bar!


Mark , the ‘E Team’s’ plumber/electrician installing the sink.

There’s still a lot to do but I know, I just know that the Estel’s Experience is going to be better than ever and I for one cannot wait for it to re-open this Friday 9 October, bright and early at 06.00 hours. I’ll be there. Will you?

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1971 by The Fantastics which reached number 9 on the UK Singles Charts.