North Stars visit 2018

Welcome good friends

Wednesday 15th August saw the visit of our very good friends from Crab Hill, St Lucy in Barbados. North Stars arrived for a day of cricket and socialising and a huge success it was too. A good number of folks came along to support the day and say hello. A huge thank you to all who came, too many to mention individually by name but you all played a part in the success of the day. However a special thank you must go to Kerry Thornton, Eric Bird and Vince Webb for their sterling efforts with the catering and bar.  

Morning drizzle turned into light cloud then blue skies and sunshine. The cricket match was exciting with Frocester posting 210 in their innings after 35 overs. In reply it was a stand out performance by captain Ashley Skeete for North Stars scoring a century guiding home his team to a fine win with just 5 overs remaining.

Our guests departed around 9.30 in rain, sad to be leaving and saying fond farewells, until next February at least when Frocester will be the visitors to North Stars for the return match. We can’t wait!


First full day

We all arrived safely and eventually were dropped off at our relevant hotel along with our luggage, well, nearly all that is because during the check in process Pistol was seen running between the two hotels looking for two suitcases for him and Jane that never turned up where they should have. I am assuming he has since located them.

Above are the merry band of souls about to venture forth to the check in gate. Thanks to Emma and Virgin for use of the V lounge prior to leaving for breakfast and drinks.

Monday evening was a chance to relax a little after the long day travelling.

The first full day, Tuesday was a subdued day with people acclimatising to their new surroundings. Yours truly was feeling a touch under the weather. This was due, I was reliably informed by seasoned traveler Stu Peacey was all down to the dodgy Ginger used in the drinks the previous evening. All those beers were fine, so too the rum so I guess he has a point about the ginger being responsible for my feeling of nausea that lasted all day.

‘Six on the Beach’ did take place as is normal tradition now. Brave hardy souls meeting up at the oceans edge for a ‘bob’ and a chat. Who would have put money on George Doors being the first to arrive?

As far as I am aware not to much to report but stories may unfold as the days go by. What I will say though after an early morning rain shower freshened things up was it was very hot. The welcome relief of the sea breeze and some cold drinks helping matters somewhat.

Oh, quickly going back a day briefly there was an incident, which I can mention on late Monday night. A couple of us had ventured over to a couple of music bars. I use the term bars very loosely as they were just wooden huts basically with chairs outside. Anyway, nearing the end of the night I decided to use the facilities. After being pointed in the right direction I found the restrooms. I ventured in and closed the cubicle door behind me. Only for a voice outside to shout” You are in the ladies restroom mon”. To which I replied ” Sorry, I have started now so I will finish”. This I duly did and opened the door to see a woman stood by the hand basins. Needless to say I was very apologetic again. At which point she spoke and said “come on then”. What the bloody hell?! You have never seen any 66 year old bloke move so quick. It was a good job there were no selectors there as I would have been surely entered into the next Olympics.

It was lovely to see good friends Randy, Amory and Dwayne in the evening in the bar now renamed Amigo’s. This place has had more name changes than Prince! Once known as The Whistling Frog then it became The Sporting Pig and I am sure there were others.

Anyway the actual place itself has stayed the same inside with cheap beers and a happy (two) hours. The next Odi between The Windies and England will be live on the tv’s in the bar so a good excuse to get out of the blazing hot sun for a couple of hours should one wish.

Well that’s all for today you will be pleased to know. we will see what unfolds this second full day then as we prepare for the first cricket match tomorrow up at North Stars. More later then as I go and dry off. Because as I sit here typing this at 5.30 am in the morning in the little courtyard there was a sudden rain shower as often happens, brief rain shower first thing then when the sun rises it all drys up but offering freshness to the air briefly. Anyway to keep dry I moved into the restaurant area, only to find the roof leaked therefore having to move further in again and again. I was up and down like a happy mans bum!

Cricket tour to the Caribbean

Well dear readers two years have passed since the last blog, which followed the progress of the new pavilion build.

You should have all recovered by now so here we go with a new series of updates following the fortunes of 60 intrepid explorers as they engage in a cricket tour to Barbados.

As one good friend on that magical island said yesterday “now the real England tour begins”.

We will endeavour to win friends and hopefully 3 cricket matches along the way, but don’t bet on it!

There will be no talk of Brexit and the only backstop will be the one on the back of a stool to stop people falling off.

Di, Liz, Noah and myself were part of an advance party travelling down the day before as it was unfair to get Noah up at 3.00am in the morning to catch a bus. It also meant having a little extra time resting. In fact I woke up at midnight and have been awake ever since. Hence why this is an early morning blog.

4.20am I received notification that the last group have been picked up and are now on route to Gatwick. The other advantage of arriving the day before was to forewarn the bars to be brace themselves as a liquid breakfast will surely ensue after check in.

Well nothing else to report just yet as not a lot is happening at this ungodly hour of the morning.

Rest assured though good people I will update you all later. However as on all good trips the old adage applies, ‘what goes on tour stays on tour’. I will respect that of course but I am sure there will be much I can report on to entertain, amuse and enlighten you all with as the tour unfolds.

I will sign off this blog with an advance apology for any typing errors now and/or in the future. My excuse is my fingers are too big for my phone keypad plus the dreaded autocorrect, which annoys the hell out of me. Not forgetting fatigue and maybe a drop of rum impairing the coordination of said fingers as the days go by.

There we have it then, the start of another load of drivel for the next couple of weeks.

Happy Monday all.

Friday 26th February

A day of shopping and sunbathing for many, this the last full day before packing everything in the cases for the trip home.

A quiet day then followed but with some anticipation of the fines evening ahead. So straight onto the evening then. I am sure you would not expect me to reveal what went on and why people were fined. The new fines committee comprised of some of the younger element on tour and they did a fantastic job as the room filled with laughter.

Dinner was taken and this was followed by drinks until the wee hours of the next morning. Highlight has to be the re-enactment of the Full Monty by some of the boys who stood facing the sea at the waters edge butt naked waving their shorts in the air. Not to be outdone a few of the young ladies decided they could stage an equally entertaining performance.  Standing waving tops in the air. All good innocent fun that had the other guests and even the waitresses rushing to watch and shrieking with laughter.

The clock struck midnight and Kate’s birthday was greeted with a chorus of happy birthday from those gallant troops still able to string two words together. A couple of impromptu ‘bombs’ in the pool and the night ended with people drifting back to their rooms.

This will be the last blog of the tour and I hope it may have amused, informed and offered a feel of what this unique trip is all about.

The essence of the tour is all about fun and that we had in abundance. Although it may come across as such it was not all about drinking, although there was plenty available if required. The group was a perfect blend of all ages and the chemistry was excellent with everyone mixing well, even if they did not even know each other before. New friends have been made and existing ones strengthened.

The hotel was as good as the first trip here 2 years ago, in fact some things have improved slightly. Everyone seemed very comfortable in the hotel complex and it has a nice feel about it. For those who remember, the same sort of feel as the old  Escape at the Gap.

So the question is do we do it again?

It appears the overwhelming response from certainly those here now is a definite yes. So good people pencil in your diaries February/March 2018 for a 2 week fun filled experience. A get together back at Frocester in the near future to confirm but more than likely we will return to The Barbados Beach Club. The general consensus is we limit the numbers to 50 and see what the overall response is.

This tour is not confined to Frocester club members, it is open to all and if you play cricket even better.

Thanks for reading this drivel, see you back at the club.

 

Thursday 25th February

Todays blog will be very short good people. Following a simply great day on Wednesday, the aftermatch celebrations and for some the late night/early morning partying down ‘The Gap’  has taken it’s toll.

It is a broken team of cricketers this morning when they did eventually surface. Not just the players but many of the tour party appeared to be in recovery mode.

Funny sort of day as there was for the island a much welcome rain shower very first thing in the morning and a slightly heavier one in the evening. The island is experiencing a drought currently following lack of rainfall.

In between those showers it was so hot it was almost impossible to lay in full sun due to the intense heat. A good deal of protection was needed, shade and it was a case of hoping a cloud would come over and lower the temperature just a little.  Not complaining at all though as we will soon be back home to the wonderful British weather.

We did have a short sharp shower in the afternoon which caused all those on the beach to seek somewhere to shelter for a minute or two.  All that is except one tour party member who decided to remain where he was laying. He remained there soaking wet until he heard the clink of plates as afternoon sandwiches and cake was served. You will note therefore that it is not all about booze, partying and singing!

It seemed that several groups of tourists decided tonight to leave the hotel and enjoy a last meal out at one of the many and varied restaurants on offer. Tomorrow will see the rugby on at one of the sports bars, as we are 4 hours behind that means a late afternoon kick off. It is also fines night and a last opportunity to sample nearby Oistins friday fish fry.

Sorry that’s it for today, it is now 06.50 and I am off for a cup of tea and to sit around on the patio area by the pool talking nonsense with a few of the others and recalling the events of the previous day, those that cannot be written about and will stay here on tour. That is until the lure of breakfasts tempts us in.

 

Wednesday 24th February

Today there was an air of anticipation for the day ahead, could this be the day we record our first victory on the current tour?

It was an earlier start for the trip up than normal as we had planned as a surprise to take a detour to the Kensington Oval for the purpose of capturing a team and group photograph. The authorities graciously allowed us entry and onto the playing area. Whereupon we gathered in front of the Sir Garfield Sobers stand. Very many photos later we expressed our thanks and returned to the coach for the trip up the West Coast to Crab Hill.

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Sheldon our driver took to the microphone at every opportunity to point out places of interest along the route with real passion and pride. The drive was a sedate affair following the white knuckle rides of late.

The good people of Crab Hill welcomed us into their club like long lost friends returning home. Indeed that is exactly how it felt to the many regulars who have strong friendships with so many here over the years. The lunchtime buffet they had laid on for us was second to none, a feast of sandwiches, meat, fish cakes, bread and cakes. All home made and superbly cooked and baked as well.

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With the wicket being rolled the boys walked out to the middle in what the blazing sun. I have to admit  I am glad I retired as boy that was hot out there in the field. The toss was made and the game commenced with Frocester batting first. A superb innings from Dan Whincup who scored 64 was the highlight. Contributions of 36 from Renaldo Hyland, 24 from James Cook and 32 from Jeff Yearwood, Frocester finally finishing on 239 for 9

In reply North Stars never really got on top of the Frocester bowling attack with the opening pair both exiting without troubling the scorer. A mini revival followed but never kicked on. North Stars were all out for 150 in the 22nd over. There were 2 wickets apiece for Richie Cave, Dan Cave and Ali Bray along the way.

Imediately following the game there was a small but touching ceromony involving the planting of a Frangipani tree in memory of Ashley Toppin. A few words were spoken, including some from West Indies legend Charlie Griffith, the tree was planted and a plaque was inserted into the ground. It was a special moment for those of us that knew Ashley and it seemed even more so from his many friends and colleagues at the North Stars club.

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What happened after all that will stay on tour, needless to say it involved a lot of food, alcohol and the obligatory singing. All outside on a warm Caribbean night with a lovely breeze cooling everyone down. The trip back was just as memorable with singing on both buses and even dancing in the aisles on the one.

Fair to say all 3 games have been special for different reasons and a great time has been enjoyed at each. The cricket had improved each game culminating in a fine victory. The greatest joy however is the strengthening bonds of friendship we are privileged to enjoy with so many, both young and old, here on the most friendliest of islands.

Well that’s it in terms of planned events with the exception of ‘fines night’ so the blog content will be less I am afraid. But who knows the unexpected always seems to happen at any moment so keep reading just in case.

Tuesday 23rd February

What another scorcher of a day with numerous folks, despite having been in the sun for 10 days, still getting slightly burnt. Those that had chosen to stay around the hotel anyway.

A few more adventurous types set off to discover more of the islands history. This time our good friends Martin & Slyvia, Jean & Steve ventured through some tunnels under the Garrison Savannah. These are still being uncovered by the authorities even now. It appears these were two fold. Firstly as the ground was originally marshland they were used as a drainage system. The other more glamorous and exciting use was by the British soldiers to use if they came under attack. The tunnels stretched for a very way in several directions from the barracks to the coast in places.

It is a reminder than Barbados is more than just a sun kissed island for those seeking sun and sea it is actually enormously rich in history. Even before the first English settlers back in 1627, but obviously that was the start of the biggest and most fascinating changes.

There was shock news today as the fines committee who had been in operation for many tours decided to step down to allow a younger team to bring new and fresh ideas to the table. This challenge was accepted without question so who knows what will await us on Friday evening.

There was some light relief from the blazing sun today with an impromptu attempt at synchronised swimming from the ladies in the hotel pool. I personally missed this but I have been reliably informed it was a sight to behold.

A fairly quiet evening by our standards as many opted for an earlyish night in preparation for the big game tomorrow up at good friends of Frocester, namely North Stars Cultural and Social Club, Crab Hill, near Stroud Bay in St Lucy.

I will leave today with a couple of early morning pictures as I am sure you have seen enough of the sunny daytime ones across various social media sites these past few days.

6.00am view looking west.
06.00 view looking west.

6.00am looking East.
06.00 looking east towards Oistins.

 

Monday 22nd February

Apologies for the delay but the Internet access here is very patchy at times. I am sure you are all on the edge of your seat in anticipation of the next instalment

As always following a match, people are slow at rising and today was no exception. It was one of those days that everyone did their own thing. It is therefore impossible to report on everything that went on. I can only inform you of what happened during my day.

A small group of 6 of us caught one of the local buses to Speightstown, not many on the bus so at least there was plenty of room. There was a couple of minor skirmishes with the smaller ‘ZR’  buses with jostling for position in order to pick up fare paying passengers along the route. We made our way around some of what can be best, diplomatically, described as the poorer areas of the capital. The bus stopping at one point right in the middle of the road and not I must add at a designated bus stop, for the drivers mate to walk off in no particular rush into an adjacent shop to buy the driver a bottle of Coke. There were moments on longer quieter stretches of road where his speed picked up and there was no way he was within the speed limit. Oh well we got there in one piece, just!

We walked into the centre of Speightstown and enjoyed a nice cold pint at The Fisherman’s Pub. Then decided to move down the (West) coast a short distance to Mullins Bay. We jumped on a southbound bus for a mere mile or two and got off right outside the beach itself and the Beach bar/restaurant only to be greeted by most of the boys and girls who had also found their way there. Another drink was ordered and a table for lunch. Sat at the next table was Talksport football pundit Alan Brazil with a couple of loud friends. Next to that table was Jeremy Clarkson having lunch with Andrew Lloyd Webber and wife.

A great put down by the waitress to the loud cockney friends with Alan Brazil who wanted the table we were given, they indicated her that they should be given our spot as they were famous to which she replied “everyone here is famous’ and walked away.

The journey back was long, hot and at school chucking out time so busy. No worries though we had nothing spoiling and we arrived back at the hotel ready for a quiet night in at the hotel.

Sorry nothing more exciting that that I’m afraid. Although the boys and girls we bumped into earlier seemed to have a fun day touring the island with most in the back of Randy’s pick up truck. Stopping for drinks and food whilst enjoying the stunning, dramatic landscape of the East coast.

 

Sunday 21st February

My apologies now before you start as this blog could be a long one today.

A great day of entertainment at Isolation Cavaliers, which started with a hiccup on the transportation front. Instead of the larger vehicle a last minute issue with that bus meant we had to use two vehicles. Naturally the players and a large contingent of supporters left on the first bus. A small group of unsuspecting souls waited patiently for bus number 2, which arrived some 30 – 40 minutes later.

The last words I remember saying was ‘we are late so don’t spare the horses’. I regret that comment now! Although that ride will go down in the folklore of tales from the tours.

We set off at a blistering pace, only slowing down for potholes. Our driver was keen to make up for the lost waiting time at the hotel. It felt like we negotiated roundabouts on two wheels. At one point on one of the narrower roads we even forced one driver to pull over to let us through.

We left the main highway to take a more direct route. It was an area our driver must have known well. Contrary to the UK where we more often than not use the horn as an aggressive signal, here on the island it is used as a thank you but mainly as a way of saying hello to someone you know. Well this guy obviously knew a lot of people as the horn was used a great deal.  Perhaps in this case he was maybe telling people to get out of the road as this bus ain’t slowing down for no one.

Our journey continued along some twisting, heavily potholed roads. I am sure at one point we went off road! Even a police vehicle blocking the road as he was performing a three point turn was not spared. He quickly completed his manoeuvre and moved off with our runaway bus showing no signs of mercy or slowing down.

In fairness we did witness some fantastic views as reached the peak of one hill. Miles of the eastern coastline could be seen and was simply stunning. Anyway we reached our destination in one piece and in record time.

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Onto the cricket then, batting first again Frocester scored a respectable 203 for 8 in the allotted 35 overs. This included a 50 for Renaldo Hyland who was guesting for us. Another notable score included a fine 30 not out for Sam Birch. This was despite the comments from the live commentator, who was very amusing it has to be said. Very loud music between overs added to the great atmosphere of fun.

In reply Richie Cave claimed 2  more wickets and there was a wicket apiece for Jade Padmore, Dan Whincup and Sam Birch who was our man of the match. Not enough though and I am sorry to report that Isolation reached 204 for 5 in the 32nd over to claim victory by 5 wickets.

No disgrace whatsoever in an excellent game of cricket played in the right manner with both sides looking for the win.

Late afternoon and the shadows grew longer as the sun started to set.

Following a brief presentation of awards and thanks from both sides the drinks flowed, although for those non playing members it had been anyway.

As the evening went on the music became louder and the dancing ‘dirtier’ as our guest players showed everyone how to dance Bajan style. Our younger members soon joined in and the dancing spilled onto the cricket field outside.

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The moment came to leave so after saying our goodbyes we made the journey home to renditions of many of the old favourites. They may be old songs but we always find new ways of singing them badly.

Well I apologise again for this lengthy blog but it was another great day. As with all this ramblings there is a lot more that happens but some things will always stay on tour.