Planning our trip to Trinidad and Tobago

This post was written on behalf of Clickstay

So we are going to Trinidad and Tobago this summer…for a MONTH! Well, Laurence is going for two weeks because of work but the kids and I are making the most of getting over there for the first time in four years by staying that bit longer. Send me all your positive thoughts, prayers and vibrations for the transatlantic flight back on my own with three kids. I’m well intimidated but we’re a tiny team and it’ll be worth it.

When people find out I’m from Trinidad and Tobago they usually ask how often we get to go back. We mainly live on one income and with five tickets to buy, it’s easier for my parents to come visit us, even if we have made that more challenging by moving to remote Cornwall. With their help we’re finally making it out there and it feels like such a big deal, not least because we have no idea when we’d manage it again.

That’s why we’re planning ahead and thinking carefully about what we want to achieve with this trip. Seeing family and friends is a given as it’s my home country but it’s a holiday too so we’re thinking about how best to slow it down somewhere hot, sunny and beautiful. We also hope this will be a chance for the girls to start making longer term connections with a place and culture that’s an important part of their own identity. Certainly, at seven and four, Talitha and Ophelia are likely to remember their time there.

We’ll mainly be based in Trinidad, the bigger, faster paced, more urban sister isle where I grew up and where most of my family lives but we definitely want to make some time to chill out in Tobago which offers more of the classic Caribbean holiday vibe. We may also look at spending some time in the capital city, Port of Spain, just because it’s not something we’ve done in the past as my parents are based in South Trinidad.

I’m thinking of options for combining seeing people with the holiday thing and I think getting a villa could be an ideal solution so I’ve been taking a look through the properties on Clickstay. It allows you to stay somewhere self-catered with a swimming pool, generally in great locations, while splitting the cost of food and accommodation with whomever you’re staying with.


Image from Clickstay website

I really like the look of this Clickstay villa in Mount Irvine in Tobago, for instance. The location would particularly suit Laurence as it’s near the surf. Villa prices compare with hotels and Air BnB’s we’ve researched and we’ve found in the past that set ups like this allow us to enjoy quality vacation time with grandparents, for instance, without getting too much in each other’s space.

I’m keen to really document our time out in Trinidad and Tobago since it’s a big deal for us and it’s a bit of a “different” destination for a lot of people but one I think is worth considering. Perhaps I’ll pop a little bucket list on here before we go and I hope to put together a small guide for families once we’ve been. Let me know what you’d like to see and if you’re living out there, I’d love your suggestions. I haven’t lived there since I was nineteen and haven’t visited since Talitha and Ophelia were three years old and six months old so the proposition’s changed quite a bit this time around. We’re getting properly excited now!

Thanks to Clickstay for working with me on this post.


Sanctuary Villas Resort, Tobago

I love having a nose around hotels. I suppose there’s a sort of escapism in that, maybe a little daydreaming too. I’m actually not very well traveled so haven’t stayed in that many (though maybe more than some). We had a great time staying at Sanctuary Villas Resort in Tobago recently, though, so in case you’re a bit like me, I thought I’d show you around.

sanctuary villas resort tobago

The resort is a short distance from Mount Irvine beach, great for surfing, which is all Tobago means to Laurence.

sanctuary villas resort tobago-5

We stayed in the Hummingbird Villa, which sleeps eight in four bedrooms. We were actually seven adults, a child and a baby but our little family chose to share a – rather large – bed. Each villa has its own swimming pool and, with lots trees around, it all felt very private.

sanctuary villas resort tobago-3

It is self-catered and pretty much has everything you could need – even a laundry room. I really appreciate the attention that’s gone into the decor. From the colonial-style shutters to the paintings to the Caribbean floor tiles, the villa’s style is certainly considered.

sanctuary villas resort tobago-2

sanctuary villas resort tobago-7

The bedrooms are basic but comfortable (apart from ridiculously huge pillows – ouch!).

sanctuary villas resort tobago-8

I want to show you this room but I’m also showing you that I don’t stand like a lady.

sanctuary villas resort tobago-4

It was so cool of my parents to take us here. They’d stayed at the same villa the year before with a lot of our extended family for my grandfather’s birthday (evidently no one else has cared to sign the guest book since!). I wouldn’t mind making this a yearly thing – would you?


A Trip “Home” to Trinidad and Tobago

I don’t know what to say we’re doing when we book a trip to Trinidad and Tobago. I was born and raised there, so for most of the nine years I’ve been living in England, I’ve called it “home”. We’ve just got back from two weeks there and it felt strange to tell friends beforehand that we were “going home”.

My children hardly know the place and I’ve no idea whether they’ll ever live there. Laurence is from the West Country. T&T is certainly not his home. I moved here when I was nineteen. Virtually my whole adult life has been spent here. If we were to move there, I’d probably have as much to learn as any of us would.

Trinidad-and-Tobago-11

So, I wasn’t prepared to fight back tears as we stepped off the plane in Piarco International Airport, walking through to security. “It’s like I forget this place exists when I’m over there,” I told Laurence, my accent already beginning to slip back, as he predicted it would. It happens every time.

But this wasn’t like the other times. I didn’t feel the rush of relief when the plane landed, like I was suddenly in a safe place, a country I understood. It was more sentimentality than homecoming. Realising that made me a little sad. I suppose it’s inevitable. The longer we stay here, the more roots we put down here and the further back Trinidad and Tobago gets filed in my personal history.

Trinidad-and-Tobago-6

Before Laurence, my goals for going back were simple. I was in a frenzy to see everyone, family and friends. It was always university holidays so I’d try to pick up the odd bit of work here and there. Now, it’s mainly boiled down to spending time with my parents and drinking in the country I took for granted, growing up.

Here’s a bit of what we got up to this time while out there.

Trinidad-and-Tobago

We ate our body weight in mangoes. Well, Talitha could not be convinced to try them or anything else local. I tried (hard) not to take it personally.

Trinidad-and-Tobago-8

She was, however, fascinated with the tiny creatures who welcome themselves into Caribbean homes.

Trinidad-and-Tobago-4

The highlight of our trip was a stay at Sanctuary Villas Resort in Tobago. I loved it so much, in fact, that I’ll be blogging about it soon.

Trinidad-and-Tobago-9

Visiting Tobago allowed us to try out Castara Bay. The water is so calm and makes for gorgeous swimming. It’s a postcard beach. We’ll certainly be back.

Trinidad-and-Tobago-10

We also tried out a beach forty minutes from San Fernando in Trinidad since that’s where my parents live. I’m still not clear on whether it’s called Guapo or Clifton Hill. There seems to be a disagreement on this. I was desperate for a last dip in the sea and Talitha had a good play on the sand. It was nice enough but not particularly a beach I’d go out of my way for.

Trinidad-and-Tobago-3

I think my mother (pictured here) may have found it amusing that we wanted to go to a Sunday market. There was so much colour and such a great buzz running through the stalls but it took living “away” for me to see how fascinating these places are.

Trinidad-and-Tobago-7

Our trip happened to coincide with Independence Day – great fun as we got to see some pretty impressive fireworks. The media was filled with talk of the nation’s identity, which was particularly stirring to read at a time when I was mulling over my own.

I don’t think there’s ever going to be a time when Trinidad and Tobago is non-essential to how I understand the world and myself. There’s never truly going to be a time where it’s not, on some level, home.


Back from a holiday at home

It’s been pretty quiet around here. We’ve just got back from a month away in Trinidad and Tobago. So much has happened in that time I can scarcely believe it’s only been four weeks.

It was just enough time to make me feel disoriented and a bit sad upon returning to Bristol. The distance from my parents hurts more now that we have Talitha to share. I always leave wondering whether I’ll ever live there again. Not knowing the answer puts a lump in my throat.

Our arrival has been eased by two things: the sunny weather here in England and the last days of the 2012 Paralympics. These games drew me in and captured my imagination in a way that the Olympics hadn’t.

Channel 4 has done a commendable job in covering it. The steam punk flair and drama of the Paralympics closing ceremony made the Olympics closing ceremony look a mess. All in all, the buzz around these games has been so inspiring, it hopefully redefines “disability” for Britain and beyond. Certainly, all of London 2012 seems to have got everyone fired up about sports. Even I’m tempted.

I’m sitting here watching the closing ceremony while Talitha dances to Coldplay with pen and paper in hand. This moment feels like it marks all the month’s changes.

We got through the worst illness she’s had yet. We think it was tonsillitis. It was hard. She stopped breastfeeding. She lived in my arms. She got better. She started breastfeeding again. Our bond is stronger.
View Post


Baby’s first overseas holiday

So we’re finally back from our month-long holiday in Trinidad and Tobago. As evidenced by how quiet it’s been on Circus Queen, I got a little distracted.

Talitha is now an airplane flying badass. We flew from Gatwick to Tobago, Tobago to Trinidad, Trinidad to Tobago, Tobago to Trinidad again, Trinidad to Tobago again, then Tobago back to Gatwick. Phew! We actually survived all that. As everyone assured me we would.

To those who made it sound like the flight out there wouldn’t be so difficult, I’m glad I didn’t believe you. At the same time, I wouldn’t go as far as a friend who compared it to giving birth did. For the 17 flippin’ hours it took us to get from door to door, the baby slept for a grand total of 45 minutes – and not even all at once.

Luckily, she’s just not a cranky baby. Even so, flying with any six-month-old is not for the faint of heart. But we got through it. With lots of “Here’s this toy. Now this one. Check out this new toy from Grandmum and Puppa. Ok, the safety instructions are more interesting. Oh yes, that vomit bag’s good for chewing. Let’s play ‘This is the way the lady rides’. Ergobaby carrier time. Look at that little girl. Hi, can I trouble you to help me get my bag down? Do you mind watching her while I pop to the loo?” for nine hours.
View Post