Antigua – Beaches, Boats and Bars


Antigua is said to have 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. Although we did visit a number of beaches, we didn’t try to visit all of them. Our visits tended to be towards the later end of the days and deliberately so. Antigua is a popular stop for cruise liners and there is  a never-ending supply of tour companies willing to ferry cruise passengers to the beaches.

Typically the liners only stop for one day so the passengers only have limited time available to them and since they have to be back on board around four in the afternoon, most of  the beaches generally start to empty by three as the tour guides head back to St Johns.

Jolly Beach is a prime example. As you can see, the beach is jammed solid with tourists, not.

Antigua - Jolly Beach

Antigua – Jolly Beach

On Jolly Beach,as on most Antiguan beaches, you will find the ubiquitous bar/restaurant. In this case it is called Castaways and here we availed ourselves of some well chilled Wadadli beers and a spot of lunch.

Darkwood Beach

Darkwood Beach

Antigua’s beaches are a superb basis for observing sunsets. Darkwood Beach is especially good for this, especially when one can imbibe an ice cool rum punch or partake of a tasty Goat Curry or perhaps the tenderest Jerk Pork Chop.

Antigua - Sunset from Darkwood Beach

Antigua – Sunset from Darkwood Beach

Don’t forget that Rum Punch, Mango Daquiri or perhaps a bog standard G & T, while watching the daily sunset.

Antigua - Coco Beach

Antigua – Coco Beach

The view from Shirley Heights is simply stunning, in all directions.

Antigua - View across Mamora Bay & St James Bay

Antigua – View across Mamora Bay & St James Bay

Antigua - English Harbour & Nelsons Dockyard

Antigua – English Harbour & Nelsons Dockyard

Another quiet beach is West Coast Valley Church Beach, home to The Nest Beach Bar. Again, this is a great place to watch the sun set.

Antigua - West Coast Valley Church Beach

Antigua – West Coast Valley Church Beach

Perhaps I was wrong to call this beach quiet. It was nearly totally devoid of people. However, the folks in The Nest were playing some music, very loud. But that was alright as it was a recording of a reggae based concert which featured a guest appearance by guitarist Carlos Santana.

One word, Superb.

By now, viewing these photographs you must be getting the idea that Antiqua is an awful place to visit. And I will admit that the four of us did mention, regularly, just what a chore it was spending two weeks there.

The bad news is that, during our stay, we failed to observe a truly orange sunset. Which of course means that we may well be forced to go back again and try to capture that classic shot.

Moving briefly away from the beaches, we took a trip down to English Harbour and Nelsons Dockyard. So here are a few more views which include boats

Perhaps most interesting is the  small boat that isn’t in the water.

Antigua - The craft that James "Tiny" Little rowed across the Atlantic

Antigua – The craft that James “Tiny” Little rowed across the Atlantic

James began his journey on 21st January, 2005 from San Sebastian de la Gomera in the Canary Islands and travelled 3,479 to Antigua. His epic journey took 116 days and he arrived on Antigua 17th May, 2005.

The following shows his daily routine which, if my arithmetic is right, means he was rowing for over twelve hours every day.

Antigua - James Littles rowing schedule

Antigua – James Littles rowing schedule

That’s no mean feat especially when he didn’t allow time for a beer. Just reading about it has given me a raging thirst, so here’s a bottle of the local brew.

Wadadli - Antiguan Sunshine In A Bottle

Wadadli – Antiguan Sunshine In A Bottle

And just for good measure, before I sign out, here are a few more snaps from around Antigua’s shores…..

 

Antigua – Bettys Hope


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Antigua – Betty’s Hope Plantation

From Wikipedia:

Betty’s Hope was a sugarcane plantation in Antigua. It was established in 1650, shortly after the island had become an English colony, and flourished as a successful agricultural industrial enterprise during the centuries of slavery. It was the first large-scale sugar plantation to operate in Antigua and belonged to the Codrington family from 1674 until 1944. Christopher Codrington, later Captain General of the Leeward Islands, acquired the property in 1674 and named it Betty’s Hope, after his daughter.

Just a few of the photographs taken during our visit to this site.

 

Antigua – Devils Bridge


From Wikipedia:

Devil’s Bridge is a natural rock arch in eastern Antigua. It is located on the Atlantic coast at 17°6′1.7″N 61°40′42.2″W,[1] near Indian Town Point to the east of Willikies. The area around the arch features several natural blowholes which shoot up water and spray powered by waves from the Atlantic Ocean. This particular location is exposed to waves that are pushed by the Trade Winds with no land between here and Europe. .

Here are a few snaps I took around the Devils Bridge area…..

 

What the pictures don’t convey is the constant wind blowing in off the Atlantic and the booming of the waves as they collide with rocks and rush under the “bridge”. And this was a relatively calm day.
Devils Bridge, according to local folklore, has a darker side. This is a quote from 104 year old Antiguan, Sammy Smith, from his memoirs “To Shoot Hard Labour”

Crookhorn Post Office


Fuming !!!

Have just been to Crookhorn Post Office to post a parcel.

Stood in the queue for only a minute, was two from the counter. The cashier completed serving the lady at the counter and announced that she was going to have to stop serving as there was a task she had to complete by 12:00.

The time, on the Post Office clock was 11:55

The lady in front of me explained that she only had two parcels. This cut no ice with the cashier who just confirmed that she couldn’t take the parcels. I received the same response when I challenged her.

The lady with the two small parcels left, muttering “Unbelievable”, as did I with my single parcel. I was muttering something much stronger.

I took myself off to Waterlooville Post Office where, I had been informed, they were open until 12:30.

I paid the £0.70 for parking and arrived at the doors of the post office to be confronted with a queue snaking its way to 3 cashiers. I joined the queue and waited a few minutes with no movement. I heard someone announce that the post office would close in 20 minutes. I estimated it would take at least 40 minutes, based on the number of folks in the queue, for me to get to the counter. Assuming that each cashier would take a minimum of two minutes per customer. Needless to say, I wasn’t prepared to wait another twenty minutes and then be told they were closing, so I took myself home

Apparently the Crookhorn Post Office is open until 12:30 ????

The following screenshot is taken from this web page The situation is worse when you look at the Post Offices own website which claims the post office is open until 22:00.

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In my opinion, if the Post Office publishes opening hours through to 12:00 then they should continue to offer that service right to the wire. If there is a reason why they cannot honour the published hours then please amend the opening times accordingly.

Come on Post Office – Get your act together.

 

 

Four Go To Antigua


Tuesday morning found us, in Waterloville, up at the ungodly hour of 05:30. Preparing for the taxi that was due to pick us up within the hour. The temperature outside, according to the app on my phone,  was -4 degC. This was a small price to pay as we were on our way to Antigua where, all the weather sites told us, the temperatures were going to be around 30 degC.

The taxi duly arrived, carrying the friends that were to accompany us on our latest adventure. We, and our luggage, were soon loaded to the taxi and we were on our way to Gatwick, South Terminal. A bite to eat for breakfast, some retail therapy and we were soon sitting aboard one of Sir Richards finest, a glass of prosecco in hand, waiting for the off. We were soon wheels up and on our way. I have to say that crossing the atlantic is a lot easier than flying down to Oz

After an uneventful flight we arrived in Antigua and what a shock the temperature difference was. As soon as we exited the plane into the jetway all of the thirty plus degrees made their presence felt. So far so good. All we had to do was navigate our way through customs and immigration and then find our taxi for the journey to the villa.

Let me say right now, the Antiguan immigration process is not the slickest. One does wonder in this technological age why it is necessary to provide all the same information multiple times at both ends of a journey. We spent 30-40 minutes in a mind numbingly boring serpentine queue, then out through customs to locate our driver.

Of course we arrived just as the home-time traffic was building, so our journey to the villa was quite slow. It gave us time to absorb our new surroundings and for our driver to impart some local information. It soon became obvious that the driving rules here are very different from the UK. Road position and actions at road junctions are not as disciplined as back home. There is also much tooting of horns which seems to be a weird kind of communication. Our driver seemed to sound his horn at the most random of times.

We safely arrived at the villa where we noted that the hire car had already been delivered. Shortly after we had unloaded the taxi and taken up residence Iris, the car hire rep, arrived to complete the paper work. Visitors to Antigua have to have an Antiguan Drivers License. No test required but does require some form filling and the handing over of some cash.

A quick trip to the supermarket and we were formally on holiday.

More to follow in the coming two weeks.

A Day On The Isle Of Wight


A couple of weeks ago it was decided that we, and our Ozzy rellies, would take a trip across to the Isle of Wight. The most flexible way is to take your own car across on the ferry, rather than rely on public transport on either side of the Solent.

Travelling into Pompey around morning peak traffic times is always a bit like a toss of the dice. Albeit late, we eventually made it to the Wightlink ferry port. Luckily, for us, our ferry was late arriving. Apparently this was due to the low tide meaning the ferry had to take a slightly longer route across the Solent. Once loaded aboard, we made our way up to the lounge, where we had hot chocolate and toasties for breakfast. I also took the opportunity for a couple of snaps.

The following pictures show the scene around the ferry.

In the background, above the fishing boats, you can see Viviers Fish Market. They are the suppliers of some truly scrumptious fresh fish. Proof is, as they say, in the tasting and we have recently had some superb Halibut, a couple of Bream and a couple of dressed crab.

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Land Rover BAR Team home

The bland looking building is the Land Rover BAR building.  Having now seen it several times, I’m still not sure about the design. It looks like they are waiting for the wrapping to be fully removed, to expose its true shape.

The ferry was soon underway and after a short voyage, arrived at Fishbourne. We disembarked and made our way to our first destination, Osborne House.

Osborne House is a former royal residence, built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as a summer home and retreat. Now under the care of English Heritage, both the house and grounds are made available to the public. A few pictures are posted below.

Unfortunately, due to filming of a new drama about Victoria and her indian servant, the fabulous Durbar Room was not available for viewing. In addition, photography was prohibited in other rooms as they were dressed for filming. Apparently, any images would be copyright, because the film company had installed some of their own furniture.

After touring the house, we had a pleasant lunch in the Terrace Restaurant and Orangery. Suitably refueled we headed down to the Swiss Cottage

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Set For High Tea – Swiss Cottage, Osborne House

and on to the sea-shore via the Rhododendron Walk, dotted along which there are a variety of carved animals and birds.

Queen Victoria had her own “Bathing Machine” in which she would get changed. The “machine” would be run into the sea and she would descend the steps into the bracing waters of the Solent. Also on the beach at Osborne is a decorated “alcove” which during our visit gave shelter from the brisk breeze blowing in off the sea.

Returning to the house we spent some time, and of course money, in the gift shop.

From Osborne House we headed off to view  The Needles, a row of three distinctive stacks of chalk that rise out of the sea off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight. They are also home to The Needles Lighthouse built on the western most stack.

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The Needles – Isle of Wight

An unusual sight was this, apparently tame, fox being enticed to feed.

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Tame Fox ? – Isle of Wight

Not sure about the fashion statement this guy is making.

It was soon time for us to think about a spot of dinner before travelling back to the mainland. We had already decided to head to a regular haunt of ours, The Folly Inn.

The Folly is a rustic pub perched on the banks of the River Medina, just up the river from Cowes in Whippingham. They serve good food, good beer, are friendly and provide a great location to chill and watch the yachty world go by.

 

Suitably replete, we headed back to Fishbourne for our ferry ride back to Portsmouth. With the autumnal evenings drawing in we were welcomed back to harbour by the Spinnaker Tower.

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Spinnaker Tower – Portsmouth

Driving out of Pompey was a lot easier than our rush hour entry. We were soon home and relaxing with a nice cup of tea.