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West Indies v England One Day International Skeete's Bay and Orchids

10th March 2017

Shoe Washing on Crane Beach, Idyllic Foul Bay, Chat Up off Miami Beach and Dinner at Champers

A Shoe Washing Session on Crane Beach
    By mid-morning we were heading past the airport towards Six Roads, and turned off at Spencers in order to drive across to Crane Beach. The approach road was down a bumpy track which ended on a rocky edge with the sea washing below. To get around to the beach, the rocks had to be crossed. Fortunately a trail of round concrete stepping stones had been set into the rocks, enabling nimble folk to gain access to the small cove that is Crane Beach. A line of sun beds hugged a cliff wall, and a narrow stretch of sand was all that protected them from the crashing breakers.
    Crane Beach is one of Barbados' most outstanding beaches. Dramatic cliffs tower above the softest white "hint of pink" sand, abundant sub-tropical vegetation caps the cliffs, and a coral reef creates a natural harbour providing a safe swimming area. The name "Crane" originates from days long gone when a large crane used for loading and unloading the cargo from the ships in the harbour below was permanently situated at the top of the imposing cliffs.
    The Crane Resort is perched on top of the cliffs. The Crane Hotel at the core of the existing resort was originally called the Marine Villa Mansion. This property and accompanying land was purchased and developed in 1887 by civil engineer Donald Simpson, resulting in the first hotel resort in Barbados. The Crane Hotel's secluded location has always been ideal for celebrities wishing to escape publicity. One of its first visitors in the 1890s was renowned cowboy "Wild Bill" Hickock, who paid for his room with his gold chain, an artefact still owned by the Simpson family in Barbados. Since "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous", a US series that ran from 1984 to 1995, and looked at how much money Hollywood celebrities spent on homes, cars, and other luxuries, assigned Crane Beach as "one of the world's top ten best beaches", the tourism industry has continued to use this prestigious label when describing this Barbados location.
Crane Beach
    A kind Texan offered to take our photo. "Take at least five, please," I requested. On the third shot a wave rushed in up to our knees. So much for me keeping my footwear dry.
    We strolled along the surf in our sodden footwear. A few brave souls were tackling the surf, despite the red warning flag fluttering in the fresh breeze. An army of Bajans busied themselves with the endless task of raking the seaweed off the beach.
    At the far end of the beach I spotted a man made path cut into the cliff face, and I could not resist exploring it. Up I climbed and rounded the corner of the cliff where the path ended abruptly. The next cove was a jagged mass of cliffs and rocks with a cauldron of boiling foam slopping around below. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a crab scuttling across the path in front of me. What on earth was he doing up here so high above the waterline?
    It was too rough to swim here, so we retraced our steps and drove a short distance down to Foul Bay. The turn off for this beach was not easy to spot, but eagle-eyed Rex picked out the sign among the flaking paint on a rickety sign-post. We slowly bounced down a track, and were confronted by a staggering vista when we turned the final corner at the bottom.
Foul Bay      (please use scroll bar)

    This small beach, hemmed in on three sides by cliffs, was a jewel, a truly idyllic setting. Casuarina and palm trees offer shady spots along the picturesque white sandy beach. The cove is totally unspoilt with no buildings of any form, just a few fishing boats hauled up under the trees. For this reason, the beach is quite secluded. Again, the surf here was bone shattering. We observed a chap crab his way down the steeply inclined beach into the surf. He was a large fellow, but the sea eventually won and took his feet from under him, and he was left floundering on his hands and knees, fresh waves slapping his backside as he crawled back up the beach.
Foul Bay Close Up
    None of us were tempted to swim here, so we departed from this gem, and headed across the south of the island to Miami Beach, just south of Oistins. Here, breakers were rolling in, but it was possible to break through them and swim out to where they were just part of the swell. We hired the usual beach paraphernalia, and spent the rest of the day swimming and chilling out.
    Rex tried his Canute impression on the waves, but the sea just laughed and flattened him three times. A deflated Rex argued that he was playing away from home.
    Just beyond the obligatory yellow life-guard tower lay a smaller bay. Oistins' pier stretched out into the sea just beyond this bay, and a number of fishing boats danced about at anchor. In the background, the cranes at the Sandals hotel development and Dover Beach marked the horizon.
Miami Beach      (please use scroll bar)

    I took a swim in this smaller bay, the surf here being noticeably much less than on Miami Beach. I swam right out, and crossed paths with a lady. "I've only seen one turtle today," she shouted across, "there were a few on Wednesday." The woman hailed from Ottawa, and was escaping the -11 deg. C big freeze. "I'm staying at a small guest house nearby," she told me. "Barbados seems safe, but I don't like venturing out on my own here after dark, mind you I don't do that at home either. I'm small, so I couldn't put up much of a fight, but I could run fast at one time. There was another lady on her own staying in the guest house, and we used to eat out together, but she has recently returned home. Two German women have moved in now, but I don't think they would want to speak in English all the time," she explained.
    So there I was, treading water with perhaps 10m of water below me, wondering whether this woman was dropping a hint. Ah, but Rex, Meryl and I were already committed for this evening. My mind flashed back to 2011, when my son Dan and I were spending a few days in Marrakech. One evening a lady staying in the same hotel as us asked if I minded her joining us for an evening meal. Roby, from Perth, Australia, was also on her own, and she definitely did not want to wander in the city on her own in the evening. I would agree with that sentiment. So she joined us for evening meals on two occasions.
    My mind was snapped back to the now by the Canadian lady saying she was heading back to shore. We wished each other the usual farewells and best holiday wishes, and swam off in different directions.
    At the end of the afternoon, I walked across to the facilities block where a standpipe stood outside. A Bajan woman stood beside it, she was the attendant for the block. "Do you mind if I wash my feet at your tap?" I asked.
    "Good Lord, you have really enjoyed yourself today, man," she laughed out loud, grinning from ear to ear. "You gotta lotta sand in your hair," she giggled.
    "But I have no hair," I laughed back at her.
    She now had an audience, and carried on, "Sand in your hair," and then I noticed her pointing to her ears.
    "Oh, sand in my ears," I echoed.
    "Yeah, that's what I said," she laughed hysterically. Her audience was rolling in laughter too. Soon I was washing my ears out as well as my feet and trainers under the tap.
    An elderly German woman standing nearby muttered, "Schmutzig," the German word for "dirty". I'll never know whether she was referring to me, the water or the facilities. I thanked the Bajan attendant and left a cleaner man.
    We visited a cracking restaurant in the evening called Champers, located a short way past St. Lawrence Gap. It sits on top of a rocky promontory, with waves washing and caressing the rocks below. This was definitely an up market restaurant. The atmosphere was alive and vibrant, a place where one could share a romantic evening at the water's edge. Hmm... was I the spare gooseberry intruding on Rex and Meryl's romantic night out. We had been through such discussions before, and it would be pointless raising the matter again, so I pushed the thought out of my mind.
    The service was spot on, and the food to die for. I had lobster risotto to start with, followed by seared Mahi tuna and ginger salad, washed down with a rum punch. The meal was stunning to look at, and absolutely delicious, full of clean flavours. I thoroughly recommend Champers to anyone visiting the island.
    The journey back to Maxwell in a minibus was a hoot, again 22 souls crammed into a space designed for 15. Meryl was perched on Rex's sunburnt legs, while I stood all the way, leaning on a young Bajan's shoulder. Some young female tourists sat po-faced towards the back, obviously not used to this sort of travel, and a group of American lads, who had only just arrived on the island, excitably chatted away. No doubt they were all heading down to the Oistins Fish Fry.

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West Indies v England One Day International Skeete's Bay and Orchids
Last updated 14.5.2017