Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Rain on Sea Rocks

At last we have had some rain on Sea Rocks - if only a little.

Anguilla's water catchment tanks are running dry all over the island and so, every little bit helps.

As you can see, the reef opposite the house was not happy at all and the rain was very heavy. If only it had continued for longer than the few minutes it has taken to photograph and log it for this blogsite. Shame....

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

A Promethean Event

At a lively and informative handing-over ceremony on Monday 27 August, His Excellency the Governor, Mr Andrew George, presented two Promethean interactive whiteboards to the Honourable Minister of Education, Mr Evans McNeil Rogers, for use in schools on Anguilla.

The whiteboards are accessed via a computer and offer fully interactive functions to both the class teacher and the individual pupils. They are part of a project, directed by Mrs Dawn Reid, funded jointly by the Overseas Programme Fund of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Government of Anguilla. The project, which provides four whiteboards, will enable teachers to offer interactive teaching to a generation brought up on the fast movement and bright colours of computers. As such, it will offer a chance to reach out to children who are unresponsive to traditional, black and white on paper, teaching methods and motivate both teachers and students.

Commenting on the ‘innovative and forward-looking project’ Governor George stated that the US$12,000 which the British Government had invested was an ‘important contribution’ in aiding the Department of Education ‘to keep up with latest developments’ in both technology and education.

Promethean, a company which originated in the United Kingdom, was represented by Dr Mary Markowski, who addressed the invited guests, and Mr Manley Wisdom, an Educator, who demonstrated what the interactive whiteboards could do. This involved a presentation that delighted the guests bringing much humour and startled gasps as the versatility of the technology was revealed. It was evident from the brief overview Mr Manley provided, part of a two day Promethean Professional Development Workshop to train the trainers on Anguilla, that the whiteboards will revolutionise teaching and revitalise apathetic students.

Mr Rogers, in accepting the Governor’s gift, stated that he wanted ‘every school and classroom in Anguilla to be exposed to this technology’ which he stated ‘encourages children to learn.’ He promised that this would be just the beginning and he would be approaching the Governor ‘to meet him half-way’ once again to help bring more of these whiteboards to the island.

The photograph shows the Governor presenting the interactive children’s handsets, through which students are able to access the whiteboard, to the Minister of Education. The whiteboard itself is in the background.

Promethean can be contacted on the following links:

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Nectar on a Plate!

We dined at the delectable Veya on Friday. Nestled half way up the hill on the road from Sandy Ground, this is a charming, elegant fine dining restaurant.

On Friday evenings the restaurant serves a Thai menu alongside its a la carte menu and Joe and I had been saying for weeks that we should go along to try it. Bangkokg was a rest and recreation destination when we lived in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and we were frequent visitors. We love Thai food and so wanted to try out Veya's.

Now we are kicking ourselves for having left it so long before sampling this menu!

It was well presented, delighting the eye and tempting the palate long before our taste buds were excited. The flavour combinations did not overpower the food and you could taste the individual ingredients in each dish. The choice of each course was imaginative, allowing guests to enjoy a shrimp and vegetable pancake with peanut dipping sauce as a starter, a curried chicken portion with coconut rice and mixed vegetables for entree and a cardomon creme brulee with pineapple for dessert. These all combined seductively to make this meal one of the best we have had in a long time.

We have friends coming to stay next week and have already booked a table during their time with us. We hope they will enjoy what this restaurant has to offer as much we do.

Veya's website is:

Thursday, 23 August 2007

A Cure for Islanditus!

I spent today on Anguilla's neighbouring island, St Martin.

Sheryl and I took the early ferry, which takes about twenty minutes, to Marigot on the French side of the island. I should explain that the island is split between the French and the Dutch and each side has its own distinct character.

Marigot is a very French capital. You could be in any seaside town in France when you visit this pretty town. There are pavement cafes from which you can people watch and a colourful street market most days. It is a good place for breakfast - pain au chocolat or croissant and good coffee is de rigueur.

Philipsburg is the capital of the Dutch side. It is more commercial than the French side, with a huge ferry terminal and hundreds of duty free shops which line the streets in the vicinity of the liners that arrive with great regularity.

We arrived in Marigot and hired a car. This was a bit of a palava. Many of the ferryside car hire companies will gladly hire you a car and when you take delivery of it you find that there is little gas to actually make it move. Hire company employees just smile and shrug their shouldars, taking no responsibility at all and leaving you to limp to the nearest station. If it happens to be closed, you end up pushing.

Consequently, the hire companies I use regularly know that I will not take the car if there is no gas in the tank. This morning this meant that we had to wait for twenty minutes while a car with something in the tank was found. We had enough to take us out of Marigot to a station just beyond, which is where we made for.

After putting $10 in the tank, which we thought would be enough for the little bit of running about we wanted to do, we set off for Simpson Bay and the excellent Scuba Shop there. Readers of this blog will remember that a little while ago I purchased a new BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) and was getting used to it. I was, and still am, very pleased with the investment but the air pipe is too short. The Scuba Shop had agreed to look at it and so we made this our first port of call. As we arrived we found that the car had a flat front tyre.

Kim, the boss, and Mariska, one of her excellent staff, were their usual helpful selves and we called the hire company from their office. We were reassured that within twenty minutes we would have someone with us and we carried on with our business. I soon had an air hose that was a full four inches or so longer than before and Sheryl had been fitted for a much needed new dive mask. We spent at least half an hour in the shop and yes, you guessed it, no hire company had turned up when we left. We were marooned.

It took the company two hours to get to us. You can imagine how we felt by that time! To give them their due, the chap who arrived to sort out the problem did his best to change the wheel as quickly as he could. However, the spare in the boot of the car was flat and bald, so it was just as well he had another wheel in his van, and when he tried to unbolt the wheel on the car to change it, one of the bolts just snapped off. We were not impressed.

We were finally on our way again after a fair bit of stress. We went for a well earned lunch in the waterside Skip Jacks restaurant, where we cooled off a bit. If you find yourself in Simpson Bay you cannot do better than pop into Skip Jacks for a fish lunch. Wonderful!

The rest of the day went well I am pleased to say. We shopped and Sheryl managed to pick up new cutlery at a price that did not make her gulp.

We ended up on the beach at Grand Case. This is nothing compared to any of Anguilla's beaches but is pleasant enough and makes a nice spot to stop for a cold drink and a short chill on a hot day.

We arrived back on Anguilla loaded with boxes and, of course, had to run the gauntlet of the customs man, who today was Justin. He and I know each other but that did not stop him from performing his duty. Both Sheryl and I had bills to pay! C'est la vie!

Monday, 20 August 2007

Amateur Theatre

I miss the fun and camaraderie of amateur dramatics.

Over the years Joe and I have enjoyed working on many shows.

‘Aladdin and the 7 Thieves’ was the show where the writer had never written before, the director had never directed, the sound and lighting crew were new and the show was five days away from opening when I was asked to help out. Now that was fun! This was a production of the British School of Brussels’ Pantaloons Group. A group of eager, if mad – the accent was firmly on the ‘loons’ in their name - enthusiasts who raised huge amounts of money with their annual, sell out Pantomimes. I took over as Stage Manager and the show went on after several very long evening rehearsals and much crash training to bring it all together.

Joe was able to perfect his famous technique for making rubber chickens fly whilst working on ‘The Princess and the Pea’.

Whilst in Brussels, apart from the pantomimes, I was asked to train a stage manager for the Brussels Shakespeare Society’s production of ‘The Merchant of Venice’. This was a lovely production in which we managed safely to bring live flame on stage without burning the auditorium down!

Whilst we lived in Dhaka, Bangladesh, we joined the only English language theatre group in the country, Dhaka Stage. This opened up many horizons for us. It was a never ending source of amazement to me that there were so many talented people in the city. We had everything from a professional Tenor to a real film actor and all came forward to work on Dhaka Stage’s charity fund raising productions.

It was in Dhaka that Joe went on the stage for the first time. He was a Roman Senator in ‘Fore Plays’ and a Victorian Policeman in ‘A Christmas Carol’ and did very well. We were very lucky in that we had a wealth of very good - and very cheap - tailors in the city, able to make excellent costumes for very moderate prices. Our shows always looked very good, both in terms of costumes and also in terms of set design, for which we were able to bring very talented people in from local schools.

Towards the end of our time in Dhaka the group was asked to put on a show for the Bangladeshi Foreign Office Wives Association at the Sonagaon Hotel in central Dhaka. This was then the only really five star hotel in the country. We put on ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ in their dining room to an audience of over 400 guests and later took it to a less exulted public for a fund raising run. This led to the hotel management itself approaching the group for a fund raiser of its own and, just before Christmas 2004, we staged ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the same venue. We raised money towards a floating hospital which, in a country that is only 25 feet above sea level at its highest point, was a necessity to reach often remote and far-flung villages.

Now we live on the lovely island of Anguilla. There is some amateur dramatic work in the schools and a group for young people. When I made a tentative approach to one of the groups early on in our time here, I was invited to a meeting of the group but the leader would not give me his address. “Ask anyone,” he said, “and they will tell you where I live.” I asked, got puzzled frowns and that was that.

Amateur theatre is fun but very demanding. As a director it is particularly hard work but the rewards at the end, when the show goes on, are well worth it. Joe and I will return to it when we get the opportunity once again.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

First Aid on Anguilla

Yesterday was a very interesting day.

A friend of mine, Sheryl, and I took the St John Ambulance of Canada Emergency First Aid with Adult CPR Course.

In an intense day of learning we trained in the core competences of Emergency Scene Management, how to administer first aid to people who are in shock, unconscious, choking, bleeding or having cardiovascular emergencies. We learnt about medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and allergies, together with wound care and first aid for burns.

The course was hands on from the first and, after watching an instructional film for each section of the course, we were invited to try out the techniques we had been shown. This was both useful and fun – Sheryl and I know each other very well now after checking each other for injuries from head to toe and practising our bandaging techniques on each other!

Our course instructor, Peter Quinn, a veteran of the Fort McMurray Fire Service in Canada, where he was an Emergency Medical Technician, has been teaching for St John Ambulance of Canada for fifteen years. He was both knowledgeable and patient while leading us through the course and professional when he administered the course examination at the end of the day.

By this time we were both exhausted!
When we passed we were very pleased to say the least! It was a lot to assimilate in a single day, but the sense of achievement was worth the effort. We are now both qualified to render Emergency First Aid for the next three years and CPR for the next year.

The photograph shows Sheryl after I had put her in the Recovery Position. I think she was quite pleased to be resting after the long day!

Peter Quinn can be reached on

Quiet Anguilla

Hurricane Dean came, blew a very little and then left.

The photograph shows the reef in front of our house at 07.00 yesterday morning. As you can see, it is back to its usual quiet self. Anguilla has been very lucky.

Friday, 17 August 2007

The Hurricane has Arrived

It is almost noon and the storm has reached us.

So far we have had some rain and wind, with one short power cut this morning. As you can see from the photograph, there is increased activity on the reef in front of our house. This is usually very tranquil but not today!
I will keep you posted.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Hurricane Dean

Here on Anguilla we have been watching the progress of Tropical Storm Dean as it worked its way towards the Leeward Islands.

Over the past few days we have watched the forecasts and have been preparing to batten down the hatches as it was at first thought that we were directly in its path. Yesterday though, the storm veered slightly and is now on its way towards Jamaica, via Antigua. Its intensity has increased and it is now officially a hurricane.

Tomorrow morning at about 8am the storm should hit land. As we are the northern most island in the Leeward chain, we will be lucky. We are on Tropical Storm Warning rather than Hurricane Alert. The forecasts predict we will have about a 40% chance of winds of more than 39 miles per hour hitting us. Those on Hurricane Alert will face winds of more than 73 miles per hour.

The American National Hurricane Centre site offers excellent information on this storm for those of you interested in keeping up with it:

At present there is a little breeze ruffling the trees and bushes in my garden, which is quite refreshing, but it is 91°F and the clouds are starting to gather.

I will keep you posted as to how we get on….

Monday, 13 August 2007

As the Summer Festival came to its end last night my husband, Joe, and I joined hundreds of others on the beach at Sandy Ground to eat, drink, chill and watch the boats come in from the last boat race.

UFO was victorious this time. She and her several rivals were brought home just as the sun set on a successful Festival.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

The Parade of Troupes

On Friday 10th August it was the Summer Festival’s Parade of Troupes. This is the big daytime event of the Carnival and involves all ages from tinies upwards in a riot of fun, colour, music and pageantry.

Many of the Troupes on parade had community messages such as Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder from the 7 Elements of Beauty group who energetically showed that beauty can be different things to different people and Peace on Anguilla from the venerable ladies and gentlemen of the Back to Basics group.

Music was provided by many of the island’s bands at mega decibel levels and the street literally shook to the reverberations of the beat as the trucks holding the bands thundered past the large crowds of spectators lining The Valley’s streets. Indeed the turnout was very good, with the Governor and his wife, some of the migrant Indian workers from the local big hotel projects, tourists of many nationalities and local Anguillians all thronging the route the Parade followed.

With the Festival coming to a close for another year, there is a new Miss Anguilla, Miss Kafi Gumbs, Dynamite is the 2007 Calypso Monarch, Miguel Franklin and K’nyshau Cameron are the new Mr and Miss CCB Talented Teens 2007 and some of these graced the Parade with their presence.

In all, the 2007 Parade of Troupes was a huge success and reflected the immense amount of work, dedicated practice and sheer imagination that goes into organising a Troupe. It was joy to attend.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

The Island Harbour Boat Race!

On Tuesday 7 August it was once again Race Day on Anguilla as the Summer Festival continues.

This time our village, Island Harbour, hosted the race. In a closely fought battle the swift Eagle flew ahead of the mighty UFO.

The day was grey and overcast which meant that the wind was brisk and the temperatures lower than usual. All of this was good news for the competing teams aboard the boats.

The photograph shows the eventual winner, Eagle.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Anguilla's Summer Festival

It is Carnival time here on Anguilla.

There will be lots of fun and frolics for all ages with the culminations of various contests including the crowning of the Calypso Monarch and the highly prestigious, Miss Anguilla. At the end of the week there will be the fabulous Parade of Troupes and I will be there with my camera to bring readers a selection of shots to showcase the fun people have during Carnival and to highlight the amount of work undertaken to make it ‘all right on the night.’

The island is buzzing with high occupancy rates in the hotels and guesthouses as tourists and the Anguillian diaspora pour in to Anguilla. Extra ferries have been laid on to bring people over from St Martin, our neighbouring island five miles away with a big international airport.

The Opening Ceremony on 2 August was graced by the Minister of Finance, the Acting Chief Minister, Victor Banks and there were speeches by several members of the Government.

On Saturday 4 August there was the Children’s Parade. It was a shame that the public turnout was so low for this event. Looking at the photographs on the Anguilla News website ,
it is obvious that a huge amount of work has gone into the costumes and the children had much fun parading through The Valley.

August Monday yesterday dawned bright and fair but soon became grey, overcast and wet. Nevertheless the August Monday Boat Race went ahead as scheduled from a packed Sandy Ground beach. ‘Miss Anguilla’ eventually triumphed over ‘UFO’ in a closely fought ending. The Beach Party celebration afterwards went on into the night.

The Festival this year is proving to be a lot of fun. There is much more to come but the next events will be the subject of further posts!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Penny - The Eternal Student!

It is the first of August! I cannot believe that this year is going by so swiftly.

Soon it will be examination time.

You see, I am an eternal student. I left school when I was eighteen with adequate qualifications and got married instead of going to university. Whilst I have never regretted the decision to marry so young (we are still together and coming up to a BIG anniversary), I do regret not having gone on to university.

So, I have studied whenever and wherever I have been able to. This has led to some interesting courses and fun times!

When in England I went to night school and took as many word processing courses as I could. The result of that was that I could now use the new tool that was rapidly overtaking the old fashioned typewriter; the computer. I fell in love with it at once! No more having to worry about correcting fluid if you made a mistake and if you felt like sending a paragraph from the middle to the top of the page, just for the sheer fun of it, you could. Of course, as a writer, being able to use a computer has been invaluable.

To boost my confidence I signed up for an Assertive Class. This was great fun. The course coincided with the ‘Saga of the New Loo’. I was able to put into practise all the assertiveness techniques that I had learnt – not loosing my temper, learning to say ‘No’ etc. To tell the saga (abridged version), it went like this: Once upon a time, Penny and her husband Joe, decided that the time had come to have a new toilet installed in their apartment. Penny’s mother told her about a friend whose husband was a plumber and was looking for work. Feeling philanthropic, we asked this gentleman to come along and install the new loo. He came, he bodged and he left. The first inkling that something was wrong was when we opened the toilet door and fell over the new ‘step’ he had installed to raise the level of the toilet floor up, as he did not know how to attach the new chinaware to the old fittings as there was a gap. The step solved his problem. We knew for certain that something was wrong at about midnight when the water pressure on the ill-fitted pipe work gave way and we had a flood throughout our entire home. The water stop-cock was in the communal loft which we did not have access to. When we called the ‘plumber’ we reached an answer phone and it took every ounce of assertiveness training to politely request him to come to fix the mess. Needless to say when he finally appeared he fixed his bodge job and scuttled away.

After that came National Vocational Qualifications or NVQ’s for short. These qualifications are designed to fit people for employment and are available in a huge range of subjects at different levels from complete beginner to university graduate. My employer at the time was very concerned that employees should be as well educated as possible and I took full advantage. Administration, Customer Service and Computing courses gave me a taste of studying at a higher level and I was hooked.

Next the logical step was the Open University. To say that I love this fantastic educational institution is an understatement. I think it is the most wonderful invention of modern times. For those who do not know what I am talking about, let me explain. The Open University is Britain’s Leading Distance Learning University. Its campus is in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, just north of London and it offers a range of fully accredited University Certificate, Diploma, Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses to its students, who are spread out over the length and breadth of Britain, and the world. Students are from all walks of life and all ages. The beauty of the Open University is that you can study while you work, thus making it one of the most affordable ways of obtaining an education.

Over the years I have studied Spanish, Classics, Web Searching and Art History and will take my final examination for a Bachelors Degree in Humanities in October. On the way I have picked up one or two other qualifications which have proved useful. At times it has been hard work to keep up with working full time, running a home, moving house and country, and being a Mum, whilst studying at the same time. Nevertheless it has been a real adventure, opening up new horizons for me that I would not have thought possible.

I hold the distinction of being the first (and as far as I know, the only) student to take a Classics examination at the British Council in Dhaka, Bangladesh. My invigilator, a local employee of the Council, was very intrigued by my subject. I had to explain what I was studying, Ancient Greek life and history, and why. I think he understood my fascination with the past but could not fathom why I should want to take a degree in it!

So, now it is August. I have a paper due at the end of the week and then just one more before the examination. Wish me luck!