Dr Who and Peanut Butter

Sunrise

It may seem that I whinge and whine a lot about things in general. I’d hate for anyone reading my random ranting to feel that I am permanently angry/passionate about something or other. I don’t spend my life screaming at the television or slamming my laptop lid in rage just because of a Jollywood comment on Facebook; yes there really is a Facebook page called Jollywood. It’s written by and for the residents of Jolly Harbour here in our little bubble within a bubble on Antigua – you’ve got to be careful with bubbles within bubbles, too many damn bubbles and you suffocate.

I assume the term ‘Jollywood’ has been created with a certain amount of irony because there is nothing remarkable about our little community and those of us who live here certainly have no cause to believe we’re anything special in this world. There is no sparkle, glamour or glitz – despite the best efforts of some people who think they’re living in the 1970s and regularly turn up to the casual beach bar in ensembles reminiscent of The Working Man’s Clubs of yesteryear. Think Abigail’s Party and you won’t be far off the mark. The first time someone requests Demis Roussos at any one of the seemingly endless Karaoke nights within our villa’s earshot and I’m going to piss myself so Tena pads at the ready.

 It’s been nine months since we upped sticks, packed our lives into eight suitcases and two dog boxes – along with forty boxes of sea freight which took forever to arrive and when they did, we realised that we don’t need most of the crap we packed. I think nine months is enough time to have a tiny period of reflection.How do I feel sitting out here on this little rock now it’s more than just a holiday? It feels liberating. It’s hard to explain but I’ll try.

 1. Dog walking.

 I spent years walking, trudging and splodging around over and at times under the Great British countryside with the dogs through four seasons in one day. Here? I get to swim in milky turquoise water most mornings. Water which has the temperature of bath water – except for a few months earlier in the year when I walked into the water screamed, “Shit that’s Baltic and ran back out again” to have John stare at me like I’d finally fallen off the cliff into a chasm of pure insanity. It wasn’t Baltic and I may have been labouring the point a little by coming home, putting on socks and insisting on a hot chocolate. The air temperature had dipped below twenty-five degrees centigrade. Yeh I know, get over it Trish. I love and look forward to walking Holly and Fred now and each morning brings new joys. Will the rays be jumping this morning? Will I see dolphin and their young feeding just offshore? Will I find a jewel like conch shell in the sand? Those are the mornings I stand and breath and feel the warm trade winds on my skin and if it rains? It’s warm rain and the walk home is fragranced by all the beautiful blooms lining our street, blooms which throw off their perfumes after each rainfall. That is a simple joy.

 2. Dr Who, Star Trek and Sherlock Holmes.

 On the days we get the rain, and believe me this island lives and dies by rain. We have no permanent fresh water supply so Antigua relies on collecting rainfall and water production by reverse osmosis plants. I’ve been told that the plants rely on good sea conditions as heavy seas drag in all sorts of debris which blocks up filters and intake pipes so there can be no fresh water production. So when we do get rain it’s a real celebration, it means filled water tanks, crops stand a chance of growing and livestock get fresh scrub to eat. In short the island bursts into life. There’s not much to do when it rains. John’s discovered the joy of metal sculpture and I crack on with my latest tapestry, all this to the background of whatever our limited cable TV can throw at us. We get BBC America, woo-hoo. Not very exciting I know but it is to me because most days there is a constant stream of Dr Who, Star Trek and Sherlock Holmes. I can indulge my nerdy self in pure unadulterated geek porn. The simple peace on those sort of days is hard to describe. I suppose it’s like being swaddled in a cocoon of contentment whilst eating peanut butter on hot toast, where nothing else exists beyond the sound of rain and Jean-Luc Picard commanding, “Make it so Number One”. Even the barrage of adverts trying to sell me crap I don’t need with money I don’t have can be ignored.

3. Simplicity 

Let’s get the elephant out of the room before I start on about simplicity. Yes I know it took that thing called money and privilege to be able to live here. Understood, accepted now fuck off before you lecture me.

So I live here, got here through means I’ve mentioned in other posts. Life is actually pretty simple. For example, I’m wearing an old well-worn cotton floaty dress thing and swimming costume that has seen better days. Most days I wear a pretty much the same sort of ensemble, unless we’re off sailing and the floaty dress thing is ditched in favour of something with less fabric. I’ve drawer loads of clothes unworn and composting gently in cupboards unopened for weeks. John’s the same. Shopping isn’t a past time here not only because there are NO vast shopping hellholes but also because it’s just not important. Anything you do wear will be bleached by the UV and designer labels will be rotted down to sawdust by the sea air in the same time as a cheap cotton top. Life has simplicity when you don’t care about clothes, shopping and stuff, crappy pointless stuff, stuff that doesn’t really do anything – like a spiralizer, why the living fuck did someone invent a spiralizer? I got a free one once and to this day I don’t know what it really does. It mangled up a couple of carrots so I thought it might be a new sort of sex toy but given the blade in it I figured even the most ardent fetishist might wince at that. I can happily live without carrot mangling vibrators thank you very much.

4. People 

Humans are an amazing species. People are capable of love, generosity, invention and laughter. I wish I could bottle the essence of some of the humans I’ve met here. I’ve sat and shared hours with adventurers, philosophers, farmers and fishermen as well as travellers passing through Antigua and so many other varieties of person with realities so very different from my own. Humans never cease to amaze me. Sure there are some right royal pains in the arse but they’re fleeting and crossing their paths is a blinding flash of slight annoyance. There’s a woman, Claudine, she sits under a tamarind tree day after day selling trinkets and clothing to tourists, she is a huge gossip and if it’s happened in Antigua she’ll know about it, this woman has a smile for everyone, even the most racist of tourists who pass her by who at best ignore her and at worst look at her like she’s crawled from beneath their thousand dollar sandals. Her strength to get up and work that beach day after day to bring home food to her family – who all work to do the same – is incredible. I sure as hell couldn’t paint on that smile every single day, mainly because I was born with a face that can’t hide disgust or ambivalence. Some call it ‘resting bitch face’ I call it ‘fuck off now before I go Sparta on you’ face. When I’m quiet, be afraid, be very very afraid. When my lips are moving my brain isn’t working, when my lips aren’t moving my brain has already pictured you in a shallow grave.  Yeh, I’m still working on that long lasting inner peace thing but I’m getting there. Anyway, Claudine is one of thousands of people in Antigua who do the same job day after day and still manage to smile. We have another friend, Kevin, he goes out every morning with his fishing net to catch sprat or he goes diving for octopus, lobster or conch for his breakfast and we have sat for hours just talking about nothing and everything. Of course I can’t forget Vincia, she is an inspiration to hard working mothers everywhere. Her three boys are incredible young men and no matter how busy her day has been she has a smile on her face. Not only is she generous of heart, for example if her tree has only two ripe pomegranate, then I know we will be given the other. It is a true joy to know such amazing people here.

 I know I’m writing off my usual style but I don’t want anyone who reads this blog to think I spend each day looking for the terrible in life. I don’t and I guess now that the tourist high season is over we should have no more Airbnb guests so we’ll have more chance to reconnect with our friends here, and to sail of course, more sailing is definitely needed because I am determined to get out there more often now that my guts don’t form an escape committee every time we leave the slip.

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Choose Your Bubble Carefully.

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I knew it would happen at some point. No I haven’t been placed on Trump’s travel ban list, although I’m sure that I’ll be on a list of undesirables somewhere on the planet if only because of my tattoos. Apparently because of my choice to have talented artists draw beautiful designs on my body I am:

  1. Uneducated
  2. Deaf
  3. Unemployable
  4. Capable of ripping unborn babies from the womb and burning them in sacrificial rituals.

 Oh ok, the fourth one may be an exaggeration but given the facial ticks and Tourette’s type comments elicited from some observers of my body art I’m quite sure that’s what some people think when they see me. I’ve had comments ranging from “Urgh, what’s she going to look like when she’s older?” to “I hate being served by people with tattoos, they’re just so dirty” and one very extreme reaction to my body art was at a village community meeting back in The UK when someone actually moved their chair away from me because clearly my art work is contagious. Just to educate you non-tattooed people out there, no they’re not contagious but petty minded ignorance is. I may not have been born with tattoos but I was born with thick skin and I bear detractors comments and actions rather well. The second comment I mentioned was spoken behind my back when at an ATM. It was a hot day in my old home town so I had on a t-shirt and I was proudly wearing my body art for all to see; I even think I may not have had on a bra so I was committing a further outrage by having both my nipples and their piercings clearly visible through the thin cotton – shock gasp horror, women have nipples ARGGGGHHHHH. Anyway, the hag faced bitch troll had obviously said those comments so that I could hear because she continued her rant about people with body art generally. I got my money, turned around and looked her square in the face and said, “Yeh well love, some people might think you’re too old to be wearing that outfit it’s just most people are too polite to say anything” I know, I was as bad as the bitch troll from hell but fuck it, sometimes the ‘be nice’ button in my head is on a well-earned holiday.

 So what has finally happened? Homesickness, that’s what has happened and it has crept in stealthily over the last week or so. Yeh yeh I know Antigua is home now and I’ve bleated on long enough to all in ear shot about how utterly fabulous it is here, and it is. I’m not sick for things back in The UK. I can live without decent cheese (we do get cheese here, good stuff too but you need a mortgage to buy it). I can exist quite merrily without British television and I can even tolerate the US channels we get here with their endless sodding adverts catering to viewers who have the attention span of a hyperactive squirrel. The adverts do make me wonder if The USA is a nation of pile suffering dodgy bowel victims who have psoriasis and/or at some point have been butchered when having trans-vaginal mesh implants. I didn’t even know what a trans-vaginal mesh was until I Googled it. There are some things that just can’t be unseen.

I don’t miss the Britishness of life and we could talk all day about what is Britishness anyway. If you were to go by some people here Britishness seems to be endless rounds of G&T evenings sitting around slagging off how shit everything is here (I’ve been to one or two of those sort of gatherings) and how they really should do things like they do back in The UK. I understand finally now what Jamaica Kincaid* meant when she called out on people who came to Antigua thirty plus years ago. She said it was because English people had no opportunity to feel superior on the planet now the Empire was dead so they bought properties here on Antigua because it is a corner of the world where they can still feel superior. I know I’m an Englander too but fuck me backwards with a wet kipper, I hope to hell I am NEVER like some of the Englishers I’ve met here over the last few months. A prime example of one such wank stain was heard by John when he was pulling down the pier outside our house. A neighbour leaned over his balcony a few doors down and told John he should get a black guy to do that because apparently ‘they cope with it better than us’. There we have it folks, insidious twatting bollocking racism in all it’s glory. It might seem an innocent enough statement to some people, but behind it was generations of the ‘Them and Us’ mentality. Mr Britisher might like to remember that historically The Antiguans’ ancestors didn’t actually volunteer to come here and work in the sweltering sun all day. Black or white, sweat is the same colour. I even met a woman who’s been coming here from The UK for over ten years,  she holidays in the same hotel, and for the last ten years has told everyone within range how much she’s paid for her three weeks, how Antigua is a shit place and how the people are horrible. Why come? No-one is holding a gun to her head every time she waltzes into a travel agency. She is not unusual in her attitude either, on our first visit to Antigua we were greeted by a woman on the beach who announced that her an her husband had been coming here for years and it’s all a bit shit really, from immigration right through to customer service and proceeded to tell me how lovely it is in Gloucestershire, where she lives. I simply stated “Fred and Rose West loved Gloucestershire too”. She quickly left our company and didn’t bother trying to make eye contact for the rest of the holiday, RESULT! My point? There are good and not good people all over the planet so don’t go slagging off a country in which you are a guest**. Also remember, as a guest you have the luxury of choice, you chose to visit here, you may even have set up a home here but unlike many who were born here you have the privilege to leave at any time. This is your bubble of choice, it might not be a perfect bubble, but where is?

 I miss friends and some family. I’ve been a snotting dribbling mess since my daughter visited. She’s gone now and it hit me how much I miss not being a bus or train ride away from both my son and my daughter. They’re both cool people to be around and I miss that. I was getting over my misery of Caitlin leaving when I received a letter from my Women’s Institute friends and it set me off again. So if you visit Antigua and there’s a tall, tattooed dribbling mess on the beach, it’s me. No change from when I lived in the UK some may think but I have a tan now.

That’s not to say I’ve not made new friends, of course I have. Our Airbnb room has provided us with so much more than a financial income. One simple run to the airport with a guest resulted in being paid in rum, which John exchanged for about one hundred foot of rope. I love it when currency isn’t just dollar bills.

We’ve met some amazing people from all over this planet and at some point I’ll write a bit about that, but only the nice ones. So if any past guests are reading this and you don’t get a mention in the future that means you were a twat (just joking?)

 The homesickness will pass and I’ve no doubt when I have a trip back to The UK I’ll feel homesick for Antigua, my little bubble of choice.

*Thank you Katarina for the loan of ‘A Small Place’

** Thank you to Dorothy for keeping me grounded and reminding us when needed that we are guests.

For Fuck’s Sake, Put That Thing Away.

we-be-pirates(Picture by Karen van Rensburg)

We’ve got a boat, a yacht, a saily thing, and a bloody huge massive responsibility. Her name is Mahalo which means thank you in Hawaiian, which is fitting because all I’ve been saying to people all week is thank you. To say I’m bricking myself is an understatement. I know the pointy end from the flat end just about and I know the flappy bits are sails. As far as all the other terminology goes, it could be Martian. I nearly punched John when he said we were going to spend the day checking for seacocks, I thought he was taking the piss. I envisioned him standing stark bollock naked in a cabin and asking me to come look for a seacock, but no, apparently that’s a real thing. Somewhat like ‘The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy’ where all ‘hoopy froods’ know where their towel is, all good sailors know where their seacocks are and most importantly there needs to be a bung too. I might be laying my ignorance on with a trowel here but I really cannot stress enough how sodding scary it is to know that each time we go sailing out into the blue, the only thing keeping us alive is the protective embrace of Mahalo and until yesterday my only experience of anything boatish had been three ferry trips (where I threw up my intestines), a narrow boat holiday, a few days out with friends on their motorboats (I threw up the remainder of my intestines and quite possibly some lung too), floating on an airbed and I once owned a rowing machine. How Holly and Fred are going to adapt to the life of salty sea dogs I have no idea. I envisage all three of us up at the pointy end vomiting and howling in self-pity. John on the other hand is as happy as a wank addict in a sex shop and I’m just going to have to trust Pirate Captain John for my education on all things yachting.

 It may seem that I have sex on the brain because of all this talk of seacocks and sex shops* but it is in fact quite the opposite. It’s high season here on Antigua; we get cruise ships docking in St John’s daily, sometimes up to four of them. Each ship is a floating multinational city full of eager travellers all busting to find a beach, strip off and feel the sugar sand between their socks and sandals, known to me as The SAS Brigade. The SAS I can deal with, they walk up and down the beach covered from head to toe in Marks and Spencer’s finest cruising clothes collection, sunhat, black out shades and enough sunscreen to prevent even one ounce of vitamin D getting through to their skin. No, those gentle skin cancer conscious folks are not the issue; it’s the other sort, the ‘I’m going to drop my shorts and push my dangly old cock in your face’ types to whom I object. There’s nothing like the sight of a big hairy pair of bollocks or a Granny fanny being thrust in your face on a beach to put you right off sex for a while. I’m all for freeing the nipple; tits, boobies, gazongas, jubly bags of fun, whatever you want to call them are not a sexual organ but a flaccid cock (or not so flaccid on one occasion) is quite a violation especially on a public, non-nudist beach. There’s nothing stopping cruise travellers or anyone else for that matter, undressing and changing into swimming clothes discreetly. Hell’s teeth, John is a very body confident man but even he draws the line at waving his tackle around in public, we can exclude the naked Wii-fit hoola-hooping incident one Sunday morning in our living room, at least that was in the privacy of our own home and I did have net curtains at the time. So that’s a little plea from me, and I am so non-prudish, please please if you’re going to strip off on a non-nudist beach don’t be foisting your flaps, scrotum or foreskin at poor unsuspecting beach bums. I nearly dropped the book I was reading and there’s no telling what sort of  incident that could have caused**.

 Back to Mahalo and away from genitals. She’s a lovely yacht. She’s a 1986 Wauquiez Centurion; 40 foot of beautifully nurtured vessel. I may be ignorant of all things floating but even an uneducated eye can see she has stunning lines. I’m not ashamed to admit I slept on board last night even though she was tied up to our dock. Every creak and groan in the unusually high winds could not stop her from lulling me into one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time. I don’t know if yachts absorb energy? Maybe that’s too hippy-dippy even for me, but the sense of love and care Mahalo has experienced radiates out of every inch of her gleaming teak interior. Thank you Delwyn and Tom for allowing us to buy her from you, and we will do our very best for her. Of course we have to thank Karen and Michael for dealing with the brokering too. We were hand held from start to finish by Lighthouse Yachting here in Antigua, right down to getting a lovely big hug from Karen when I broke down in tears of joy and awe when we received the keys to Mahalo. I cry lots but I think it might be a shock to some people when this big strapping six-foot woman blubs like a baby, which I do at every opportunity. Of course if you remind me of this I will punch your lights out.

We’ve met a lot of people who told us the same thing; that living on Antigua without a boat is only half a life. To experience life and the island to it’s fullest you need to get on the water and live life in three hundred and sixty degrees. Whilst that side of it is very true, Mahalo also opens up the world to meet other people, not just cruisers but to visit other islands and experience their culture, food, society and language. We have been blessed with so many wonderful gifts since moving to Antigua, by which I mean the gifts of friendship, kindness and knowledge. Somedays we meet new people, some days we meet no people and we lock ourselves in our little bubble which extends no further than villa to beach and back again and that’s what is so lovely, we have that choice and I will no longer spend time apologising for the privilege we have that affords those choices; I spent a long time feeling very guilty about moving here and living the life we do, I think that feeling of privilege guilt makes sense? I could give everything away, go live in a cave, paint myself purple and pray to the universe for an end to poverty, hunger and world peace, but fuck it, I’m not going to do that. It’s going to take a lot more than a cave dwelling purple hippy asking the universe for help to sort out the mess of global politics right now.  John, the dogs and me are going to enjoy our fruits so there! Not once in my childhood did I think I’d live outside of our village, let alone the UK and the idea of owning a yacht? Fuck off, only posh twats do that! Well I’m not a posh twat I’m just one lucky, awestruck woman.

*A good title for an album that, if any of you lovely readers are musically minded, I look forward to seeing an album released with that name some day, maybe, ahhhh hush your tutting and sighing, you never know.

** Brian Moore’s second autobiography ‘Beware of the Dog’. He writes how he played rugby; fierce, brutal, raw.

Thank Goodness for Dogs

jen

Thank Goodness for Dogs.

(Not so much praise for irresponsible abusive fucking retard humans who can’t be bothered to act with a shred of decency)

Facebook and I have always had a strange relationship. I love that I get to stalk fellow humans and judge them based on their posts. I’m sure that I’m not alone in this behaviour and if anyone reading this wishes to reciprocate my conduct that’s fine, fill your boots, have a ball, I welcome it, BRING IT ON BABY because I am my own worst critic and no matter how pathetic, sad, stupid or insignificant someone else thinks I am, I think of myself in far worse terms than anyone else ever could. Saying that, I also think I’m amazing, fabulous, gorgeous, scintillating, scandalous and exotic too. My hugely exaggerated sense of self is neutralized by my self-loathing, so fret not, I’m not about to arm myself with guns and shoot the shit out of a shopping mall. Although maybe I might, I’m not exactly sure of the gun laws here in Antigua, whatever they are, they can’t be as fucked up as the US. There again given the current political climate in The USA, I think access to guns by socially rejected teens, unsupervised children, the rabidly unhinged and the police is the least of that country’s worries right now.

I had very little knowledge or experience of US politics beyond the UK’s mainstream media outlets prior to my move to Antigua. After about four weeks of a constant bullshit barrage from our cable TV here I started to get a clear idea of how The US political system works. In brief, it’s just as fucked up as The UK’s and misinformation fed to the electorate swells nationalism, racism and ignorance. The posts that I’ve seen on Facebook over the last twelve months, some from whom I considered friends has shocked even me. I’m not sorry to say some of these people have been deleted and blocked out of my Facebook sphere (yeh Trish stick it to em good, that’ll show em, or not). A friend of mine said that the only way to deal with racism, sexism and downright ignorance is to educate and I go along with that to a certain degree, but you can’t educate a rotting corpse, spend too long around that level of stench and some of it rubs off on you and infects your ability to empathise. It does me anyway.

 …..AND BREATH IN BREATH OUT, BREATH IN BREATH OUT. REPEAT UNTIL THE RAGE PASSES.

 Meanwhile, back in the real world here in the bubble of Antigua the struggle goes on. Oh shut up with the “what the fuck do you know about struggle you lucky bitch, drinking rum and enjoying the sunshine whilst the rest of us in the northern hemisphere are freezing our doo-dahs off?” I mean the struggle against an endless stream of unwanted pups and uncared for adult dogs here in Antigua. John and I were pootling along in our daily life. We set out with purpose to hunt and gather a fly screen for the door, some cream cheese for a carrot cake and to find a mirror for the guest bedroom (It’s not all rock ‘n’ roll or drinking dark and stormies from a floating bar in a turquoise sea you know). So, We came back with a dog. A dog, yes, a dog, a three month old brindle ridgeback cross puppy. What the hell could we do with a half dead tiny scrap of a pup we found wandering in and out of the traffic in a village called Jennings. Of course the rehoming centre was full. So being the type of humans we are, we contacted Dogs and Cats of Antigua (namely Joy Farrell) and asked her for help. Eventually we agreed to foster once we’d got this wee thing to a vet, established what sort of nasty diseases we might be dealing with, treated her with medication, food, water and love, all with the view to finding her a nice new permanent home. We got her sorted out with the wonderful help of the vets at The Ark Vet’s Centre in St John’s and brought her home to meet Holly and Fred. Neither of whom was impressed at all. Holly took one look at her, growled and sulked off into a corner. Fred sniffed her, decided that this little pup was naturally Satan incarnate, whimpered and legged it into his corner*. So, we ended up with Jen, Jen the Jennings puppy. We were unsure whether she’d survive the night, but she did and as is the way of puppies, she bounced back to health within forty eight hours. So here we are, we have a tiny house with two humans, two adult dogs and one tiny screaming puppy, no secure gallery and no yard. Piss and poo time is bad enough already without throwing an un-housetrained puppy into the mix. Shit. Oh shit shite bugger damn. I know John and I wondered what we’d taken on, especially with the four in the morning wake up yowls. We’re too old for babies and poor old Holly certainly is. The cavalry arrived to our help, Facebook, the enemy, the lurker, the misinformation demon itself. On the occasions Facebook works, it works so well. Dogs and Cats of Antigua group might not have a physical location, but my gods it comes up with a plan of action. It’s exactly like a dog howl. It starts with one message and a cute photo of a little abandoned and pup and then BAM! A whole load of other people continue the howl and before you know it there’s an adoption agency in the US and/or Canada willing and able to find a home for these pathetic little mites.

 Two weeks on and little Jen is flying off on Saturday to a new home in New Jersey. Joy, Lynda and Jo from Dogs and Cats of Antigua, Lauren in the USA combined with FOWA Rescue over there in New Jersey, Dr Francis at The Ark and Dr Edwards the Government vet here on Antigua have all been instrumental in getting Jen away from her miserable start in life and the chance to find yet more humans who give a damn about those on this planet who have no voice. I was told that John and I have done a great thing for Jen, but I replied that only a complete bastard wouldn’t. On the day we stopped to pick up Jen from the road another lovely human, Susie stopped as well, so whatever Jen’s future she had two people willing to stop that day and that’s all it takes, one human at a time helping one of the voiceless at a time. For many dogs here it’s their only chance of a safe loving future, to get off island. There are too many strays plus too many un-spayed/neutered dogs and these dogs pop out a seemingly endless stream of new life for which there are not enough homes. Without the support of local people,people living here, holidaymakers and people travelling to and from Antigua regularly, these dogs would stand no chance at all. I know cats and {insert animal welfare issue of your choice} have the same problems, I know humans with mental and physical disabilities need help, I know those humans facing poverty need assistance, I know pretty much every human on the planet with the exception of the one percent are having a hard time right now,  but I’m writing about my experience with a dog because at that time in that space where I found Jen, she needed help and she got it.

Now I’m sitting typing this with a lump in my throat and a few salty tears and snot dripping down my face at the prospect of waving goodbye to Jen, but shag me backwards with a wet kipper, if us privileged humans can’t do something kind once in a while, well we really are all fucked as a species. So please think on, just be kind. Kindness doesn’t need to cost a shed load of money. Ok, lesson over, be about your day peoples.

 BE KIND, OK?

*Fred has accepted Jen into the pack. They spend many hours a day play fighting. He’s a real Daddy dog, a gentle lovely soul, but Holly? No, not so much. I think her days of being a parent are long gone, even Grand parenting is not on her agenda.

Blatant Self Promotion.

boaty

We have decided to open up our bubble to visitors.

Please feel free to visit the website and book book book.

We promise to not be all up in your face when you visit, but likewise if you want to hang out with us that’s fine too. If anything it’ll help save Fred and Holly’s sanity.

You can bring musical instruments, beer, wine, food, paints and canvasses. In fact we’ll make our space fit your mood. Equally, we will keep the fuck away from you and piss off to the beach everyday. Whatever suits. There’ll be fresh bread and yummies during your stay as well as wonderful scenery and opportunities to explore this wonderful island.

Follow this link to begin your escape.

If you want to treat yourself to a romantical sailing experience you could do worse than look up Catch The Cat or for the more fishy minded of you there’s their sister company Mystic Amara III.  At Jolly Harbour Commercial Centre you can book diving trips with Indigo Divers as well as hire cars, buggies, bicycles or book day trips to many of the island’s attractions with one of the various wonderful companies operating from the commercial area. Don’t limit yourself to the beach, Antigua has so much more to offer. Why else would two die-hard northerners have moved here if was just about the beach?

The added bonus is you get to meet Holly and Fred, the author of this blog and many of the characters about whom I’ve written (even the bitch troll woman down the street who hates dogs and John).

 

Cheese Puffs, Pot Noodles and Sewn up Arseholes

hollyandfred

I’m sure the extreme academics out there who read this will be quick to correct my reference source on the following, fill your boots fellow pedants because I really do not mind being corrected*

As I once heard in a Dirty Harry Film, Clint Eastwood’s character ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan smouldered through gritted teeth, “Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one.” There are very few universal truths to which I subscribe but this is one of them. The others which I firmly, passionately and will fight you to death on is that cheese puffs, pot noodles and kebabs cure everything. Kebabs cure hangovers, its that disgusting unidentifiable mush of sheep’s bum holes and eyeballs blobbed together with vast amounts of grease that sees off even the worst morning after the night before alcohol shame. Cheese puffs and Pot Noodles are just empty calories of salt and enough additives to send an ADHD kid into the stratosphere but they are a comfort to which I return every time I need a reassuring dose of cuddle food.

So where do sewn up arseholes come into this? Lets get back to the “Opinions…” quote. Everybody does indeed have an arsehole and an opinion on something, but I genuinely believe that some people’s arseholes are sewn up tight with an invisible thread made out of bitterness, resentment and plain bloody nastiness.

This goes someway to explain why some people are so full of shit. They walk around with their vapid, vile opinions sewn into their very gut.

No I’m not going to go into a big political diatribe on the whole bizarre state of world politics right now – I prefer to do that face to face with people because when I speak to real people rather than watch mainstream media reports I feel a whole lot more reassured that there are a lot more kind hearted, kind minded and kind spirited people living amongst us than the Bid Bad Wolf News Mongers would have us believe.

Unfortunately sometimes face-to-face encounters are with the sewn up shit retainers of this world. One of these encounters was not my own, so this is a re-telling of an experience Mr. Trish had earlier this week.

The dogs and John were on their ritual morning wee-wee walk down to the end of our street (the dogs were having their wee-wees, not John, he’s fully housetrained and uses the toilet, even puts the seat down and everything. I know right? What a catch.) Now Mr. Trish is a very friendly chap, he’s the prime example of Geordie joviality and will stand and talk to anyone who wants to share time with him, stranger or friend. Stopping to share “morning morning” pleasantries with a woman he’d never met before, he was met with a pursed up lime sucking face and so much anal retention the smell was coming out of her mouth. She announced in her best Lady Bracknell** voice, “It’s against Antiguan law to have dogs in Jolly Harbour, do you live here? I don’t want you walking your dogs down past here again”

Wow! I mean, fucking WOW. No hellos, no how do you do, no kiss my arse or anything. She just torpedoed into announcing herself as the moral and legal arbiter for the whole of our little community. Technically there is a no dog rule in Jolly Harbour, but that’s hardly enforced. As long as your dogs don’t go around savaging people, shitting on golf carts or running away with your knickers off the washing line you’re fine. In fact at least six people in our immediate vicinity have dogs. John decided not to cause a diplomatic incident, smiled sweetly, told her yes we are home owners and we’ll be staying with our dogs thank you very much and wandered off with Holly and Fred, the dogs having shit and peed their load (which he poop scooped of course) he left the said angry women with a face like a smacked arse, came home to me and recounted the tale.

I was ready to march right down there and have it out with the bitch. John persuaded me this was probably not the right course of action because after all we’ve only lived here full time for six weeks. Instead we spoke to some of our other neighbours to see if they had a problem with us having dogs. The result? A resounding NO of course they don’t. Holly and Fred bring a smile to most people’s faces. I think this is because vacationers, and part time residents often have to leave their pets back at home and they love seeing and petting friendly happy dogs. It transpires that the particular sour faced person doesn’t like anyone or anything and is known for being a bit of a stuck up cow.

Holy shit! I don’t get it, Antigua might have it’s issues both socially and economically but hell’s teeth, as far as I can see, and its one of the reasons we moved here, people are friendly, accepting and share what they have. This extends to neighbourhoods and neighbours. Let me explain. This is a close-knit community, we live side by side and we all have to find a way to get on because we live in, quite frankly, a little piece of paradise. Whatever someone’s background is irrelevant because for whatever reason and however we’ve all chosen to spend time, money and invest emotionally in this little piece of rock stuck out in The Atlantic. Being confrontational isn’t just unhealthy for the soul, it doesn’t make logical sense because during hurricanes, floods or earthquakes the people you live next door to could quite literally one day save your life and you never know when you need to call on them. On a much smaller scale I compare this to a time I worked in a coffee shop; we had our fair share of moody bastard customers. I once had a customer throw his coffee at me and tell me to bring it back when it tasted of coffee (I didn’t know he liked a four shot espresso, not only because I was new and didn’t know his preference but he didn’t ask for a mad bastard rocket fuel dose of caffeine). Anyway, two lovely ladies looked on the unfolding mini-drama in horror as I was covered in coffee and asked if I was ok. I smiled sweetly and said I was fine, but I announced in a loud voice so that the coffee abuser could hear, “It’s fine, what people need to remember is that the person serving them their coffee could also GOB IN IT”.

I think we can all learn something from that, especially snot faced women who don’t live here full time. My dogs create copious amounts of shit, it’s got to go somewhere, and she might like to remember that.

 

 

* Despite what some people who know me might think.

**Watch ‘The Importance of Being Ernest’ the black and white version, you’ll thank me and if it leads you to the genius of Oscar Wilde and you become a disciple such as myself, welcome to the club.

“Can I Get That Dog?”

freddybooboo

 

We arrived on the beautiful island of Antigua on Tuesday. The whole process was pretty uneventful. The flight was smooth; I was of course sozzled before we left UK airspace. This was courtesy of two breakfast Bellinis; these are the same as normal Bellinis only they’re drunk before 9am with Eggs Benedict – Darling. John and I almost caused a mini-uprising in Upper Class by inviting some people we’d met before the flight up to the bar, but apparently that’s a Cardinal sin; people sitting in Premium aren’t allowed to taste the nectar from the Upper bar – which by the way, is exactly the same as the rest of the flight gets only we get left the entire bottle to plunder and not just a piddly little travel size bottle of plonk. It all tastes the same at altitude anyway, oh who the hell am I kidding, everything tastes the same after a bottle or two with the exception of anything aniseed which along with bananas is the Devil’s food.

I got through immigration and customs in a bit of a hung over blur. Hey ho, start the new life as I left the last one, with a bad head and a mouth like a badger’s arse. As a little aside, it has to be said that for some reason whether it’s the water, weather or warmth I don’t know, but the minute I step foot on Antiguan soil my Irritable Bowel Syndrome disappears. It doesn’t just loiter in the background and I forget about it because I feel intensely euphoric at seeing the sunshine and feeling the sand between my toes again, it completely and fully fucks off. I know that for a fact I leave my IBS on the tarmac and like a parasitic evil bastard it lays in wait for a likely candidate in which to host itself. That’s a   true story honest, it’s in colour on the Internet, and it must be true.

 I think John and I had widely differing expectations regarding how finished the house was going to be. John? I think he might have had a picture in his head of a fully functioning turnkey house with a few finishing touches needed. Me? I was expecting what we got which was a roof, working electricity, running water, lockable doors and windows with the added bonus of a bed, sofa and working toilets. Let’s just say I wasn’t pissed off too much, just tired and relieved to be home. John on the other hand had a face like the tropical storm that was passing over the island. So there’d been a few delays in getting the tiles laid which had a knock-on effect for everything else, but even in my jetlagged state I genuinely could not have given any less of a shit than if I’d eaten two pounds of cheese.

The first night in our new home passed eventfully. A lovely deep tropical wave passed over the house and dumped a whole load of rain into our water tank, yeh ok so we had a mini-epic flood in the bedroom but we dealt with it. My only focus in life at that moment was getting through the next twelve hours before we could go and collect the dogs from the airport after their flight. To say I’ve been a bag of nerves would be an understatement, it would be like calling Leonard Cohen slightly miserable – because I love my husband so much I bought him tickets to see the miserable git in Birmingham many years ago, it was three hours of my life I will never get back. After the THIRD FUCKING ENCORE I woke up and all that could be heard from the back of The Birmingham National Exhibition Centre was me yawning loudly, “OH NO, NOT THE FUCK AGAIN” as the doddery old wrist slitter started up with some more of his tunes. Ahhh memories. If anyone asks that age old dumb question, “But what exactly is love?” That’s always my answer, sitting through music you hate because you know your partner will appreciate it and to show their gratitude you know he’s going to go down on you just that little bit longer. Love is not unconditional; if you want that, get a puppy.

 So, where was I? Oh yes, the dogs, Holly and Fred. PetAir UK have been our UK brokers and I would recommend them to anyone needing to fly their fur-family members to strange and exotic places. The paperwork, blood tests and vaccinations were no hassle at all. Liaising with Dr Edwards in Antigua for their arrival was a dream. Sitting outside the cargo area of British Airways on Wednesday afternoon was never ending. The full force of the tropical storm hit the airport and I had no idea if the flight was even landing! My drama Queen self need not have panicked. Holly and Fred were offloaded, paperwork completed and Dr Edwards bid us good day and left us to the mercy of Customs. Oh my! I am not about to start screaming about how a country other than the UK conducts it’s customs. I appreciate fully I am a stranger in someone else’s country, I respect that absolutely, but we really were at the mercy of the customs guys as to how much they were going to charge us in import tax for the dogs. Dr Edwards had kindly vouched safe that he knew Fred and I from last year and these dogs were not commercial dogs at all so I think we got away lightly with charges, although no receipt was issued. I didn’t want to push our luck at all. One of the kindlier men from customs then asked me a question which left me speechless, yeh I know right? Me, speechless! I was asked, “Can I get this dog?”

The Custom’s guy pointed at Fred. In my naivety I assumed he wanted a dog LIKE Fred, but no he wanted Fred, my actual Freddy-Boo-Boo-Snush (don’t judge me).

I answered. “NO!”

This was returned with a look of shock because I’d said no. Right, I often go around just giving family members away to passing strangers, AND because I was going to spend all this fucking money and all the legal hassles of getting him from Antigua to the UK and vice versa just to give him away to someone just because they asked. Sigh

The Trish in the UK when faced with such stupidness would have said, “Yeh well, if you want a Fred get yourself to a rescue centre and get one because there are hundreds of abandoned dogs on the island and you want one like Fred? Well ALL dogs can look like Fred if you feed them well, vaccinate them, neuter them, give them a safe bed and love them.” Trish in Antigua isn’t bold enough right now, well not at that moment because I didn’t want to be screwed with even more import charges.

So the lesson we have learned this week? Don’t mind the rain, don’t expect unconditional love for Leonard Cohen, go re-home a rescue dog and always demand payment from partners in oral sex – in a consenting mutual respect kind of way.

Thank you and enjoy your day.