Travel Challenge – The Results, Day Seven

You kindly followed me through ten days of travel pictures, guessing where each one might be. I thought I’d put you out of your collective miseries/make you punch the air with a ‘Yes, I was right’ with a follow up.

Day Seven was

Tobago. For several years, we indulged our children in a week in the Caribbean and visited several of the delightful islands: the rather grand Barbados, the nouveau Antigua, the brassy Turks and Caicos, the delightful St Lucia and Tobago, a teenage boy of an island which is often twinned with Trinidad and which we visited (it’s the grown up in that relationship). We always had fun, and I always ended up wondering at my instinctual prejudices that said sitting on a beach or sitting in bathwater warm sea water for a week was a waste of a holiday, while forgetting no holiday spent with the family is wasted. I wrote a poem about my feelings on that Tobagoan beach… it says more about my blinkered mindset that it does about Tobago which was as welcoming as you could want..


Cinnamon sand, bathwater warm seas.

A rocky cove, delicately whitewashed with guano.

A chorus of gulls,

Hectoring backbenchers all.

Languid fish

Predator free,

Tarty in their coral finery,

Flit with each wave and shadow.

A threatened afternoon shower,

Lurking out west,

Plays Grandma’s footsteps with us.

Insidious if welcome relief.

Dotted about, dolls house furniture, neatly ambiguous,

Gives form to our sense of free play.

There’s a theme-park perfection

To our brochure born dreams:

Delicate palm thatch sits on wood-effect cast steel struts;

Natural gardens of scarlet and lemon,

Are chemically sprayed in the pre dawn

To remove the sweet sucking locals

And maintain their garage forecourt perfection;

Somnambulant waves crunch constantly

On carefully constructed coralesque outcrops

Of concrete and clay.

Intelligent broadsheet readers,

Risk averse to their last mortgage repayment,

Strip to expose fields of white melanoma seeds,

For proofing in the fiery Caribbean sun.

Out here, once cynical plumbers and sceptical lawyers

Believe in miracle potions,

Sold by plc paid shamen

Sitting in concrete and glass.

They poach happily in the calypso heat

Confident in the protection of their chemist’s latest best

Anti-ultraviolet Kryptonite.

Baste, boil, burn, balm.

The daily mantra.

One day, in a break from the lullabying sun,

These successors to Speke and Burton

Hire a guide to explore this foreign country.

Such exotica, so much novelty, the frisson of new experiences:

The baked breadfruit and goat curry to eat,

Specially prepared by curious locals

(My aunt has a stall in Brixton: you know it?);

The glimpses of a bird life unique to this area

(Though the same species has now taken over our local park)

They explore the coral and come face to face with sharks and conger eels

(Through the medium of the glass-bottomed boat).

They will tell how they steeped themselves in this foreign culture,

Deep enough to fuel several dinner party boasts

And oft-repeated family anecdotes

But it is a mere gossamer’s touch

For they’ve paid for the inoculations

That this resort provides.

Later, the first grizzles

From their sand frosted charges

Keep them from sinking completely into

This closed-eye fiction;

Some deep ingrained part of Arnos Grove

Or Clapham remains alert

Amongst the beach buffet of bloated human roti,

Ready to move at the slightest whinge

With due Hampstead haste

To avert disaster,

Administer chastisement

And return, with reclaimed inertia,

To their sun beds.

Tucked to the side, away from adult sightlines,

Are the adolescent actors.

One side slyly, shyly struts, playground porn movie wannabees;

The other watches with faux indifference hiding lust and acne behind Boots best aviator shades.

Each retains its hard-wired instinct to avoid

The occasional, random tidal surge of parental interest.

A surfeit of Rum cocktails and jetlag

Releases their corralled hormones

From the constraints imposed

By uniforms

And maths

And suffocating supervision,

And give 3D shape

To their flat screen, sweet sticky-sweat dreams.

Onto this fired and febrile world

That creeping afternoon shower,

Delivering large wet dollops of reality,

Can’t come soon enough.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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7 Responses to Travel Challenge – The Results, Day Seven

  1. trifflepudling says:

    Ha, I was going to say Trinidad (after your various pointers)!
    That’s a great poem, thanks.
    My bro-in-law was thinking longingly about his cricket trip to the Caribbean 2 years ago…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue Vincent says:

    I would swap bathwater-warm sea right now for a room chilled by a determined doorstop of a dog 😉 I never got as far as the Carribean.

    Liked by 1 person

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