The Cliff Restaurant, Barbados, acrylic on canvas, 420mmx300mm
Commissioned by Matt who likes to spend his hard earned bonus and overtime gently sipping Banks beer on the terrace here while putting the world to rights on his beloved Aston Villa who are after all the best team in the whole world ever – he told me to say that I have not the first clue of what he speaks of – they’re a football team right ?
Actually it doesn’t quite look like this now as I took the photo with a bit more work left on it, the sea close to the shore is greener now, emerald green as it is in real life – that was the one thing that struck me the very first time I went to Barbados when I stepped off the courtesy bus that the hotel ran to their private beach – it really does look exactly like it looks in the brochures.
Our hotel’s beach was Sugar Reef in Hastings, well named as the sand really did resemble fine white castor sugar, the sea was crystal clear and a bright emerald green close to shore while 100 yards out the surf broke harmlessly over the top of the coral reef that gave the beach its name. The whole island is a coral island, drill deep enough below its surface and you find fresh water soaked into the rock like a sponge, trickle sand through your fingers and you find that its not fragments of stone at all but tiny pieces of coral, and all of the land along the edges of the island, these long white coral beaches, were useless and unwanted when the island was a colony in the days before tourism.
“Air like champagne” is how my host described the atmospheric conditions in the period January to April, the best time to visit the island, I never quite understood what he meant unless he thought the air was sweet and sickly and gave him a headache the next morning but its certainly true that this time of year is the best time to go and cruelly the worst time is the traditional British summer holiday period of July and August when its so humid that you can barely breath, and it rains every afternoon.
I went five times from ’95 to ’98 and never paid a penny other than the $20 taxi fare too and from the airport, the hotel was all inclusive and I was dined and beered every day for nowt, nirvana for a Yorkshireman, on the last three occasions that I went I actually only took $40 with me for the taxi, you just don’t know how free it makes you feel when you arrive in another country with only £20 to your name.
But it meant that, unlike Matt I never got to know any of the restaurants other than the ones in my hotel, and other than The Ship Inn in St Lawrence Gap where we had an “end of tour” party every time – its the only time I’ve ever been so drunk that I couldn’t find the exit door to go home, so I stayed for another beer, its as good an excuse as any.