“Don’t You (Forget About Me ) “ when I’m away from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Now when I left you it was just after a resounding victory (OK so it was a one nil win with a bit of a flukey goal) by Arsenal over Watford FC.

The next day was the day for what has now become an annual pub crawl with my friend John (yes , aka Harry the Hornet,the Watford supporter ).

After a (very) hearty breakfast (if you read the first in this series you know what this means. If you didn’t read it , you must) I set off to cross the Thames .

I took the underground. You didn’t think I walked across . Did you ?

To our favourite meeting point. The Royal Oak at the Borough

where real ale is sold

and customers are happy.

After a few (quite a few actually) beers and a bite to eat we headed north of the Thames. We were on a pub crawl after all.

John trying to look cool and stylish. But failing miserably.

I think we went to three pubs – we normally ‘hit’ six or seven but I was still struggling from the broken ankle I suffered just before Christmas – but that didn’t limit the amount of alcohol we consumed. It had to be done.

The thoughts of a sage.

The next day, after another hearty breakfast (it’s the only way to start a day – or at least that’s what they tell me at Estel’s Dine By the Sea ) Rose and I set off for some retail therapy. But I had a surprise for her. I booked tickets for the matinee of a show that had just opened in London.

When I could see that Rose was starting to look like the therapy had worked I suggested that we head for Haymarket where there were a couple of good pubs. I chose the Tom Cribb.

Over our drinks I broke the surprise when I showed her the tickets .

We were going to see the stage show of Only Fools And Horses , recognised by many as one of Britain’s greatest ever TV comedy shows.

Tickets to see the show was not the only surprise that Rose got. Oh, no. During the Intermission she found that she was sitting next to Joanna Lumley .

It was the second time we’d met Joanna Lumley (although it didn’t appear that she remembered!). The first time was around twenty-two years ago when I was working for the company that published OK! Magazine and the owner at the time used to host celebrity parties to generate a photo library for the magazine.

It’s a great show and one that I highly recommend if you find yourself in London during its run. It’s , as Del Boy would say, “Cushty“.

The next day we had to travel across London and once again found ourselves celebrity (sic) spotting. Eagle-eyed Rose spotted that Paul Burrell , former butler to Princess Diana was in our carriage.

The not-so-loyal butler is fifth from the left.

Oh, I digressed. We were traveling across London to meet up with Jacqueline and Roy who had travelled down from Yorkshire to spend some time with us. We first met Jacqueline and Roy at Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar in San Pedro and immediately struck a friendship. It was Jacqueline it was her first visit to Belize but for Roy it was a return visit. He’d served here with the British Army in the mid seventies .

We had arranged to meet at The Moon Under Water

a JD Wetherspoon pub.

For those of you that have not frequented a ‘Wetherspoon’s , they are generally quite large and well appointed establishments that offer a good menu and a range of good beers and very reasonable prices when compared to pubs in the adjacent area (and no, I’m not on the payroll ).

With all of our planned meet-ups completed Rose and I spent the Easter weekend meandering around Central London in weather conditions that had been arranged just for us !

I do like a good bookshop.

And an olde English sweet (candy for non UK readers) shop. Catch the name of the shop next door ! Snog

Rose so wanted to get Ziggy one.

Rose’s favourite stage play.

My how things have changed since we immigrated.

A devastated Rose after finding that her favourite bead shop in London is no more. Now it’s a shop that sells paper

Very, very expensive Japanese paper.

With the weather being so good we even managed to take in some ‘street food’.

All too soon it was time for Rose and I to have our last breakfast together for awhile.

Doesn’t she hide the sadness well ! But before we got up from the table she looked at me intently and said “Don’t you forget about me ” (she didn’t really but I was stuck for a song title for the ‘headline’).

With breakfast over I contacted Uber for vehicles to take Rose to her sister’s and one to take me to my friend John’s house.

First task when I arrived there was to unwrap the stuff I had delivered there ( I use it as a ‘mailbox’ ) and pack it in my suitcases.

With that task completed John and I headed to Watford for the game against Southampton. It wasn’t the greatest game but it was my last chance to watch live Premiership football ( the S word for readers from the US ). It ended a one all draw with a goal scored in the first minute and the equaliser in the ninetieth.

The next morning Janet, John and I were up early so he could take me to Heathrow airport so I could catch the United Airlines 09.30hours flight to Houston. I caught it and after an uneventful journey was in my hotel room by 19.30 hours.

I stayed in Houston for two nights so that I could treat myself to some retail therapy!

I also managed to have dinner with Caesar a friend from Ambergris Caye but it was time to head home.

The first I did after picking up my golf cart was to go a get Ziggy. I had some stuff for him.

Meet Ziggy’s newest ‘friends’. Sophia the Snow Leopard (this is actually Ziggy’s third Snow Leopard ) and Basil the Badger.

And

some chew sticks to keep his teeth in good order.

The headline (contrived) for this edition is based on the song released in 1985 by Simple Minds which reached number 7 on the UK Singles chart and number one on the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Streets of London” when away from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

At the end of last month Rose and I celebrated our 7th anniversary of moving permanently to Ambergris Caye, Belize. Seven years. They’ve flown by so fast. 

Nothing to do with celebrating the anniversary but around a month before it we took a little time out from island life and made a visit to our previous stamping ground . London. England. United Kingdom no less.

Long time readers of this blog will probably have (quite rightly ) formed the opinion that I am somewhat a creature of habit. If I like something then I generally tend to stick with it (just ask Rose !). So, for our trip to London, I booked air tickets with United Airlines out of Houston and the Radisson Blu Grafton in Tottenham Court Road for our accommodation.

We caught the 09.00 hours Tropic Air flight to the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport

and had checked in for our first flight to Houston , gone through security and were sitting at Jet’s Bar

and by

I had a

in front of me .

The short flight ( 2hours and 20 minutes ) to Houston was uneventful but we got a rude awakening when we approached the Immigration zone. It was packed. Horrendously packed (readers please do not moan about delays when visiting Belize ).

We eventually (around 90 minutes later ) cleared Immigration, got our plane and arrived at Heathrow around 11.30 hours the next day. We cleared Immigration and then Customs very quick;y and were in an Uber car (I love Uber ) no more than twenty-five minutes after touching down and in our hotel forty-five minutes after that.

Quickly checking in at Reception

quickly unpacking our ‘cases and a freshen-up and we were ready to ‘hit’ the shops ! We had some presents to buy .

With shopping over it was time for Rose and I to reacquaint ourselves with

and then for a good night’s sleep.

Breakfast the next morning .

Now what shall I have ?

Not quite anEstel’s Dine By the Sea ‘ but …

With breakfast over it was time for us to reacquaint ourselves with the UK’s transport system.

An unusually empty railway carriage.

Around thirty minutes later we were collected by my nephew Bradley so that we could spend the day with his partner Shorona and lovely (Shorona is lovely too) children Lottie and Cody. Cody is with me in the photo below.

And then it was present trying on time for Lottie (it was her third birthday the week before we arrived).

“C’mon Lottie . Cheer up “.

“Stop hiding . We can see you”.

it was like a fashion parade. And we managed to get the right size !

We had an amazingly enjoyable day and didn’t get back to our hotel until around 22.30 hours. We had to get some sleep in. We had an appointment the next day With my friend John and his wife Janet for a traditional British Sunday lunch !

But first to savor the lovely Spring day with a walk-in the streets of London.

My friend had booked a table (who knew you need to do that with pubs too now) and not long after sitting down I was devouring my lunch (sorry, only remembered to take a photo after I’d started eating it ).

All friends before the big match . Watford versus Arsenal the next day. Janet and John both support the Hornets and Rose and I, the Gunners and I was going to the game with John.

After breakfast the next morning

-something a little different –

there was time for a little bit of shopping with Rose before heading off to meet my friends and ex workmates John and Jon for a pre match appetiser . Oh, and a few beers !

And after a bite we moved on, yes you’ve guessed it, to another pub!

This one with more Watford fans in it. I was outnumbered.

And then onto to game but not before there was a photo call.

Me surrounded by a load of plonkers.

Enough tomfoolery it was time for the serious stuff.

One nil to the Arsenal.Not unsurprisingly I wasn’t the most popular person in that section of the ground .Time to make a hasty exit and head back to my hotel !

More exciting adventures in the next edition which I’ll try to publish real soon. Can’t wait, can you.

The headline for this edition is based on the song (which I have to admit is one that I don’t particularly like ) released in 1972 by Ralph McTell which reached number 2 on the UK Singles Chart.

‘The World is My Oyster’ away from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I know, I know. It’s been a while since I last produced an edition. A long while.

I’ve actually sat down to write something a few times. In fact each time we’ve been on holiday this year – London, Nashville and Cartagena- or family or friends have come to stay with us I’ve knocked a few paragraphs out but then lost the drive to finish what I started.

Well, Rose and I have just got back from a trip to New Orleans and I think the virtually exclusive diet of omega 3 ( more later) has had a substantial effect upon my energy levels. And appears – how long this may last I have no idea – to have instilled a degree of discipline into me again.

Anyway, back to our little trip away from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

We narrowed it down that we would take our break in the United States. But where? Well, the place must have music and good food. How about New Orleans we thought, it had been twenty-five years since our last visit. Actually now I think about it , I thought of it and suggested it to Rose. She gave the ‘thumbs up’.

With the plan approved I set about making the arrangements. Flights booked with United Airlines- we are members of MileagePlus, it’s loyalty programme (program for non-UK readers) – and then I booked 7 nights at Homewood Suites by Hilton. A hotel conveniently located just 3 blocks away from Bourbon Street.

With our arrangements made I then booked Ziggy’s holiday. An 8 night stay (this made for a less busy outbound day for us) at his favourite (favorite for non- UK readers) hotel and spa on the island. Pampered Paws . Where else !

For the inquisitive amongst you (this presumes that someone has actually bothered to read this) we caught the 11.00 hours Tropic Air flight to the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport where we connected with the United Airlines 13.14 hours flight to Houston where – after a bite to eat and something to drink – we caught the United Airlines 18.39 hours flight to the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

Upon landing we collected our suitcases fairly quickly, caught a taxi and were in our hotel room at 20.30 hours. And just forty-five minutes later we were in a bar in Bourbon Street!

The next day after eating breakfast -nothing like the view I usually enjoy at – Estel’s Dine By the Sea – we took the bus (US$ 3 each for unlimited travel) to the nearest Walmart. It had to be done so my view was to get it out of the way early and then start enjoying ourselves !

It wasn’t too painful and we completed the mission within a couple of hours and amongst our purchases we got enough Dentastix to last Ziggy half a year.

A joyous Ziggy guarding his ‘stuff’ on our return.

With the horrible shopping out of the way it was time to ‘hit’ the French Quarter for a shucking good time!

“They need a good shucking”.

Meet Lorenzo and

just look

and see how he shucks!

And for only US$ 13.50 for a dozen. At that price the world is my oyster !

Today’s headline is based on the second track on side one of the album Welcome to the Pleasuredome released in 1984 by Frankie Goes to Hollywood which reached number 33 on the US Billboard 200 and number 1 on the UK Albums Chart .

For another shucking good read keep your InBox open.

“Lay Me Down” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

On Sunday I enjoyed a bit of a lie -probably caused by the exertions (for exertions read Belikins) of going on a Poker Run– and got out of bed unusually late at 06.15 hours.

I hurriedly (well you can’t hurry up a kettle really apart from putting less water in) boiled the water for my mug of coffee fairly well rushed -OK, I walked quickly- out on to the veranda. Yep, the western, lagoon facing one.

Why the hurry (or maybe you’re not), you’re thinking. Simple. The Spurs versus Liverpool game was on TV with a 06.30 hours kick-off. What right minded Arsenal fan wouldn’t want to watch Spurs take a good hiding. And they did. What a perfect start to my day. Or so I thought.

Time for another mug of coffee and my breakfast (no time to go to Estel’s Dine By the Sea for a last breakfast before it closes for a month) before the Leicester City versus Arsenal game. Exquisite scheduling by the Premier League (or was it the TV companies?).

I settled down for the expected (don’t know about you but I expected it) win but although we dominated the play and we huffed and we puffed we could do no better than get a draw. But it wasn’t all bad because the game hadn’t been going more than around fifteen minutes (it started at 10.00 hours) when I heard the sound of rain. Yes, rain. And it was coming down heavily.

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There wasn’t a cloud to be seen. The sky was just a dark greyness. This was not going to be a brief downpour. Time to revise my plans for the day. No gardening. No giving Ziggy his weekly bath. Oh no. This was going to be a morning just for me! Only one thing for it. Time to lay me down and overdose on football. And I did.

I finished watching the Arsenal game (don’t really want to say much more about that) and then watched Villarreal lose to Barcelona and Real Sociedad beat Real Madrid (that was a shock by the way). What a heavenly Sunday morning.

Late afternoon Rose, Ziggy and I headed to Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill. Rose wasn’t too keen on going out in the rain. I was ambivalent but Ziggy was insistent.

We hadn’t been there long when it became obvious that he had been studying me during the morning. It took only minutes after arrived there before he took up the position.

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A master at work!

When we got home we showed Rose that we could work (sic) as a double act.

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I’m the one wearing the shorts.

Now I know that the vast majority don’t give two hoots about how I spent my Sunday. Actually you probably don’t give two hoots about how I spend my Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, … No what you want to know is what I did for breakfast today now that Estel’s is closed. In your shoes I would too.

Well, I took a drive south to Caribbean Villas Hotel in Seagrape Drive and got there shortly after 08.00 hours and a “front row” table

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with a view.

A quick study of the Menu “told” me that there was only one choice to make. The “full English”.

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THE “full English”.

At BZ$ 24 I thought it well worth the money. Don’t let my size mislead you. I can tuck it away. But this breakfast just had the better of me. I had to leave half a slice of toast!

Before I left though I took the opportunity of taking a peek at the new building that is under construction that will provide forty-eight additional rooms for this Caribbean beachfront hotel.

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The windows will start to be installed this week and everything and I’m reliably informed that everything is on track for the new rooms to be available early in November.

On the way home I had to stop off at Adrian’s in Boca Del Rio. Yes, another puncture.

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When I started this edition I felt that I had so much to tell you but as I get to the end of it I question what. So if you haven’t got this far I think you made a good decision. If you’ve stayed to the end though, well, thank you.

The headline for today’s edition is based in the single released in 2013 by Sam Smith (if you haven’t heard this guy he has a great voice) and it reached number forty-six in the UK Singles Chart.

“Road to Nowhere” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I’ve always enjoyed my early morning “me” time on the veranda. For those of you who are reading this blog for the first time (where have you been?) this is normally any time between 04.00 to 06.00 hours (the latter being a “lie in” morning) when I head out to the western (lagoon) facing veranda on the first floor of our house with a mug of coffee (instant, black and no sugar) and my iPad. I’m now starting to appreciate this time even more.

Why? I hear you thinking (don’t worry I can’t really hear you). Quite simple actually, a house is being built on the lot adjacent to us and the sounds of construction start reverberating around our house between 06.30 to 07.00 hours. And they are working weekends too.

I’m guilty of exaggerating the noise actually. It’s not really that bad. There’s been the sound of shovels digging to create the depth for a water tank. The moving, cutting and bending of rebar. The cement mixer at work. Oh, and the sound of some of the guys singing (and one of them is not too bad).

We’ve got talking to one or two of the guys working on the project and we understand that its going to be a single level, three bedroom concrete house built on stilts. What amazed us though is when they told us they are aiming to finish it by Christmas. Six months from start to finish. I’ll be watching this one closely!

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After only two weeks ! They might hit Christmas after all (and look at all that rebar Kathi Moore!).

The house being built next to us is one of many of the developments currently underway “north of the bridge”. It’s a burgeoning area and it came as no great surprise to us when a short while ago it was announced by the San Pedro Town Council that a seven mile cement road would be laid from the northern side of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge. The work – which has started – is being undertaken in two phases with phase one starting around three miles north of the ‘Bridge near Venezia Del Caribe. Eventually phase two will result in the road going a further four miles north.

The road north has been spoken about for as long as I can remember. It’s been dismissed as “pie in the sky” by many. Some have (and still are) fiercely opposed to it. Me? Well I like the rustic charm of the dirt road but the island has grown and it continually grows and much of this growth with now take place north of the ‘Bridge. Why? Because that’s where the available land for development is. And a good road to support this growth is a necessity in my opinion. It will also (on a really personal note) be good for my golf cart AND my back!

Yesterday after taking care of a bit of weeding (they keep growing) Rose and I decided to head north to take a look at the start of the road and what follows are some photos of what we saw along the way.

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Turn left (north) out of our gate.

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Striking bougainvillea. But look at the rocks in the road.

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Approaching the turn-off for the Palapa Bar & Grill.

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Construction of holiday let cabanas near the Palapa Bar & Grill “junction”.

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Ak’ Bol.

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Aji Tapa Bar & Restaurant.

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Captain Morgan’s Retreat.

All of them are businesses that should benefit from the new road.

Continuing our drive north which, at times, felt like (wait for it) we were on the road to nowhere (terrible isn’t it) we came to the start of the new, concrete road.

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It may not look much now. But …

We continued north (intrepid aren’t we!)

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Rendevouz Restaurant & Winery.

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On to the beach road (sic). Look at the build up of seagrass.

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The Residences at Barrier Reef. Another development that will in the future benefit from the new road.

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Mata Grande Grocery.

As an interesting side note (or not), I understand that the ‘Town Council is giving away fifty by fifty feet lots to three hundred and fifty people that live on the island. The cost to the lucky recipients? A surveying cost of BZ$ 500. Many of these lots will be developed soon and they too will benefit from the new road even though it initially will stop short of them.

We continued northwards

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Rojo Lounge.

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Matachica Resort & Spa.

We carried on until we hit the

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point when we decided that we deserved (needed) some sustenance so we turned around and headed south until we came to

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the Jambel Jerk Pit based at the old Xaman Ek Resort.

The place was deserted apart from Klinsmann (his father is a mad keen Germany football supporter and Klinsmann was born when Germany won the World Cup in 1990!) the bar man /chef.

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The resort hasn’t been fully operational for a couple of years and is currently up for sale. So if you are looking for something to do and have a spare US$ 1.6 million …

As the sun started to set we knew it was time to bring our adventure to an end and hit the bumpy road south!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1985 by the Talking Heads and reached number six in the UK Singles Chart.

“Hot in Herre” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

With all of the excitement (different things excite different people!) that Rose and I have had recently – getting our new burglar gates/doors AND getting Ziggy for good – I almost forgot to tell you about a little shopping expedition that Rose and I made a few weeks ago.

It all started when we went to the self-contained apartment that we have on the ground floor to give it a little spring clean (OK so it was early August but you know what I mean) in readiness for the visit of some guests.

We don’t go in to the apartment very often and as we opened the door the heat hit us. A rush of warm, no, hot air (and, it was not because I started to speak). As we entered Rose turned to me and -stating the bloody obvious – said “It’s hot in herre” (I know its spelt incorrectly but bear with me ).

We’d always known that an increase in humidity levels allied to the fact that the apartment isn’t used that much (and no this isn’t a invitation for a flurry of visits!) that it made sense to get a dehumidifier. Our time in the apartment that day convinced us that it was now time to translate talk in to action. A visit to the hardware stores on Ambergris Caye was called for.

Working north to south we called first at Hermano’s Hardware in Boca Del Rio.

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There was lots of stuff on display and much fitting the description of “I could really use one of those” but not a dehumidifier to be seen. So Rose ushered me out of the store and we headed to Pescador Drive calling first at Castillo’s.

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No dehumidifiers in there either so we crossed the road and popped in to S.P. Home Center.

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Same story. Lots of stuff that took my fancy but not what we’d gone out to buy. So on to the next stop, Harmouch’s.

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Success. They had one in stock!

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But it was a brand we’d never heard of and was a whopping BZ$ 850 before discount! So on to Sam’s Hardware a short distance down Pescador Drive. I wasn’t confident so Rose went in to the store alone. I didn’t think it was worth locking up the golf cart.

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I was right (for a change), not a dehumidifier in sight. So we went straight to the S.P Hardware store in Sea Grape Drive.

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And … Not one but two models on display! And better still we knew the name of the manufacturer.

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I stepped back gracefully (I know my place!) and Rose (the “Terminator”) took over. “How much?”, she enquired. “HOW MUCH!” The guy repeated the prices and undeterred Rose retorted with “But how much with a discount?” The guy dropped the price by ten percent. Not bad I thought. But Rose had sensed blood and she went for the jugular. He wilted. I knew he would. I always do so why shouldn’t he! He agreed to give a further five percent discount.

Deal done, a fifty pint dehumidifier for BZ$ 675. Ouch and ouch. Why ouch? The same unit can be had at any Home Depot for US$ 229 (or BZ$ 458).

We’ve been using it for the last few weeks and it works a treat.

It’s not all trawling around the shops though. Oh no. Since we got Ziggy for good I now get to take him for his swim. He just loves frolicking (I’ve been waiting an age to use this word) in the sea.

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“Slowly Ziggy.”

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With the amount of effort he put in retrieving the ball he should have laid down and got to sleep when we returned home but no, he went straight to the garden to hunt iguana.

Please turn away if you’re squeamish.

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And he got one!

The headline for today’s headline (told you that it would all become clear) is based on the single released in 2002 by Nelly (with additional vocals by Dani Stevenson) which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number four in the UK Singles Chart.

“Safe & Sound” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I may not have written an edition for a little while but thought you might like to know that I’ve still been going through basically the same routine.

Up before the sun rises out on the veranda, the western one on the first floor that faces the lagoon, with my mug of black (instant, with no sugar) coffee and the iPad (an Air for those of you that might be interested).

I’ve continued to enjoy the relative quietness -there are the sounds of the leaves swooshing (if there’s a breeze of course), the lapping of the water, the birds chattering, the fish jumping out of and then re entering the lagoon, the snarling and grunting of racoons when they fall out with each other. Oh, and the occasional barking of dogs when they are spooked by something. The early morning sounds that let you know that another day is about to begin but it’s quiet, very quiet.

Ideal conditions you’d think for knocking out an edition. And they used to be PZ. PZ? Pre Ziggy I mean.

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For those of you not aware, this is Ziggy.

The solitude of the early morning for me is now a distant memory. When I get up in the morning there he is. Waiting at the bedroom door, tail wagging happy in anticipation of the first strokes and pats of the day. It used to be that my first job (sic) of the day was to get the kettle on and spoon the coffee in to the mug. Not now. That comes a poor second best!

We do eventually make it to the veranda but any chance of pulling together something that anyone might want to read has been nullified by Ziggy’s head constantly finding itself in my lap. So you can blame (or thank) him for the absence of postings on my part.

To get this one ‘out there’ I’ve had to (any excuse) decamp to Estel’s Dine By the Sea

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for breakfast

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and for some time alone with the iPad!

So with the “solitude” I sought and an ideal setting what do I write about? What has happened since I last posted something?

Regular readers may well remember that nearly two months ago I mentioned that we had ordered burglar bar gates/doors. At the time of placing the order we were informed that they would take around three to four weeks to be made and fitted for all of our external doors (two double doors and two single doors)

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Double door entrance to the first floor.

We’ve been popping in to the workshop in Boca Del Rio probably twice a week to monitor progress and on each occasion we’ve been told “They’re nearly ready.” But … nothing.

And then last week – I think it was Wednesday- we heard Ziggy barking to let us know that someone was at our front gate. It was Franco and he had our gates/doors with him. Within minutes they were in the front garden

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and just as quickly they were off the trailer neatly positioned for installation.

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Franco decided to start with the ground floor apartment first so moved the relevant gates/doors but then realised that there was a design fault which he had to take two of the gates/doors back to the workshop to correct.

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So close yet so far!

We thought that was the last of the gates/doors we’d see for a few days but no. The next day Franco returned and they started to be installed.

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But first an adjustment to the frame.

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Second gate/door about to be ‘slotted’ in.

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“It works!”

With the first installation completed they moved on to the door of the apartment

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and then the pump room

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and then the first floor!

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A bemused -and imprisoned- looking Ziggy.

They haven’t greatly obscured the view though

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but have increased our sense of security so that we feel safe and sound. And the breeze can flow freely through the house.

We thought it had gone “belly up” on Wednesday

With the gates/doors installed Ziggy and I settled down to watch work on the house that’s being built on the lot immediately north of us.

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“We’re going to have neighbours soon Ziggy.”

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The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 2011 by Taylor Swift and reached number thirty in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“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.

“Come Fly with Me” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Over recent weeks I’ve devoted some of my early morning ‘me time’ out on the veranda following up on the legal dispute involving Tropic Air and a guy by the name of Brett Feinstein who is one of the two directors of Benny’s Enterprises Limited.

For those not aware, Tropic Air is the larger of the two Belizean airlines, the other being Maya Island Air, and with its fleet of 15 aircraft operates around 1,000 flights a week to 16 domestic airports and 6 international destinations. And this service offer keeps growing to the benefit of those of us living in Belize and those that come to visit.

Integral to Tropic Air’s operation is the ability to service and maintain its aircraft and to do so in the most timely and cost efficient way. Because of this need the company took the not insignificant decision of committing to a major investment (reputed to be as much as BZ$ 6 million) to build a new, and much larger, high tech maintenance facility in San Pedro. It’s spiritual and operational home.

The dispute concerns a small strip of land 100 by 100 feet which is adjacent to the San Pedro airstrip and forms part of the area on which Tropic Air, believing it had a thirty year lease, commenced the build in December last year.

All was proceeding to plan until last month when Construction Depot Limited, a company owned by Brett and Sean Feinstein, filed a court action against Tropic Air. They contend that Title to the land in question was granted to their company by the Lands Department in April this year (yes, this year) and as such the lease held by Tropic Air is null and void.

The action was held in court and Construction Depot Limited was granted a ‘cease and desist order’. Following this all work on the facility on the land under dispute was immediately halted. And that’s how it remains whilst these two leading Belizean companies try to reach a compromise.

If one were of a skeptical nature (oh, I am) one might wonder why a company believing that it owns land on which another company has started a major investment on their land would wait so long to make legal challenge. I mean why would you allow them to ‘sink’ somewhere close to 20% of the total investment cost in to the project before crying ‘foul’? Because they’d be keener to settle? And settle quickly at any price?

I have no personal involvement with either of these two prominent Belizean companies other than as a customer (construction materials for our house were purchased from Benny’s and Rose and I are regular flyers with Tropic Air) but I am concerned by the likelihood of a compromise not being reached.

Tourism (directly and indirectly) accounts for around 33% of Belize’s GDP and the number of people employed within the country to support this runs at a similar level. And both sets of figures (and the importance of tourism) have increased over the years as Belize’s appeal to tourists and overseas’ investors has grown. Tropic Air has played no small part in making this possible.

Now imagine the effects on tourism if Tropic Air were to be unable to service its fleet and keep it in the air. Tourists having booked their flights to Philip Goldstein International Airport would find themselves unable to quickly get to their chosen destination in Belize. They could get there of course by boat or bus ((but there would need to be an immediate major investment (for additional boats and busses)) but both would add time to their journeys. Not the thing you want if you are coming for a short stay (as many Americans do).

Of course this dispute could be settled very quickly. Tropic Air could pay a hugely inflated price and buy the land. A likely consequence though could be that ticket prices increase so that Tropic Air could recoup the cost that it didn’t envisage or budget for. So who pays ultimately? The traveller. Or do they all? A sharp increase in prices might have a knock on effect and passenger numbers decrease. Hotel bookings drop. Restaurant and tour operators are not as busy. And then all prices increase in an attempt to recover the deficit. A vicious circle.

I find it ironic that the opening of Benny’s Mission Statement reads:

” Benny’s is committed to continuously improving and developing the economy and lifestyle of Belize.”

As an outsider looking in I hope that they remind themselves of this when they sit down to try to reach agreement with Tropic Air. A healthy, vibrant and profitable tourism industry and ultimately the economy is essential for the well being of Belize and everyone (and I mean everyone) who either lives or visits here.

I like it that Tropic Air says “Come fly with me” and I want it to continue to be that way. And at prices that I find affordable.

Below are some shots of the land and development in question.

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The headline for today’s edition is based on the title track of the album released by Frank Sinatra in 1958 which reached number 1 in the US Billboard Hot 200 chart.

“For the Love of Money” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I’m old enough to know better. I’ve been around way long enough to have learnt (learned for the non UK readers) some lessons. But no, it appears that , like Oliver Twist, I want to keep going back for more.

What the hell is he on about this time, you’re probably thinking. He’s drinking far too much caffeine. He really should cut down on the early morning mugs of coffee. Far better if he substituted it with just plain, good old water. And if you were thinking that then you might just have a point. But caffeine or, to be more precise, too much of it, is not the reason for this self-appraisal.

The day had started so well. I was out on the veranda – the western (lagoon facing one) by 04.40 hours with my mug of black coffee and the iPad. It was still dark but that’s the way I like it because you can let your other senses go in to overdrive.

I enjoyed my time reading The Times online, reading and responding to some emails and catching up with Facebook until just after 06.30 hours when I showered, shaved, brushed my teeth and got dressed. I then set off for ‘Town. I had the ‘cart booked in for a service at FC’s Aluminum. And that’s when it all began.

When I booked the service I thought I had a good plan. Drop the ‘cart off at opening time 08.00 hours), walk along the beach to Estel’s Dine By the Sea for a leisurely breakfast. Go to Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill to watch the France versus Germany World Cup Quarter Final and then collect the ‘cart, go home, have lunch and be ready for the Brazil and Colombia game.

I dropped the ‘cart off just after 08.00 hours and took the walk along the beach, gaining access via the alley that runs from Coconut Drive past Changes in Latitude.

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And enjoyed a nice stroll along a near empty beachfront.

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Streamers flapping in the breeze.

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Too early for the sun loungers.

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But not for two Germans who had reserved their beds for after the game!

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Diamante Beachfront Suites starting to ‘take shape.’

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Nearly there.

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“Made it.”

I reached Estel’s at 08.20 hours and whilst waiting for my food took advantage of the time to organise a currency exchange.

I may have mentioned it before, or I may have not (memory nowhere near as good as it once was) , but it’s not all drinking mugs of black coffee and reading The Times online for me during the ‘me time’ on the veranda in the early morning.

I do occasionally use this time more productively. I’ve used it to research the types of plants we might want to grow in our garden. I looked up designs for burglar/gates. What type of door locks offer the best protection/security. A whole host of things that it never hurts to do a bit of research on.

It’s also become my custom though to look at the sterling/US Dollar exchange rate. Why? Well, our income predominantly comes from the UK and we convert this to US Dollars as we need it for our running (living) costs here in Belize.

Obviously the better the exchange rate we get the better off we are. So I monitor currency movement fairly religiously.

Before we moved here I pulled together a spreadsheet detailing assumed costs and for this spreadsheet I used an average of the sterling/US Dollar exchange rate for the previous six months. Since moving here I have replaced ‘assumed costs’ with ‘actual costs’ and enter the exchange rate I obtain for each currency conversion. I’m then able to compare my projected expenditure with our actual expenditure.

If you are a foreigner living in Belize, currency conversion (unless you deposit all of your funds in a bank in Belize or the USA) is of key importance (unless you are fabulously wealthy of course) and the timing of a conversion can have material effects. So it’s not for the love of money. Oh no. It’s for the love of a better life.

With the instructions for the conversion made and breakfast finished I took the short stroll to the bar and got there at 09.59 hours. Perfect! Ordering a Sprite (much to the shock and horror of Ernie) I settled down to watch the game, surrounded by around twenty other like minded enthusiasts.

Germany went in to a fairly early lead and then did what virtually every German team I have ever watched does. Close the game out.

With the game over it was time to collect the golf cart. Or so I thought. A ‘phone call though informed me that this was not the case. “All the guys are at lunch”, I was told. “I’ll call you later.”

So I settled down and waited for the call. And I waited. And I waited. And I waited. But it didn’t perturb me at all because by this time the Brazil v Colombia game had started. The place was jam packed. And I had a prime seat at the bar!

I eventually got the call at 15.25 hours to let me know that the ‘cart was ready for collection. But it could wait. I had the rest of the game to watch!

I learned a very important lesson yesterday. Don’t book the cart in for a service when World Cup games are on TV!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1973 by The O’Jays which reached number nine in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Memories Are Made of This” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

With a day off from the World Cup last Friday I focused on the weeding. I started the day though -regular readers know what’s coming now – with a mug of black coffee and my iPad on the western veranda – and got out there around 04.30 hours.

First up was a bit of time with The Times online. I’d watched (if not live, then when its been replayed) nearly every game of the group stages so didn’t need to spend much time looking at the supplement that The Times is publishing just for the World Cup. Instead I spent my time reading the match reports and articles about The Wimbledon Championships.

I’ve caught some of the matches on TV but there’s only so much sport you can watch in a day and although I’ve taken to lounging on the sofa, with the remote control at the ready, like a duck to water even I have found it challenging.

As I read the ‘paper (sic) my thoughts took me back forty-three years ago to probably one of the best jobs I ever had.

At that time I was working for the Daily Sketch which, at the time was Britain’s oldest tabloid national newspaper. It had struggled for quite a few years to compete with the Daily Mirror and then had to contend with The Sun which had been purchased a few years earlier by a very young Rupert Murdoch.

The owners , Harmsworth Publications (subsequently to become Associated Newspapers) took the decision that they would close the ‘Sketch and merge it with their other national daily the newspaper, the Daily Mail.

I was offered the opportunity of transferring to the surviving newspaper but when I found out that I would get £365 severance (redundancy) pay – I wasn’t quite twenty-one at the time – this seemed like a king’s ransom to me. So I decided to take the money and head off to mainland Europe to ‘bum around’ until the money ran out.

The company asked me to stay on for a month after the closure of the ‘Sketch to help effect a smooth change-over (why they should have thought that a twenty year old could help with this I will never know!) and I agreed (extra money for my European ‘jolly’ I thought) so didn’t end my employment until 11 June.

I was at home the following week busily making preparations for my trip when the ‘phone rang. It was the head office of the union (in those days you couldn’t work for a newspaper unless you were a member of the ‘appropriate’ union). I was a member of NATSOPA. “Did I want a short term job?” “Doing what, where?” I replied. ” At the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship, filing copy for the Evening Standard’s tennis correspondent.” It took me all of twenty seconds to blurt out “Yes please. When do I start”.

For the life of me I cannot remember what the pay was but it wasn’t bad and they paid my travelling expenses and gave me a daily subsistence allowance. The real perk though was that I got free entry to Wimbledon. No queuing. A place to watch at every court (and I think that there were nineteen of them). And yes, this included the Centre Court.

From memory I had to phone in copy written by a sports journalist by the name of Barry Newcombe (in ‘his’ day he was one of the top tennis correspondents in the UK) four times a day (editorial deadlines were so much earlier before the introduction of computerisation) and then the time was my own. Free to wander from court to court. And getting paid for it!

I watched enthralled ,and perhaps a little love struck, as the young Aboriginal, Evonne Goolagong, majestically swept all of her opponents aside as she gracefully moved around the court displaying grace and power.

It’s wonderful how you can travel – and back in time – with just an injection of caffeine and the stillness of the morning. Memories are made of this!

What’s this got to do with Belize, and Ambergris Caye in particular? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I just thought I’d share my thoughts with you. Oh, by the way, I never did get to ‘bum around’ in Europe. I was offered a job on The Sun. And I took it. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I can’t sit in the chair dreaming all day though and have been tackling the weeds in the garden. It’s hot work and I’ve realised (it took me a while I’m sorry to say) that its best to tackle it early in the morning. So I’ve been starting at around 06.00/07.00 hours and ‘going at it’ for three hour stints.

It took me three such sessions to clear the weeds (roots included wherever possible) and I’m now sitting around waiting for them to grow again!

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A (nearly – couldn’t get them all out) weed free south-east corner of the front garden.

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Not a lot to show for so much back breaking (slight exaggeration) effort.

The area in front of the front fence looks nice and tidy though.

Talking of memories I’m sure that those of you that either live on or visit Ambergris Caye will have at some time frequented the little food stand in Barrier Reef Drive (front street). You know, the one near the corner of Pelican Street.

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Well you won’t be going there any more. It’s gone. Razed to the ground.

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Work has already started on the office for the scooter rental company that will be opening soon.

And as one business closes another one opens. Many of you will remember Fido’s South, or the Sandbar as it subsequently became. Well, following a major refurbishment, it’s now the ‘home’ of Island Time Beach Bar and is being operated by Ruth and Graham Verralls who previously managed Caribbean Villas Hotel. Worth a visit when you are ‘down’ south.

Anyway, got to bring this edition to a close because I’m going fishing!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1956 by Dean Martin which reached number one in both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart.

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

It’s taken me nearly week to get this edition out. I tried to start it when I was sitting at Estel’s Dine By the Sea on Monday morning waiting for breakfast. But I just sat there looking at the Caribbean Sea wondering what in the hell I was going to write about. I had gone through the same fruitless process earlier when I was out on the veranda -the western one on the first floor – from around 05.00 hours taking my caffeine fix.

I could have taken the easy way out and produced another edition on Lobster Fest .I’ve got loads of photos that I took on Saturday night that I could have used but I decided not to. Lobster Fest has, after all, been ‘done to death’ by anyone who has a blog. And I include myself.

Had I shown a tad of foresight I would have taken the camera out with me on Sunday so that I could have taken a few snaps, ‘wrapped’ a few words either side of them and, voila, another edition ‘out of the way’. But I didn’t. The closest I came to foursight (yes I know I’ve chosen the incorrect spelling but …) was when I put a pair of glasses on!

Struggling to find the creative juices (who do I think I am kidding!) I started to wonder (question even) why I had started the blog. Oh yeah, to keep a record of the build of our house and a very easy (or so I thought at the time) way of letting family and friends know what we were up to. And then it took on a new ‘face’. I started to get readers that I didn’t know. From all around the world. And the best part was that they (and you might be amongst them) started to interact.

I’ve gotten questions. I’ve had suggestions. I’ve been sent photos to include in the blog (I haven’t forgotten you Julian). I’ve had long time residents of Ambergris Caye ask me for advice because we’ve done something that they were about to do. We’ve received presents. And, most importantly of all, we’ve made the acquaintance of some really, really nice people.

Last week we met Kathy and Ron who hail from Wilmington, North Carolina. Kathy had brought a whole bag of stuff for Ziggy. Oh, and some sweets (candy for non UK readers) for me (and perhaps a few for Rose?). Regrettably they didn’t get to meet Ziggy to personally give the gifts.

But I’m pleased to report (sounds very newspaper like doesn’t it) that this was put right on Sunday morning.

After the travails of the Lobster Fest Block Party (I only mention Lobster Fest because it has relevance to this anecdote) I got up later than usual. Not until 07.30 hours. Shock, horror. How could I get up at such an ungodly hour!

I spent around an hour or so on the veranda (c’mon I needed the coffee) showered, dressed and went to pick up Frank (Ziggy’s Dad) and -more importantly – Ziggy from Pedro’s Hotel. They’d come over for the Block Party.

We headed down to Estel’s for a late breakfast, more like brunch really, and hadn’t been there long when I heard “John”. Looking up I saw that it was Kathy and Ron. They were taking a morning stroll along the beach.

After making introductions Frank took Ziggy out to the beach to meet them. Now if I was a serious blogger, or at least one that demonstrated a modicum of foresight (see, I can spell it correctly) I would have had my camera with me! Trust me though, Ziggy was very pleased to meet his newest benefactors.

With breakfast over we headed home so that Rose could spend some time with Ziggy.

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“Best smile Ziggy. Oh, and you too Frank.”

In the afternoon we took Ziggy and Frank to catch the 15.00 hours Belize Water Taxi service back to Belize City and then headed to Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill to watch the USA versus Portugal World Cup Group G game.

We were sitting there soaking up the pre-match atmosphere amongst the crowd of expectant Americans there, when a female voice asked ” Are you John?” Not knowing whether it was a debt collector I hesitated, turned around, saw that it wasn’t and replied hesitantly “Yes”. ” Hi I’m Jan” the lady replied.

I knew that Jan (a reader of my blog) was going to at the bar (she’d emailed me to that effect earlier) but I hadn’t clue what she looked like. She was there for the match with her husband Clive and it was obvious from the conversation that ensued that she understood football (and no, I do not mean soccer).

Jan and Clive are relocating to Ambergris Caye later this year and were over to ‘knock off’ some things from their ‘to do’ list. Not least to find some accommodation to rent whilst their new condo is being finished. Good to meet you Jan and Clive and hope that you had a successful visit.

We settled down to watch the game and during the course of it struck up a conversation with a young couple, Claire and Ian, from Seattle. Over here for their first ever holiday together they are ardent ‘Sounders fans and really knew their stuff about football. And pleasingly for me, that’s what he called it. It was difficult not to like him!

Football hasn’t totally dominated my week – although it has had a more than fair share of my time. I’ve managed to fit some weeding in (having had the garden cleared we’re determined to ‘hit’ the weeds as they appear). And I’ve been monitoring progress on the making of the burglar bar doors/gates for our home.

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For the entrance to the first floor (where we live).

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For the ground floor Store Room/Garage (on the left) and the apartment.

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Pump Room.

Franco has made a good start on the gates/doors and they should be finished and fitted in around two weeks.

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Pump Room and apartment gates/doors.

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Gates/doors for the first floor.

While I have been busy taking care of stuff Rose has found the time to get some practice in with the fishing rod.

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Looks the part, doesn’t she! (The photos are in reverse order but you’ll get the idea).

And she was.

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A snapper.

It wasn’t all work and no play for me though because I found time (who am I kidding) to take the boat out for its maiden voyage with me at the helm.

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Ahoy there Cap’n.

We got as far as Brahma Blue, the uncompleted and unused resort on a caye west of Ambergris Caye before I turned back

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Brahma Blue in the distance.

We didn’t go that far but far enough for Rose to get the rod out for a bit of trolling and she struck a little barracuda.

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That evening when imbibing with a well deserved Belikin (c’mon all seaman drink) we had the pleasure of meeting another couple of really nice people. Jessica and Tony, a young couple from England (actually from Forest Gate where I was born) who have taken a ‘year out’ to travel around Central and South America. It was their first day on the island and they loved it and had already extended the duration of their planned stay. We know the feeling Jessica and Tony.

I’ve just seen the theme (submitted by a female by he name of Denise Bowman) for this year’s National Celebrations, ” Industrious hands, intelligent minds, together for Belize”. I think she had me in mind. I mean I’ve got an industrious mind and intelligent hands. Oh, maybe not!

The headline for today’s somewhat higgledy-piggledy edition is based on the single released in 1964 by Barbra Streisland which reached number five in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart .

“Go Now” to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I’m out on the veranda. Yes the western (lagoon) facing one. It’s just past 01.00 hours. I’ve got no mug of black coffee with me – come on , it would keep me awake for hours- but I do have the iPad with me.

Regular readers are now starting to think thworld has turned upside down. I mean he (that’s me) always gets up early. And that’s the time of the day that he writes about. Why’s he writing his blog at 1 pm (remember you’re thinking this, not me. If it had been me I’d have said 01.00 hours).

Well I’m writing it now because I’ve got just back from attending the 2014 San Pedro Lobsterfest Block Party and, because I had a particularly good time and a fair amount to drink, I still feel wide awake. So I thought why not knock out an edition now.

Now if I were erudite – and I’m not- and had the energy – which I don’t – I’d give a couple of paragraphs to how Lobstersfest started in 2008 (or was it 2007 ?) . But I won’t. I mean its late and I need to go to bed. If not how can I be expected to be out here ( on the western veranda) at 04.00 hours (it’s me now so it’s the 24 hour clock).

Rose and I were here for the first Lobsterfest (2007 or 2008) and since then each one has got bigger and better than the one before . And this year’s Block Party to bring the event to a culmination was the best so far.

Now I could sit out here ( that’s on my western veranda) padding out a few paragraphs but in all honesty it’s been a long day and I think I really should go to bed . So I’ll just leave with a few photographs that I took.

Stands being set up around 13.00 hours.

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Rose and I got to Central Park (that’s where it’s held) around 19.00 hours and it was in full swing.

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There was, obviously, lobster around

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Told you!

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And music too.

And loads of people enjoying themselves.

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Plus Super G.

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I wish that I could sit out here a bit longer and wax lyrical about the wonders of Lobsterfest but in all honesty I’m not going to. No for me its time to go now. To bed. Goodnight.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1965 by The Moody Blues which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart and number ten in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“The Tracks of My Tears” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

The day had started so well yesterday. I was up nice and early – around 04.15 hours I think – and out on the veranda within a few minutes with the mug of black coffee and my iPad.

I spent well over an hour devouring every little snippet about the World Cup, and particularly England’s upcoming game against Uruguay, via The Times online. This was an important day. No, a vital one. I needed to be prepared. To have all of the facts at my disposal. There could be no room for error. It mustn’t all end in tears!

A leisurely shower (we’ve had some rain recently so I’m not worried about the tank below the house being empty), followed by an even more leisurely shave (wouldn’t want to cut myself, would I), a scrub for the molars and the selection of my wardrobe (which pair or shorts and polo shirt – decisions, decisions!) and I was ready to hit the road for breakfast at Estel’s Dine By the Sea. I mean you wouldn’t want to send a man to the gallows on an empty stomach, would you!

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A very empty Barrier Reef Drive (front street) at 06.40 hours.

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My breakfast. Looks good, doesn’t it.

And the view was pretty good too.

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After a while of just taking in the views – whichever direction you point your eyes in is good – I achieved a state of serenity. I was in the right frame of mind for THE game.

Around 11.00 hours Rose and I headed north to Grand Caribe. We were going to meet Kathy and Ron Chavis.

Kathy is a reader of this blog (Ron may be too but he didn’t mention it – if you aren’t Ron, you should be!) and some little while ago she Facebooked me (is there such a thing?) to let me know that when she visited Ambergris Caye she was bringing a present for Ziggy.

We’d never met Kathy and Ron but within minutes we were chatting away like we’d known each other for ages. They are from Wilmington, North Carolina and in three years will be relocating to Ambergris Caye. Great choice Kathy and Ron. And the three years will just fly by. Trust me.

When we opened the bag that Kathy presented us with we were overwhelmed. There were gifts for all of us.

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A collar and lead

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For Ziggy. Or are they for me?

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And a matching bandana and

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hat.

And the coup de gras

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Or should it be ‘poop de grass”? A poop bag, bag!

And for Rose?

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They should keep her quite for a while! Only kidding Rose.

And what about me, you’re thinking. Well …

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It’s alright Rose, you will get some. And Ziggy too if there are any left when he rejoins us.

Thank you again Kathy and Ron (if you’re reading this) for your amazing generosity.

We gave Kathy and Ron a lift in to ‘Town so that they could connect with the trip on the Reef Runner Glass Bottom boat they had booked and then Rose and I headed to Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill. The BIG match awaited.

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The English crowd starts to build.

The players come out on to the pitch.

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The crowd had swelled

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England went one nil down to a Luis Suárez goal and then it was half time. Time for lunch.

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Cottage pie courtesy of “Chef” Carlo. And very good it was too.

The second half kicked off and England drew level with a goal by Rooney. Our hopes were revived. Could we get a winning goal or would we hold out for a draw? But no. Suárez struck again. Our hopes were dashed. The whistle blew.

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Our hopes were dashed. I feared that it might end in tears and it did. Head bowed I looked down at the bar and there they were, the tracks of my tears. Only one thing for it.

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We still have the slimmest of chances of making it to the next stage but it depends on other results. Oh well, only four years to the next one!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1965 by The Miracles which reached number sixteen in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number nine in the UK Singles Chart.

“Have a Nice Day” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Up at 03.50 hours yesterday morning. I do sleep very well – it would probably take a cannon to wake me- but when I wake I just have to get up. Try as I might I find it exceedingly difficult, if not nigh impossible, to go back to sleep again. Some people can, I just cannot. But looking at it on the positive side I get so many more conscious hours than a lot of people.

It didn’t take but a few minutes to make my mug of black coffee, unplug the iPad and seat myself comfortably in my chair ((you might be interested to learn that one chair is looking decidedly more used (and worn) than the other three)) on the lagoon facing veranda.

I whiled away a few hours catching up on the news via my subscription to The Times online, a bit of time on Facebook and reading and responding to emails by which time it had got light and time for me to get cracking.

Get cracking on what, you’re probably wondering. Work out my viewing arrangements for the World Cup games that would follow later in the day? Oh no, I had things to take care of for Gunner.

Last Friday I took all of the relevant paperwork for the change of ownership of the boat to the Belize Port Authority office in the DFC area. Now anyone that knows Ambergris Caye will know that from Tres Cocos this is a fairly long journey (by island standards) over some fairly rough roads. It’s a bit of a schlep.

Knowing this I made sure that I had all of the necessary documentation. Or so I thought! Well I did have all of the paperwork that was required but … two of the documents ((the declaration by us (Rose and I) that we had bought the boat and wanted to change its name and the ‘bill of sale’ from the previous owner)) had not been signed and stamped by a Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Belize . This was necessary because the previous owner is not in Belize currently (normally the seller and the buyer would visit the office jointly and sign the necessary paperwork in the presence of the ‘Authority officials.

Could a Justice of the Peace notarise the documents, I asked (we know one or two JPs on the island and I knew this would make the requirement a simple one to fulfil. “No” came back at me, “It has to be a Commissioner”.

The look on my face must have been one of bewilderment. Maybe even panic. Seeing this, Aaron (the guy that was dealing with me) proffered two names -both of which I was familiar with – of Commissioners living on the island. Panic over. One of the individuals is the father of a longstanding acquaintance who we are friendly with (he is an Arsenal fan!)

A phone call later arrangements had been made for the necessary stamping and signing of the documents and I collected them on Tuesday evening.

So what on earth has this got to do with me needing to get cracking yesterday morning? Simple. We were going to take the paperwork and Gunner to the Port of Belize Authority office for the change of ownership, the name change AND the inspection for the Seaworthiness Certificate and I had to get Gunner ready.

Life jackets (six) – check. Fire extinguisher – check. Life ring – check. First Aid kit – check. Whistle ((for distress signals not in case I’m required to referee a football (soccer for non UK readers) match)) – check. Compass (well a GPS actually) – check. Anchor (with rope secured to it) – check. Everything in order and done by 07.15 hours. Time to get showered, shaved, brush the old molars (well given the number of implants I’ve got some are not that old) and get dressed ready for the off!

I’d phoned Lloyd (remember him? He’s that guy that cleaned up our garden, built the dock)

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The better side of Lloyd (only kidding). He’s the guy wearing the grey ( gray for non UK readers) T shirt

to ask him to drive the boat for us. The lagoon side has very shallow stretches and this would give us the chance of plotting the route on the GPS. It would also mean that we wouldn’t run aground!

Lloyd arrived with Anthony , his eldest son, around 09.00 hours and within minutes we were on the boat. A turn of the key and the engine purred in to life, we cast off and we were on our way.

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Our house behind us in the distance.

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And open water before us.

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Anthony sitting comfortably.

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Rose too.

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And a friendly pelican for a while until he realised we weren’t going fishing!

As I mentioned earlier, the water can get pretty shallow and the next photo gives a reasonably clear indication of this.

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There’s a stretch with low, over-hanging mangroves

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for which we had to lower the Bimini (I’d remembered the screwdriver) but once through it the Bimini was back up and Lloyd ‘opened up’ the engine

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and in no time at all the ‘testing station’ was ahead of us

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We moored up and I went ashore to take care of the paperwork. I won’t give you the boring details (probably bored you enough already – don’t answer that!) but will just let you know that it was a successful visit. We’re now ‘legal’ to take the boat out.

For the return journey Lloyd took the Caribbean side of the island so we headed off to the southernmost point of the island and then headed north to home.

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Past TMM Yacht Charters , close to where BC’s once stood.

And then we were approach the cut at Boca Del Rio

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Under the bridge

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and on the way home.

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We moored up at 12.50 hours and just in time too because the heavens opened up

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AND in time to see Spain, the current World Champions go out of the completion, losing two goals to nil to a very good Chilean team.

My tip for you today? If you want to have a nice day when you next come to Ambergris Caye go out on a boat trip!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 2001 by the Stereophonics which reached number five in the UK Singles Chart.

“The Girl from Ipanema” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Do you ever feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven? Found your nirvana? No? I can understand that. I mean, I’m sure not too many people feel like they have found that magical state. If I’m honest , and there’s no point being otherwise, I never thought that I would. But that’s how I feel now.

I’ve had some good times in my life. I had great parents. A happy childhood. Some fantastic teen years. I loved my job and looked forward every day to going to work. In fact many were the days when Rose had to ‘phone me to get me to go home! And, of course, I met, fell in love with, and eventually married Rose. The love of my life AND my best friend ( some of you will now be thinking “How delightful”, others ? Looking for the sick bag!).

So with all this why do I suddenly feel like I reached heaven? Well for the first time in my life I’m able to watch every single game in the World Cup. Now the fact that I haven’t watched every game – I’ve missed watching three and a half (only saw one half of the France v Honduras game) up to yesterday- has been my choice. My World Cup viewing has not been dictated by being at work as it has been for previous competitions.

Yesterday I decided that I would ‘go’ for some atmosphere for the Brazil v Mexico game and watch the game at Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill. There are four TVs there and plenty of space to find a seat in front of one of them. First though I wanted to get the caps to finish off the posts on our dock so I took a drive down to Harmouch’s Hardware store in Boca Del Rio.

He had just what I wanted and they were priced at BZ$ 38 each. After some haggling I got him to drop the price to BZ$ 36 and after some more determined haggling he dropped the price again. This time to BZ$ 32. We had a deal.

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A snip (???) at BZ$ 32.

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“Naked” posts.

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First caps fitted.

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“Much better”.

With the bit of DIY done I headed off to the ‘Runway bar for the 13.00 hours kick off and when I got the found a good number of people around the bar.

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Recognise any faces you know?

Prices had been lowered for the big game.

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I mentioned in a previous edition that team support on the island favours Brazil closely followed by Argentina and the yellow shirts of Brazil were in evidence on both sides of the bar.

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The girl from ipanema?

The Mexican fans – and there were quite a few (I presume their forefathers came from Mexico)- were vocal in their support as the game progressed and their team grew in confidence. It ended up as a nil, nil draw but Mexico came out of it with a great deal of credit.

Twenty-five more days of World Cup football and I’m going to be in front of a TV for every one of them. Heaven, I’m in heaven.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1964 by Astrud Gilberto which reached number five in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number twenty-nine in the UK Singles Chart.

“Turning Japanese” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I’ve had a busy -well by my standards- few days since the last edition. Not so busy though that I haven’t started the day out on the veranda – the first floor, western one for those of you that are interested- with the ‘must have’ mug of black coffee and my iPad.

In between what I needed to do I’ve done my utmost to catch as many of the World Cup games as possible.

Last Thursday afternoon I got a telephone call from Louis Gillett, the engineer we’d chosen to make our ‘sick’ engine ‘healthy’. When I heard his voice I thought he was going to give me bad news. But no. He’d finished his work, the boat was ready to collect. Feeling pretty elated I told him I’d be down the next day to pay him and collect the boat.

Knowing that I needed someone conversant with the waterways from Louis’ boatyard in Boca Del Rio to our house I then ‘phoned the multi-talented, ever dependable Lloyd. He told me he had some work to do up near Journey’s End but would come and collect me around noon.

I was up way too early (even by my standards) at 03.45 hours) the next morning (Friday for those of you that may have lost track) and although I enjoyed my ‘me time’ there was a restlessness about me. Noon just couldn’t come quickly enough!

Lloyd arrived at the appointed time and Nelson, Anthony (they were going home for lunch) and I jumped on his golf cart and made the five minute journey to Lloyd’s house where we left his ‘cart and walked to Louis’ workshop.

I handed Louis his cheque and he handed me the keys to the boat and Lloyd and I stepped on board. Lloyd fired up the engine -and it sounded smooth – and I untied the mooring ropes and with Lloyd at the wheel we were off. First stop the petrol (gas for non UK readers) station on the western side of the island near the Sunset Boardwalk to put some much needed fuel in the tank.

Topped up Lloyd headed the boat in a northerly direction and we headed towards the boat’s new mooring spot at the end of our garden. We had an opportunity once we were away from the petrol station to give it some throttle and the engine performed very well. A throaty yet smooth sound. Power without too much noise. A bit like me I suppose!

The route back after that was taken very, very slowly because in parts the water is exceptionally shallow. It was obvious though that Lloyd knows these waterways like the back of his hand.

Along the way he pointed out schools of snapper and bonefish swimming in twos and threes. We also saw a couple of rays. Lloyd also showed me where a couple of caves are where lobster apparently ‘hang out’.

Meandering our way slowly back there was a quietness only broken by the soft purring of the engine and my constant questions to Lloyd. It was almost ethereal. I just know that Rose and I are going to really enjoy exploring this side of the island.

I’d imagined – don’t know why really- that the journey would be a relatively quick one. It wasn’t. I hadn’t legislated for the fact that the recent addition of a bridge near the Reef Village Resort

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forces you to take a westerly course up to Grand Caribe where you are able to turn and head south to our home. Along the way though we had to take the Bimini down (very slowly because with no screwdriver on board (there is now) we had to use a key to loosen the screws) to avoid getting tangled with low hanging mangroves.

I’d left the camera at home so Rose could take some photo’s of Gunner making its way to its new home.

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I’ve spotted Rose.

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Carefully past the guys digging for landfill.

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Time for another wave and

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we’re heading towards our dock.

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Safely moored.

It has been a great experience but the bummer was that it took so long that I’d missed the Spain v Holland game! But it was worth it.

On Saturday Rose and I had a few things to do but our real plans revolved around England’s entry in to the World Cup. The game versus Italy at 16.00 hours.

We’d already decided that we were going to watch the game at Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar& Grill ( the only other serious alternative for a game involving England with plenty of Brits being present being Cholo’s) where we were going to be joined by seven British Army guys.

To give it an ‘English’ feel I asked Carlo if he could make English style fish and chips (CHIPS not fries) and he did a spectacular job of it.

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Chunky chips with the potato skin left on them. Seasoned with salt and malt vinegar. It looked so good that I’d already started on it when I remembered to take a photo!

Unfortunately England’s performance didn’t match the fish and chips and we went down two to one. We now must win on Thursday against Uruguay to give ourselves a chance of staying in the competition.

Depressed by our defeat I perked up when the next game started and Japan raced in to a lead against the Ivory Coast with a goal scored by the aptly named Honda! These guys were giving it their all and I was rooting for them. So much so that I felt like I was turning Japanese (yes, I know its bad but I needed to get a headline!). It didn’t last though and for the second time in the day ‘my’ team lost.

On Sunday (that’s yesterday if you’ve not been paying attention) I was up around 05.15 hours (yes a little later than normal which was probably caused by an intake of too much Belikin the day before) and spent around twenty minutes on the veranda. Time enough for a coffee before taking a shower in advance of the loss of power at 06.00 hours (this was scheduled to run through until 14.00 hours).

Rose and I then spent a couple of hours cleaning the boat. Our aim to remove the rust spots.

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Before.

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After.

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Before.

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After.

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A sparklingly clean Gunner!

With the boat in a shipshape condition Rose and I freshened up and went for a late breakfast (Estel’s of course) and then headed to an exceptionally packed Caribbean Villas Hotel where we met the British Army guys.

Attempts were made to hook up the TV to the generator but to no avail. Fortunately though the Belize Electricity Limited (“BEL”) guys got the power back in good enough time for the Day Four entry of Argentina in the World Cup. With so many Argentina fans on the island I fear what may have happened to the “BEL” guys had they failed.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1980 by The Vapors which reached number three in the UK Singles Chart and number thirty-four in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

With my selections for the World Cup taken care (dreaming of getting my hands on the prize money already!) of I was free yesterday morning to revert to my usual routine. You know, out on the veranda early (yesterday it was around 04.30 hours) with the mug of black coffee and my iPad.

Intuitively feeling that it won’t be long before we get the call from Louis to let us know that he has fixed the engine of the boat we have bought I started to give thought to what we need to buy for the boat and drew up a short list for the shopping trip I was going to make later.

With the list ‘out of the way’ I turned my attention to The Times online where I found at article about a Swedish ecommerce start-up that has introduced a number of employee perks. One of which made me think of Ambergris Caye.

Apparently Tictail, that’s the name of the company, offers it staff “mindfulness breaks” (“set times in the day during which employees use no tech, have good food, take exercise”) and flat hierarchies (“using first names for senior positions”). It’s now introduced shoelessness or, as the company email describes it, “shoes at the door, everyone barefoot to keep the space pleasant”. Ambergris Caye , although behind the times in many things, saw the merit of this approach years ago with its ” No shoes, no shirts, no problems” slogan.

Before ‘hitting the road’ to go and make my purchases I let Lloyd, his son Anthony and Nelson in and watched for a while as they set about finishing off the work on the dock. They started off by making a small table that we can use to clean the fish that we catch. There’s confidence for you!

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Lloyd cutting the holes for where the legs will go.

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Legs (supports) in.

I left them to go shopping and returned around ninety minutes later with:

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A fire extinguisher and petrol (gas for non UK readers). The former a requirement for the issuance of a seaworthiness certificate and the latter so that we don’t run out! So still a bit of safety first I suppose. Total cost with discount (always, always, always ask for a discount when shopping on Ambergris Caye. As my Mum used to say, ” If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”) BZ$ 113.

And a whistle -our chosen means of being able to make a distress signal – for compliance for a seaworthiness certificate.

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A bargain at BZ$ 5.75!

Oh and I also bought a copy of the latest issue of The San Pedro Sun to make sure that our Public Notice advert was in it. It was.

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Exceedingly good value at BZ$ 1.

By the time I got home the guys had finished work on the dock.

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Ramp from garden to the sea wall in.

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‘Cutting board’ in.

The headline for this edition is based on the single released in 2003 by Kenny Chesney which reached number two in the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and number twenty-eight in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“The Game of Love” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Yesterday morning out on the veranda -yes with the mug of black coffee and my iPad- my thoughts were not as they have been in recent weeks (it seems like months though) on what is the next job to do/get done. Oh no. They were focused entirely on what is the most important thing in the world for me right now.

I honestly do want to get the garden clean up finished so that Rose and I (more her than me) can start deciding what we want to plant where (soil condition permitting of course). I want the dock to be finished. Of course I do. And obviously I want the sick engine on our boat brought back to full health. But for the next five weeks the most important thing in my world is the 2014 World Cup.

Now I know that football (and for non UK readers you call it soccer) is not for everyone but I am from the Bill Shankly ‘school’ where football is concerned and totally ‘buy in to’ his view, and I quote:

“Some people believe that football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

So yesterday morning top of my agenda – yes before The Times online and Facebook – was to make my selections for the bracket that Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill is running for THE World Cup.

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As I worked my way through the group stage and on to the next rounds I really wanted to select England to win it but in the end the head overpowered the heart. I know it’s the game of love but there’s a big prize at stake for the person that gets the most selections right and I’ve got a sick engine to pay for!

With my winning (I hope) selections made it was time to open the front gate so that Lloyd and Nelson could get to work on finishing the garden and the dock. And it was obvious that Lloyd has the World Cup on his mind because he brought his eldest son Anthony along with him.

They started off – and Nelson got the ‘honour’ for this – of knocking up some cement to finishing off filling the supporting posts for the dock.

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“Go Anthony.”

And.then it was time for the pour.

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I didn’t just sit around watching them work though. Oh no. I got the bucket and squeegee out and started washing the windows (and we’ve got a lot of windows).

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Whilst I was on the top floor though I took some time out to go up to the roof to enjoy the view and to catch the breeze.

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And to watch the guys working of course!

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Leaving the cement to dry Lloyd, Nelson and Anthony then started work on the cement strips we want for the front gate to provide additional support and freedom of movement for the front gate.

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Lloyd ‘creating’ the path for the wheel on the front gate.

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Nelson nearly at the end if his long walk from the back garden with the cement.

And ready for the pour.

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“Finished!”

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1965 by Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number two in the UK Singles Chart.

“Morning Has Broken” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Up around 04.15 hours yesterday. A bit earlier than usual I think because in my sleep my subconscious thought was reminding me that this was going to be a BIG day. The day that our boat was going to be towed from Captain Shark’s Boatyard in the DFC area to Louis Gillett’s workshop in Boca Del Rio. Louis is the engineer who we hope will make our sick engine well.

It didn’t too long to make my mug of black coffee (it never does, that’s why it’s called instant!), pick up the iPad and be out on the veranda. In the dark.

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I took the camera out there as well just so you get an appreciation of just how dark it is.

There’s very little that can be seen at that time of the morning but there are plenty of sounds. The breeze rustling through the trees. And now that we have a palapa either side of us I can hear it rustling through them too. There’s the sound of fish (I’m told its snappers) launching themselves from the lagoon and then the splashing sound as they re-enter the water. I’m also convinced that I hear the sound of crocodiles as they swish their tails to propel themselves though the water.

There’s also the clicking sound that geckos make as they awaken for the day ahead. And of course the sound of barking dogs as their peaceful slumber is broken by the sounds of people making a long trip north -either on foot or on a bike – for the start of their working day. When that happens I know that morning has broken.

As the sky starts to brighten the birds start to chirp to let their friends know where they are before they break in to song. And sometimes one them might join me on the veranda.

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I passed the time reading The Times online but have to admit that I didn’t pay too much attention to what I was reading. I know that there’s a lot of important stuff going on around the world but yesterday my thoughts were selfishly focused on collecting the boat.

Around 07.00 hours my phone rang. It was Lloyd. He’d found someone to tow the boat for me (his boat is being used on an island off of Ambergris Caye) and he would come and collect me at 08.00 hours.

I knew that I had time to spare but clear and logical thought went out of the window and I had showered, shaved, brushed my teeth and dressed within twenty minutes. Not a record for me (I once accomplished this in ten minutes when I overslept for a plane I was catching) but quick by my Ambergris Caye standards.

Lloyd arrived around ten minutes early and we drove the short distance to Boca Del Rio to meet his friend John and within minutes we were off, heading down the waterways on the western (lagoon) side of the island.

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Within minutes we had the San Pedro Sunset Boardwalk and Water Taxi Terminal to our left

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and then it was behind us.

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John (the other one, not me) at the tiller.

Within a few more minutes we were heading down the canal to Captain Shark’s Boatyard

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We moored up and I hopped ashore (I can still hop even at my age!) and found Omar so that we could get our boat in to the water.

Gunner (that’s what we have named it) was already on a trailer and in no time at all Omar had hooked it up to a tractor and it was heading towards the slipway.

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Lloyd observing proceedings intently.

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And ‘she’s’ afloat!

Lloyd and John then secured the ropes

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and we were off!

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I travelled back in Gunner but Lloyd started the journey with John but after a short time joined me to Captain the boat.

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“Your fingers are facing the wrong way Lloyd”. Or are they?

We took the same route back and passed the vegetable and fruit sellers who were by now in ‘full swing’.

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We then pulled in to the canal where Louis has his workshop

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and Lloyd punted Gunner to its temporary (really temporary I hope!) mooring.

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Safely moored.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1972 by Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam) which reached number six in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number nine in the UK Singles Chart. Now I’m under instructions to include this next bit of information. Cat Stevens went to Hugh Myddleton school. The same school Rose went to. She’s much younger than him though (under instruction to point this out too!).

“The Young Ones” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I mentioned in the previous edition that Lloyd and his guys started the real work on the build of our dock on Sunday.

As much as I want the dock finished though I wished that they had observed Sunday as being a day for rest. Why? Well Rose and I went on a Poker Run the night before and I really stupidly (I know that I should know better at my age) tried to keep pace with the British Army guys over for the weekend and could have done without having to get up before 07.00 hours to open the front gate!

I felt tired anyway but just watching them made me feel even more listless as they set about ‘sinking’ the supports (PVC filled with concrete) for the dock.

First job was to get the pump in place to move the mud, silt or whatever else you might want to call it so that the supports could be securely positioned.

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A framework, to ensure that the supports are ‘sunk’ in the correct places was installed

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and then the posts started to go in.

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And then it was time for the last one to go in.

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and the working day for Lloyd and his boys was over. For me? I was still tired!

Feeling much better yesterday I was up bright (well actually it was still dark when I got up at around 04.30 hours) and early and headed out to the veranda -the western one on the first floor – with my mug of black coffee and the iPad. It was good to be able to enjoy my ‘me ‘ time. And I did for nearly two hours until it was time to shower, shave, brush the teeth and get dressed. I had errands to do!

First though? Yes, you’ve guessed it- breakfast at Estel’s Dine By the Sea. With breakfast over it was straight to the bank for the Monday morning queue. I knew that I would have a long wait but I needed the cash (bills to pay for the garden clean up).

I then popped in to Caribbean Depot to order three yards of gravel to finish off the garden and then it was straight to Captain Shark’s Boatyard to pick up paperwork for the boat and then just down the road to the Port of Belize office to register the boat in our name. It was all going so well and then … we found that absent from the raft of paperwork was the boat’s registration certificate.

The Port of Belize guy came up with a simple (and I would imagine well used) solution. Take out an advert in The San Pedro Sun and then return with a copy of the newspaper with the advert in it. So, only one thing for it. Straight to The San Pedro Sun’s office in Barrier Reef Drive

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where I booked the following to appear as a Public Notice:

” Jerry Jeff Walker hereby declares that his vessel registration certificate #SPR 0084 has been lost”.

The notice will appear in the next two issues for an advert rate of BZ$ 54.

On Thursday, when the next issue of The San Pedro Sun is published I’ll buy a copy and take it to the Port of Belize office when – hopefully- the boat ownership will be assigned to us.

Things hadn’t gone as well as I had hoped but they’d still gone pretty well and I was feeling good about life in general. That was until I got home and picked up on the sad news that Rik Mayall had died suddenly at the age of fifty-six.

I’m not too certain whether Rik Mayall was well known in the ‘States and Canada but for those of us born in the UK he is recognised as someone who brought a new meaning to TV comedy.

Bursting on to the scene in 1982 as a member of The Young Ones he played the role of a self-proclaimed anarchist and tantrum throwing Cliff Richard fan. For me though I will always remember his cameo appearances in Blackadder as Lord Flashheart. A truly sad loss.

The headline for today’s edition (in memory of Rik Mayall) is based on the single released in 1962 by Cliff Richard (who else) and The Shadows and reached number one in the UK Singles Chart.

“What a Fool Believes” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Up bright and early yesterday morning and out on the veranda – the western, lagoon facing one on the first floor- with a mug of black coffee (no sugar) and my iPad (the old one, not my iPad Air).

I sat out there for around ninety minutes , reading The Times online and catching up on emails and Facebook and then shortly before 07.00 hours I wandered down to the front gate to unlock it so Lloyd and his boys could get in for their day in the garden!

With the guys spreading the gravel I then showered, shaved, brushed my teeth, got dressed and headed to ‘Town for breakfast at Estel’s Dine By the Sea where I knew that I could tick off a few of Julian’s photo challenges.

Julian’s photo.

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My photo

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Location? The Gent’s toilet in Estel’s Dine By the Sea.

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Believe me now?

Julian’s photo.

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My photo (minus the birds).

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Location? Under the Aqua Sub dock in front of Estel’s.

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Returning home with a full belly and with two of Julian’s challenges off my list I was pleased to see the guys making good progress with the path laying.

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And Lloyd was busy tidying up the area between the two staircases.

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Looks pretty scruffy doesn’t it.

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The guys stopped working on the path when a lorry (truck for you non UK readers ‘out there’) delivering wood for the dock arrived.

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The driver took an absolute age (I lost count of how many times he reversed and then pulled forward ) manoeuvring his way through the gate. He displayed all of the signs of having a ‘blue note license’! So called locally because for the payment of BZ$100 (the bank note which is blue in colour) he obtained his driving license!

He eventually -with much barracking from all of us – made it through the gates and the wood was quickly unloaded.

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By now it was becoming patently obvious that my calculation of twenty-four yards of gravel being enough was wrong. A classic case of what a fool believes. I need to order another three yards, I’d under estimated by 12.5%.

Knowing that the delivery would have to wait until Monday, Lloyd and his guys turned their attention to starting work on the building of the dock. And they started by preparing the supports.

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Cutting the PVC pipes to size.

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Rebar frames being moved in to position.

And then it was time for the concrete pour.

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The guys were back again yesterday working on the dock but you’ll have to wait until the next edition to follow the progress. Cruel? You bet!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1979 by The Doobie Brothers which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number thirty-one in the UK Singles Chart.

“Close to You” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

On Thursday Rose and I went to Belize City to attend the July Wine Club Social at the Radisson Hotel.

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I booked seats on the 17.00 hour Tropic Air flight to the Municipal Airport and cognisant of this I had arranged with Caribbean Depot to make the final (well I hope they prove to be final) two deliveries of gravel by 15.00 hours. We’d agreed -Carmen of Caribbean Depot and I – (well I thought we’d agreed) that if they couldn’t be made by this time that it would be deferred until Saturday.

Three o’clock came and went and I was just about to go and shower and change when the ‘phone rang. It was Carmen, the lorries (trucks for non UK readers) were on their way. The best laid plans and all that …

Fortunately the two deliveries were made within minutes of each other and the 16 yards of gravel had been tipped by 15.50 hours.

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Ready for Lloyd’s boys!

Rose and I got to the Radisson Hotel in good time for the 19.00 hours start and had time enough for coffee before meeting the guys from BATSUB (Nick, Tod, Nanda, Geordie and Frank (Ziggy’s Dad) for a fun filled evening.

Frank was MC for the evening and had chosen some extremely high in alcohol content (lowest 13.5%, highest 15.5%) for the evening which included his own contribution of Buckfast. A particularly lethal wine that reminded me of drinking cough syrup!

At my age I should know better but I’ve got to admit that I over indulged. Caused in no small part by Frank’s very deft habit of just being on hand with an evil glint in his eye and a bottle in his hand when a glass empties!

The rest of the night is a bit of a blur for me.

Hi Ziggy here. The lovely Rose – my new Mum- and John came back to my house with my Dad, Frank in the early hours of the morning. They were very happy to see me and I was happy to see them. There was a lot of giggling going on and I think they had been out drinking some of that stuff called wine.

Rose (or Mum as I think I will now call her) made a big fuss of me. Stroking me and kissing me on my face and neck. I think I will get quite accustomed to this. And she smells so nice.

They stayed up for a while but it was fairly obvious to me that they were a little ‘worse for wear’ and it came as no surprise when they went to bed which gave me the opportunity I’d been waiting for to commandeer John’s iPad and camera!

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Selfie. Good looking guy, aren’t I!

The next morning I was up bright and early waiting for them to get up. I mean I know from my time at their house that John gets up early but I think someone must have slipped some sleeping tablets in his drink because he didn’t get up until 08.30 hours.

I was ready for some more kissing and stroking from Rose but I had to wait until they’d eaten breakfast. It was worth the wait though! And then it was time for some games in the garden.

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“Stay there Mum, I want to be close to you“.

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Not as big as their garden but I like it.

I’m going to have to ‘sign off’ now before he (John that is) sees that I’ve got his iPad. So until the next time …

Rose and I got the 15.30 flight back to San Pedro and on landing went straight to Captain Shark’s Boatyard to check on the adjustments they had made for the Bimini.

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Looking good!

We hadn’t been there very long when the guy from Giovanni’s Plastic Signs turned up to fit the name on our boat.

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Rose posing with the name.

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It’s on!

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Proud owners of Gunner.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1990 by Maxi Priest which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number seven in the UK Singles Chart.

Come back tomorrow for the next thrilling instalment!

“Lay It Down” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

In the previous edition I mentioned that I was diligently (OK, maybe not diligently but I am gradually ‘ticking’ them off) working my way through my current ‘to do’ list.

Yesterday I felt like I was really going to start cracking it when I set off from home with my mini list. And my instincts subsequently proved to be correct.

Before I left home though some more of Lloyd’s guys turned up at the gate in the back garden with some more sand to complete the land filling job.

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Approaching our back gate.

And within minutes the wheelbarrow was in action again.

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With work underway I set off and my first stop was Giovanni’s Plastic Signs

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to order the lettering for our boat’s new name. I chose the font and colour -red- was given a price and ordered it there and then. It will be ready and fitted on the boat Friday afternoon.

Next stop was Caribbean Depot in Blake Street to order three lorry (truck for non UK readers) loads (8 yards to a load) of gravel for our garden. My visit included measuring the width of the lorry to make certain that it could get through our gate. It could. So I placed the order!

On the way I home I stopped off at Osmin’s in Boca Del Rio to place the order for the galvanised steel gates/doors that we are having made for all external doors. They should be fitted within around (I try not to be too precise/specific since living here) four weeks.

I hadn’t been home long when the first load of gravel arrived.

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Would it get through the gate?

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Yes! And within minutes the load was tipped.

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And then it the turn of Lloyd and his guy (don’t know his name yet) to lay it down.

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had been laid on the southern side of the house and

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at the back of the house.

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Much better.

With time left it the day we hoped that we’d get a least one more delivery but it never arrived (get used to this kind if thing if you move here) so Lloyd and his guy called it a day. They were back here this morning though to start laying the small rock walks we want to define certain areas in the front garden.

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Delineation of the path from the front gate to the house.

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And within a couple of hours the walls were in place.

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Before I get this edition off-stone there’s just time to feature another of the Julian photo challenges.

Julian sent me this photo and asked me to find the location and take a photo myself.

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“Now where could this be?”.

The Bowen residence in Coconut Drive (opposite Wine de Vine)

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The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released (rather aptly) by Lloyd in 2010 and reached number sixty-four in the US Billboard Hot 100.

Oh by the way, I’m still waiting for the two loads of gravel!

“A Bird In The Hand” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

In an edition or so ago I mentioned that Rose and I were approaching our second anniversary of residing on Ambergris Caye.

Well the big day arrived last Saturday and we celebrated it in style with a bottle of champagne that I’d set aside for the occasion. You’re probably wondering why we didn’t ‘pop the cork’ on the first anniversary. Logical thought. But we decided that the second anniversary would have more significance for us:

We thought that by then the build of our house would be completed and we would be living it in. It was and we are.

We assumed that by then we would have gained acceptance in to the Qualified Retirement Programme. We did.

We also reckoned that we would have got our Belize Drivers Licences and bought our own golf cart (and dispensing with the costly rental fee in the process). We did and we have.

We would have taken the test, passed and got our Masters Licences. We have.

We also set ourselves the targets of having a boat and a dog by our second anniversary. We’ve got neither but we are close, oh so close. The boat should be with us in a few weeks and Ziggy returns to us for good on 25 July. So objectives nearly achieved.

Sitting on the veranda this morning- yes the western (lagoon) facing one on the first floor- with my mug of black coffee I spent a while reflecting on our (first) two years here. Things have gone pretty much as we had planned and hoped that they would. We’ve had to get used to some quite material differences to what we had grown accustomed to in the UK of course but we made the move having visited here many, many times over a long period and came here with our eyes wide open.

We’ve had to get used to things taking a little longer to get done than we’d got used to. We’ve had to get used to doing without some of the things that were so easy to source where we came from. But life has a way of offering up its compensations and for what we have ‘lost’ we have been more than ‘paid back’.

We’ve made a lot of acquaintances, many of whom we’re friendly with. We’ve got a great climate. And we get to see things every day that are a treat for the eyes.

My reverie was broken when my peripheral vision picked on an object to the south of me. Getting up I looked over the veranda railings and saw a golf cart with a lady sitting in it. Casting my eyes to the left of her I saw a small white dog in the act of ‘relieving’ itself. And then my memory (it still works occasionally) kicked in to gear. It was the lady (and dog) that I told you about a short while ago. You know, the one that takes her dog to ‘do its business’ on the vacant beachfront lot opposite us.

Now that irritated me but what I saw this morning really made me angry. Why? Well she’d chosen to let her dog ‘do its stuff’ in my neighbours (Pirate Villas) garden.

So I asked her what she was doing. “Giving my dog a walk” she replied whilst sitting in her golf cart! ” You are in someone’s garden” I replied. “He’s only having a walk” she retorted. “No he’s not” I replied, “He’s having a shit. Why don’t you take him to where you live to foul up the place”.

At this point she quickly said “Sorry”, called the dog to her and drove off.

As I write this some ten hours after the incident I still find it difficult to comprehend. How can someone drive past a bar/restaurant, see a house in front of her and not realise that someone lives there? Well they can. But only if they just don’t give a damn (I was going to ‘say’ “Don’t give a shit” but thought better of it!). And obviously this woman just doesn’t care.

I probably would have mulled over what I had seen for some while had Rose not called me to grab my camera and get down to the front garden. She’d seen a parrot on our little rock wall.

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“Who’s a pretty boy then”.

We recognised that the parrot was Skully who belongs to Jason our neighbour who owns Pirate Villas so I slowly moved my hand forward until he jumped up on to my finger.

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A bird in the hand. By the way, I’m the skinny one!

Walking very slowly we took Skully back to his ‘home’.

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I told you we see some wonderful things and have some great experiences.

Now I know that quite a few of you have patiently stuck with this in the hope that I’m going to provide an update on our garden clean up. So here it is.

On Monday only Billy turned up for work. Apparently Noel, flush with money from his wages for last week, had gone walkabout (before moving to Belize I thought that only Aborigines did this. Now I know differently). This didn’t deter Billy though, he set about doing the work of two men to move the sand from the end of the back garden to the areas that needed ‘filling’.

Filling the wheelbarrow

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and then placing it around the garden

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Billy determinedly and resolutely stuck to his task making the long walk to and from the pile of sand

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until the pile of sand was no more.

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Now had it been me I would have taken the rest of the day off (more like the week actually) but not Billy. Oh no. Because no sooner had he put the wheelbarrow down he carried large branches to the bonfire.

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Not content with that he then started clearing the area roadside of our fence.

Before Billy.

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After Billy.

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I’ve got lots more to tell you about because I had a successful day ticking things off my ‘to do’ list but you’ll have to wait until the next edition.

The headline for today’s edition is based on track eight of the album released in 1991 by Ice Cube which reached number two in the US Billboard Hot 200 chart.

“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

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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.

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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.

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Billy at work with the hoe.

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

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North-west corner.

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

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

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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.

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View of the front garden from the ‘cart ramp.

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And from the front gate.

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

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Central area of the front garden.

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

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Southern side of the house.

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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.

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And then the boat came in.

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And so did the sand.

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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.

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Front garden.

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North-east corner of front garden.

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North-west corner.

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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.

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Noel at work

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with the multi purpose machete.

And Lloyd led by example for a while too.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

On Wednesday Rose and I spoke at length (taking in to consideration the many comments we received via this blog) as to how we would tackle the Ziggy ‘problem‘.

After much deliberation and reflection we decided that we would let Ziggy sleep in the house. It’s not what we had intended but we recognise that the move to stay with us is most likely a traumatic experience for Ziggy. New surroundings. New routines. New people (pack). Quite a lot to contend with all in one go without being forced to sleep outside. So on Wednesday evening we took a change of tack.

Early evening we took him with us when we went to Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill where he very quickly became a source of attention. He’s a good looking ‘boy’ and very well behaved and it wasn’t long before people were coming over to pet and stroke him. He lapped it up and, if I’m honest, so did we. Two of the people that came over to make a fuss of him we had never seen before but within seconds it was obvious that they came from London, our part of the world.

They were Jill and Jim a retired couple originally living only miles from where we used to reside that now live in Spain. In fact Jim was a senior officer at our local police station. Pleased though that I never had the ‘pleasure’ of meeting him when he was in this line of work!

Jill and Jim have been away from their home since the beginning of the year on an extended holiday that before reaching Ambergris Caye has seen them visit Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore. They plan on travelling extensively through Central America but don’t know when they will start this because Jill immediately fell in love with Ambergris Caye. We know the feeling Jill.

With the ‘family’ outing over we headed home for dinner and a bit of TV and then the time came for bed. For Rose and I and Ziggy. I’d brought his bed in to the house and positioned it in the living room area before we went out

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Ziggy’s dream palace.

The change of location for the bed worked a treat. I got up the next morning at around 04.45 hours opened the bedroom door and there was Ziggy waiting to greet me. Tail wagging like crazy.

A survey of the living room area on the floor below indicated that he had not jumped up and slept on the sofa or chairs (we’d covered them just in case – well you never know…). I can’t tell whether he slept on his bed all night (actually I don’t know whether he slept on it at all) but one thing is for sure – our front door was unscathed (well apart from the damage already done to it). Result!

Feeling reasonably pleased with myself ((don’t know why really because it was Rose’s suggestion – she has all of the good ones (or so she tells me)) I made my self (Ziggy hasn’t mastered this yet!) a mug of black coffee and grabbed my iPad and Ziggy and I retired to the veranda.

When Rose joined us I showered, shaved, got dressed and Rose took off to take Ziggy for his morning walk on the beach

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An impatient Ziggy.

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“Come on, get the gate open”.

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“Look right, look left”. And they’re off.

No sooner than they were off I was too. Headed south for breakfast at Estel’s Dine By the Sea. Well, someone’s got to do it, haven’t they. And I was the ideal candidate!

When I got home after breakfast (I did take care of a few errands too) Rose and I went to Captain Shark’s Boatyard where Lewis our mechanic was waiting for us. As we approached the yard we could see the boat we are interested ‘sitting’ in the water.

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“Looking good”.

Lewis had brought along Captain Albe ‘Bam, Bam’ to take the boat out for its water test.

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Lewis on board with ‘Bam, Bam’ and me looking on.

The engine cover came off

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and Lewis tried to start the engine

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“Nada”.

So he tinkered around (technical term!) and ‘Bam, Bam’ had a try.

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But try as they might Lewis and ‘Bam, Bam’ could not get the engine started.

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Lewis told me what replacement parts are required and gave an approximation of what they and the labour would be and we disappointingly set off for home to fire off an email to the owner. We’re still interested in the boat but only if the price drops to accommodate the spend necessary to make it seaworthy.

We didn’t remain down for too long though because Ziggy wanted to play.

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Jill and Jim ( remember them? I mentioned them in the fourth paragraph) weren’t the only people we met this week. Oh no. We met a British actor (who must remain nameless at this time) who was in Belize researching for the leading role in a film that goes in to production in June. The film which will be called “Rough Cut” is based on the book by Owen Carey Jones, a native of this country. Another exclusive??

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1998 by George Michael which reached number three in the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart and number two in the UK Singles Chart.

“Fools Rush In” from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

My recent (OK a little bit longer than recent) scribblings (yes, I know you don’t scribble when using an iPad but…) have not been that frequent and have led to intermittent postings. This may (more likely may not) have caused some consternation (might be a tad guilty of over egging the importance of my blog to you) amongst some of you. I mean what keeps me so busy that I cannot spend ten/fifteen minutes a day rattling out an edition? Normally not a great deal really. It’s not as if I have a lengthy list of things to do every day is it?

In all honesty though I do have a list for every day. It’s got one thing on it. WAKE UP. If I manage this then it’s worth making a list but I’m not going to waste time on something I might not need, if you know what I mean!

Rose and I though do occasionally compile joint lists. And the one that we pulled together a short while ago included ‘arrange trip to Merida’. And not long after it was on the list Rose added ‘SOON’. With that kind of statement (instruction) what else could I do? Arrange it, that’s right!

So last Wednesday I booked two return tickets (well we also intended to return to Ambergris Caye) from San Pedro to Mérida (via Philip Goldson International Airport) via withTropic Air on the Friday service (the service also operates on a Monday and Wednesday).

We could have made the journey in a number of ways – water taxi to Belize City and then bus, water taxi to Corozal and then bus, fly to Corazal and then bus, water taxi to Chetumal and then bus (there may be other ways but quite honestly I’m bored now and it’s not as if this is a travel blog!) – but decided to take advantage of the discounted price (there’s still time to book because the offer runs until 15 April) offered for the expansion of routes by Tropic Air on 3 March.

With the travel arrangements made I then set about finding a hotel and this -with the invaluable assistance of the Internet- didn’t take too long at all. It just remained to pack our bags and change up some BZ$ for US$ (very easily achieved with a couple of bars and restaurants – they do, after all, takes lots of US$ from tourists!) and we were set to go.

On Friday morning we caught the 09.00 hours flight because the 10.00 hours flight was just too tight for comfort) to Philip Goldson International Airport so that we could connect with the 11.15 hours (one hour and forty- five minute flight) service to Mérida.

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Where we were headed. Mérida towards the top left hand corner.

With so much time on our hands it gave us the opportunity of taking a closer look at the changes made to the ‘International Airport since our last visit.

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The new Jet’s Bar. More spacious. Better equipped. More food on offer. But, to me, it’s lost a lot of its character. It’s quirky ness.

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Improved -cleaner lines – walkways and seating areas.

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The new (well for us anyway) cafe.

The time flew by and then it was time for our flight

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and for us to join the queue with the rest of the passengers (only one seat had not been sold) and then head out to our plane.

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Once on board the pilot very quickly set the course

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and we were heading down the runway

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and in the air

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and up in the clouds.

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It what seemed like no time at all (OK, after one hour and forty-five minutes) after an uneventful flight (even for Rose who is absolutely petrified of flying – the bones of my left hand usually bear testimony to this) we were heading toward’s Mérida

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and after a very smooth landing straight to Customs and Immigration

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where I showed just how much I need to learn Spanish.

Our passports were checked and stamped without any trouble at all. Great. With the first step out of the way I hurried forward as we were approached by a guy who came up to us and spoke very quickly in Spanish. The only word that I grasped was sandwich and, not realising that he was a Customs’ official, I thought that he was offering us food (I’m obviously not the brightest lightbulb in the box) and quick as a flash (note the bulb connection!) I replied that I really couldn’t eat another thing! Rose by this time was virtually doubled up whilst trying to convince the Customs’ guy that we weren’t trying to bring in any food. A classic case of fools rush in. I just know that I will never live this one down.

Getting over ((if I’m honest I will never (be allowed) to forget it)) my embarrassment we exited the airport

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and took a taxi ((for those that are interested in the ‘how much’ (and in a future edition I will give a cost breakdown for those of you that are interested (and for those of you are not for that matter) it was $MXN 200)) to our hotel which was a fifteen minute drive away.

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The Gran Hotel, nicely located on Calle 60 which(not with luck but the result of my research!) placed us centrally in the historic centre (centro – see, I’m picking up Spanish already!).

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Inside the hotel.

And our room:

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After quickly unpacking we headed out to start our exploration of Mérida, the capital of the state of the Yucatan, affectionately nicknamed ‘The White City’ ((as an aside, and in case that it might be of interest to some of you, I tried to establish the origin of this nickname but there is no clear cut – definitive- answer. Some say that it is because many of the original buildings were built of limestone (white). Others because of the cleanliness of the City – it is swept twice a day)) but first we needed to eat (remember I had declined the sandwich!). But not before we had a Mexican beer (I do enjoy Beliken but it’s nice to have a change) and some guacamole and tortilla chips.

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And then sopa de lima (look how my Spanish is coming along!) for me

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followed by conchineta pibil for me

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and a shrimp pasta for Rose.

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In future editions I’ll try to give you a better insight as to what Mérida has to offer and how Rose and I spent our (five nights) there. Can’t wait can you!!!!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the Ricky Nelson version released in 1963 which reached number twelve in the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart.

STOP PRESS.
Those of you that have been reading this blog for a while will probably remember that in a much earlier edition I mentioned that one of the properties near to where we live is the Hotel. This place partially operated (none of the rooms have ever had guests in them) when a bar, Molly Malone’s, was open for around six weeks between Mar-April 2012. Since then though it’s doors have remained closed.

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Well – is this an EXCLUSIVE (it needs to be in capital letters) ? – the Hotel opens it doors for business tomorrow, Friday 4 April when the bar and restaurant has a grand opening (or is it re opening ?).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Looking south.

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

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

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Including the low, back aching inducing bits.

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

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

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Until I painted the final plank.

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

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

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

“It’s All Over Now” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Up around 04.45 hours on Saturday morning and out on the veranda (the western, lagoon facing one on the first floor) before 05.00 hours with my mug of black coffee and iPad. It’s still dark at that time of the morning but that suits me fine. I Ike this time of the day. Not being able to see so much ‘kicks’ the seeing and smelling and hearing senses in to ‘top gear’ mode. Well, it does for me anyway.

At this time of the day I find that I can smell the foliage of the trees (not ours yet because they are too young/small but there are plenty in the adjacent lots) so much more. There are also so many so any different sounds to listen to. The sound of mullet jumping out of the lagoon and re entering it ((I’m sure that there is a proper term to describe it but it escapes me at the moment and I really cannot be bothered to engage the memory cells ( for one because I’m just plain lazy and secondly for fear that the cells will fail me)), the sounds of the leaves rustling in the breeze, the birds saying ‘good morning’ to each other. Oh, and the screeching of the raccoons. I haven’t worked out yet whether they are fighting off potential predators or if this is just how they normally ‘talk’.

There’s also the sounds of the outboards on boats leaving the lagoon side and those already on the Caribbean – sound carries so much when there aren’t so many golf carts, trucks or cars rattling (the road is bumpy) by the front of our house.

I took ‘time out’ to read the match preview for the up-coming Chelsea v Arsenal game in The Times on-line and felt (why, oh why did I feel this?) reasonably confident that we get a result. A draw at least. In this confident frame of mind I moved indoors. The time by then was 06.40 hours, five minutes before kick-off.

The confidence didn’t last long though. Within seven minutes we were two goals down. Within fifteen minutes we were down to ten men – having had Gibbs inexplicably sent off for a handball offence committed by Oxade-Chaberlain- and two minutes later we had let in another goal from the penalty spot. I sat and watched the whole excruciating game as the frailties of the team were exposed as we lost six nil. Whatever slim chance we had of winning the Premier League evaporated before my eyes. It pains me to admit it but, it’s all over now!

Feeling mightily disheartened (I really shouldn’t take football, and Arsenal in particular, so seriously) I needed a pick-me-up so headed to Estel’s for a late breakfast (well quite late by my normal standards).

Those of you that read what I put ‘out there’ with any degree of regularity may have (understandably I might add) formed the opinion that I am a creature of habit. I’ve spent quite a bit of time and a fair amount of money working out what I do and do not like so it seems a bit stupid to me to pay no heed to what I’ve spent to learn about myself. But Arsenal’s annihilation had created a confused state of mind and I decided to throw caution to the wind. Brave isn’t the word for it ((suggestions as to what the word (s) are is NOT requested even though you might like to let me know what you think!)).

Creating unheard of consternation amongst the team at Estel’s I told them that I didn’t want ‘my usual’ of eggs sunny side up, potatoes, bacon and tortilla. No, I was going to have a change. Substitute Charles’ world famous (OK I might be going slightly over the top here) corned beef hash.

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Feeling mightily pleased with myself for this momentous decision I savoured the tastes (and the ‘hash was good by the way) and enjoyed the view.

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Not bad, eh?

Feeling much better I concluded that it is only football after all (did I really write that?) and that there is always next season. If you are an Arsenal fan there is always next season. Sad, but true. And we do still have the chance to win the FA Cup.

With this much more balanced view of life (yes I know it’s only football) I set off home and on the way noticed two building projects in the Boca Del Rio area. It’s funny but since going through our own build I’m strangely drawn to other building projects. Something I need to be concerned about?

The first is a two storey extension above the Train Station that I understand is going to be a living area for the owner.

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It’s huge.

Just a way down the street is a much, much smaller project but one that is so typical of many of the homes on the island.

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They needed a shoe horn to fit this one in!

Looking across at the new construction I noticed that it was Rubio at work.

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Rubio on the right of the photo.

Rubio if you recall is the ‘main man’ that erected our fence for us.

I had a little chat with Rubio and then headed home and after reassuring Rose that I had made peace with the world again went and sat on the veranda where I heard the sounds of activity from the lot immediately north of us. Looking down I was immediately reminded of something that Kathi Moore had said to me only a few weeks previously when she and her husband Les had been on the island for their annual visit.

We’ve known Kathi and Les quite some time having first met them some years when we both chose the same time of the year for our holidays. Anyway, Kathi followed the build of our house via my blog from the outset and during it wasn’t slow in letting me know that she really, really didn’t want to see anymore rebar. So imagine my surprise when she told that she feared that she was suffering from withdrawal symptoms. So Kathi the next photo is just for you!

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Literally dragging my eyes away from the rebar (it can be done Kathi) I could see the guys moving pilings in to position.

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Using a rudimentary BUT very effective roller system.

And they then set about placing the pilings.

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I’ve just had a quick read of what I have written and it’s obvious to me (you too probably) that I haven’t fully recovered from Arsenal’s crushing defeat so I believe that for the sake of my sanity (and likely yours too) it’s best that I bring this edition to a close. I’ll leave you though with a couple of more normal photos!

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View from our front door. Not bad, eh?

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The sun setting last night.

Normal service will (hopefully) be resumed with the next edition. You’ll have to read it to find out though!

The headline for today’s (rather strange even if I do say so myself) edition is based on the single released in 1964 by The Rolling Stones which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart and number twenty-six in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Poetry in Motion” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I’m slowly (nearly everything I do now appears to be slowly!) realising that this blogging lark is not as easy as I first thought. Not that I’ve ever had great difficulty in using words. People that know me quite well might even ‘accuse’ me of verbosity! But just lately I’ve not been very good at ‘knocking out’ editions very regularly. Writer’s cramp? Other things on my mind? Too busy? Probably a combination of all of them.

Still getting up early in the morning and thoroughly enjoying my ‘me time’ on the veranda with a mug of black coffee and my iPad. Still venturing in to ‘Town for breakfast at Estel’s and still painting the bloody fence.! Whose idea was it to have a six foot fence around the lot (Rose!) anyway?

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My forlorn figure (figure!, who am I trying to kid) on the way to start again on the inside of the northern fence.

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Poetry in motion!

I have not spent all the time since the last edition (in fact I’ve spent hardly any time) painting the fence. There’s more to life than that after all and I didn’t move to Ambergris Caye, Belize to spend every waking moment with a paintbrush in my hand. Seriously, I didn’t.

On Monday Rose and I had the pleasure of spending time with Esme and her six year old grandson Tyler. Esme originates from Honduras but has lived in Belize for over twenty-six years but in all that time had never visited Ambergris Caye. Caye Caulker yes, but never in all that time has she made the extra twenty minute journey to Ambergris Caye.

So, why after such long a long time did she make the trip you’re thinking. Simple, she was delivering the remaining half of a pig that her husband Stephen had butchered (sounds horrible doesn’t it but I’ve never professed to be a vegetarian) for us. Stephen served in the British as a Master Butcher (come on, an army marches on its stomach) and occasionally (very occasionally we understand) can be persuaded to use his skills for acquaintances. And he very fortunately granted us this favour.

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Esme and Tyler arriving on the 10.30 hours Belize Water Taxi service from Belize City.

They’d intended to catch the 09.00 boat but the driver of the bus they caught to get to the terminal decided to wait for twenty minutes for some friends to connect with the bus. Only in Belize!

After safely packing the pork cuts away in the refrigerator it was time for Tyler to enjoy himself with a swim in the Caribbean so we the short walk from the house to the beach.

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Tyler impersonating a crab.

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And then a fish.

And then there was just time for a group shot (minus me) before hosing Tyler down (he loved it) before it was time to run them to ‘Town to catch the 15.00 hours taxi home.

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In the evening Rose and I went to Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill so that Rose could celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Rose was born in Cork a few years ago ( it would be unchivalrous of me -if not plain stupid- to say how many years ago) and this day has significant meaning to her. She no pseudo Irish person, she’s the real deal!

There was no draught Guinness on tap so we made do (very easy for me because I don’t like Guinness – and I tried it in the pub across the road from the brewery in Dublin) with Belikin but the T shirt that Rose was given was some consolation for her.

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Oh and the Belikin koozie .

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Green, obviously.

On Tuesday morning it was time to try the pig (no not in a courtroom but in a pan) and what better way to start the testing than with some Cumberland sausages. Stephen had provided both the traditional long sausage and a more conventional size. I elected to work my way up to the ‘big boys’ so started off with the latter.

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Only one place for them.

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In the pan!

Sorry, no photos of them on a plate. They weren’t there long enough!

On Wednesday I enjoyed a day out in Chetumal with five of the guys from BATSUB who were test driving the Land Rovers that they had taken delivery of only the previous day. Only ten miles on the clock when they set off.

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I’d caught the 07.00 hours Tropic Air flight to Corozal where the guys picked me up and then it was straight to

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“Well you’ve got to, haven’t you”.

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“Come to Daddy!”.

No photos of my burger (a Whopper, what else) ‘unclothed’ because Rose would suffer withdrawal symptoms. See I am a caring and considerate type.

I enjoyed a thoroughly enjoyable day with the guys – being constantly reminded in every store that we visited of all of the things that we can’t get in Ambergris Caye- before they dropped me off at Corazal airport

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so that I could get the 17.30 hours flight home.

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Me ‘doing’ my back seat driver(pilot) bit.

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Nearly home.

Oh, I meant to mention earlier, remember the new beach bar in Boca Del Rio I told you about around a month ago, well I understand that Ismael (the owner) is aiming to open it for Easter.

Got to bring this edition to a close now, I’ve got a fence that needs painting!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1961 by Johnny Tillotson which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart.

“Many Rivers to Cross’ in Belize.

The regular or fairly regular readers among you will know that there has been (again) a fairly prolonged period since the last edition. If you are a first time ‘visitor’ or haven’t ‘visited’ this blog for some time you won’t have noticed a thing. Having started off today’s edition in this explanatory vein I’m now starting to question why.

Frankly it’s probably due to the fact that as I sit here trying to ‘knock out’ an edition there’s an abject lack of lucidity about my thought process and even more so as far as creative inspiration (who am I kidding) is concerned. I shouldn’t be surprised really because it’s been that type of week. One in which I have failed to really concentrate on anything in particular.

I’ve done a bit more weeding – in fact I think I probably did no more than pull up the weeds that have grown since I last weeded, no fresh ground cleared- and I’ve painted some more of the fence. I washed the golf cart – so much easier since getting a hose pipe!

I have not unsurprisingly continued to enjoy my ‘me time’ on the veranda early morning and I’ve made the trip to Estel’s a couple of times but it hasn’t been a ‘stand out’ week if you know what I mean. You know one of those weeks where you feel, in fact you know, that you’ve accomplished something.

OK, so Rose and I,flushed with the success of gaining our Masters (boat captain) Licenses, did spend some time making our first foray in to trying to find a boat to buy. And the obvious place to start our ‘window shopping’ was at Captain Shark’s boatyard in the DFC area.

Speaking of Captain Shark’s, they’ve recently revamped their cart display area in Coconut Drive. It’s now starting to look like a real car(t) showroom.

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OK, so there are no salespeople present. And you can’t walk in off the street to look closely at the carts but by San Pedro standards this is a showroom.

Talking about face lifts (no, not Joan Rivers) I am quite taken by the artwork on the security gate of the San Pedro Yacht Club (formerly Belize Yacht Club).

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Half tempted at taking a crack at our front gate!

Now where was I (told you I have had problems focusing) ? Oh yes, boats.

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Not like this though (taken when I was breakfasting at Estel’s the other day)

but

like these

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or this

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Formerly owned by Jerry Jeff Walker. Like the boat. But the name? Now that’s another thing.

Sticking with boats, our friends from BATSUB are currently taking part in the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challeng where they would have many rivers to cross and came over the weekend before last for the Poker Run and some last minute training. They were convinced that lifting bottles of Belikin to their lips would strengthen the biceps!

I’ve been following their ordeal via their Facebook pages and am taking the liberty (hope you don’t mind guys) of reproducing some of their photos.

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The team, Nick, Sean and Ian posing in front of their boat Sailfish 1.

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And they’re off.

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“Put your back in to Nick!”.

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Time for a photo call.

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“Don’t be shy lads”.

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“That’s better”. Ever the perfectionists, it’s time for some training. Yep, a Belikin!

Today the guys have, as they put it, the final 26 mile sprint. Good luck lads. And well done.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single (a cover version of the Jimmy Cliff song) released in 1983 by UB40 which reached number sixteen in the UK Singles Chart.

“Ladies Night” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Got up around 05.00 hours yesterday. Same routine as most days. Make ((Make? Who am I kidding! Spoon of coffee from the jar in to a mug and pour boiling water on to it – the only skill (?) required is to make sure you don’t pour too much water from the kettle. And even I can do that. If I pay attention!)) a mug of coffee, pick up the iPad and carry both to the veranda (opening the sliding door first, of course).

The start of the day then was much the same as it is most days. Or was it? No, definitely not. Why? Well I just couldn’t enjoy my ‘me time’. I tried to savour the smells, sounds and sights (even when dark there are still things to see) of the early morning. Failing, I brought The Times up online but couldn’t really concentrate on and enjoy what, for me, is normally a good read. I kept thinking of the test later in the morning that Rose and I had to pass if we were to gain Masters (boat captain) Licenses.

The test was scheduled for 11.00 hours at the Port of Belize office which is located south of the DFC area but first we had a further practice session at Caribbean Villas Hotel at 09.00 hours. So, after showering, shaving (me that is, not Rose), dressing and having breakfast we set off at around 08.45 hours.

By the time we arrived (slightly late but early by Belizean standards!) Andy was untying our practice boat and Veronique and Joy (our fellow ‘students’) were sitting patiently on the pier.

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Our practice boat.

After a few goes each at taking the boat from the pier and then mooring it the time had reached 10.00 hours so Andy and Joy set off in the boat for the ‘test centre’. Veronique popped to a nearby friend’s house and Rose and I had a coffee and then took the road south and arrived at the ‘test centre’ just before 11.00 hours.

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The ‘test centre’.

Within minutes of our arrival Andy and Joy pulled in to the quayside and after securing the boat we all introduced ourselves to Hector, our examiner.

He explained what was required of us – nothing too taxing, just that we should take the boat out in to the lagoon and then bring it back to the quayside and moor it.

Rose, with her nerves somewhat frayed, elected to go first

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Rose completing the test.

Rose, being Rose, on setting foot on the quayside, couldn’t contain herself and asked Hector if she had passed (women, no patience!) and virtually jumped for joy (no, not Joy our fellow test-taker, but in elation). One down, three to go!

Veronique then set off and hadn’t gone too far when the engine stalled.

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Commodore Andy Milner to the rescue.

With the engine going again Veronique resumed her test.

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Hector the examiner observing Veronique’s approach.

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Safely and confidently in.

Next up was Joy (me ever being the gentleman employed ‘the ladies first rule’! ).

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Joy heading for the quay.

With Joy ashore it was my turn. No putting it off any longer.

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Honest, that is me in the boat.

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Told you!

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A slow and careful approach to the quayside.

Once ashore Hector informed us that we had all passed.

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The ‘victors’ pose.

All us of us agreed that we would be celebrating our success and given that I was outnumbered it would definitely be a ladies night (give me a break, I know its terrible but I was struggling for a song title link for the headline).

Next up for Rose and I is looking for a boat to buy.

The headline (terrible link as it may be) is based on the single released in 1979 by Kool and the Gang which reached number eight in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number nine in the UK Singles Chart.