“You don’t want dat yet, child, she’s still a bit wetty wetty,” smiles Patricia, from across the counter. Her beaming grin conveys knowledge, wisdom and warmth, and who am I to question her? She’s been the omelette chef here at the Hilton Barbados for ‘longer than she cares to remember’ and knows a thing or two about perfect eggs.
I know Patricia is right and go for a wander around the rest of the hotel restaurant to pass the time. The whole far side of the venue has windows looking over Needhams Point, the most south-westerly point of the island; to look out across the sea from here is to look out over the Caribbean, away from the pestle and mortar-shaped Barbados and on to Grenada.
Just to my right is the swimming pool complex with its unique shape – a large blue fidget-spinner set slightly back from the off-white sand of the huge beach. The Hilton team has very smartly divided the beach with a stone wall for two types of use: a circular cove with gentle lapping waves and a square beach off to the side with livelier water.
Just behind the pool complex, with Jacuzzi and bar, is an upper-level pool; beyond that is the ground floor of the hotel. Guests arriving at the Hilton Barbados pass into the lobby here to be greeted with the sea breeze passing up over the pools and into the open-air check-in area; it’s a wonderful way to start the stay.
Many of the guest rooms, just above the lobby, also have that ocean view – mine is no different and opening the curtains to an enormous canvas of turquoise is just about the perfect way to start any day, be it a meeting – the hotel hosts conferences such as the one we are attending, Connect Barbados, and many more – or a couple’s honeymoon or family vacation.
Fortunately, today is not a conference day as the business of Connect Barbados has been done and dusted, so thoughts can turn to sight-seeing. That includes the quite brilliant Peg Farm Reserve in the parish of Saint Joseph, on the north-eastern edge of the island.
The parish of Saint Joseph is sometimes referred to as the ‘Scotland District’, and – if you ignore the gorgeous warm weather and palm trees – it’s easy to see why: the rugged coastline that rises then dives towards the sea; the lush green vegetation; the swirling clouds. It almost feels likes it’s time for a nip of whiskey, although, of course the preferred tipple here is rum – often served in a sugary, colourful, boozy punch.
PEG Farm Reserve
The farm was founded by Barbados native, Paul Bourne, after fighting chronic back pain for 30 years and realising that his diet and stressful lifestyle were the cause.
The prognosis was a more relaxed lifestyle, organic food and to be surrounded in nature – and his home country of Barbados seemed the perfect environment. Now the organic and biodynamic farm (using the astrological calendar to dictate the timing of planting and harvesting) produces vegetables such as pumpkins and herbs and spices, as well as free-range chicken and pork.
There are tours of the grounds and educational seminars, sometimes led by Bourne’s family, offered on-site plus a farm shop selling the produce. It’s worth a visit even just to sit on the veranda, admire the view and sip the homegrown herbal tea.
We had been able to enjoy the aforementioned dynamic coastline up close and personal that week, thanks to the Island Safari.
Admittedly, ‘safari’ is not really the right word for this service – it’s more of a jeep taxi than a wildlife-spotting excursion – but our knowledgeable and hilarious guide Joseph showed us the highs and lows of the island in an inimitable style; think off-roading meets comedy club.
Joseph weaves through golf courses and palm plantations – all the while sharing anecdotes and adages – on the way to the lookouts at Mount Hillaby and Cherry Tree Hill.
As we pile out of the van – and pour ourselves another obligatory shot of rum punch – there is the usual buzz of souvenir-sellers, as is to be expected at popular spots like this. However, as we move away from the roadside to the hilltop, the vendors realise we were looking for quiet and leave us to our moment.
I sip on the bright pink and potent liquid as I drink in the view: the vibrant green of the grassy hillside directly below me giving way to the sandy yellows and dusty browns of the beaches and rocky outcrops, before dropping away into the sapphire of the sea.
It’s an exquisite view and a pleasant change from the traditional paradise postcard shot you might expect from the Caribbean.
The peace is broken as Joseph calls out from the jeep; it’s time to load up and head onwards. His casual, welcoming patter reminds me of Patricia back in the hotel restaurant – and I snap back to the current moment. My omelette must be ready.
For more information on Barbados, including accommodation and activities, go to Barbados’ tourism board’s website: visitbarbados.org.