I first visited back in 1983. I was in my final year at Leicester Poly and about to hit the grand old age of 21. My mum saved from her meagre payslip for what must have been a few years to buy me a plane ticket for my birthday . "It's time you saw where your parents were born", she announced. I wasn't complaining. So, whilst she sat at her kitchen table typing up my final dissertation, I jetted excitedly into the unknown.
The love I have for this beautiful Caribbean island has never left me and I have returned many times.
Years later with a family of my own, it seemed only fitting that I should celebrate my 50th birthday in Barbados. So I, too, saved my pennies for years so that I would be able to treat myself and my divas to the holiday of a lifetime.
And what a holiday it was! Friends and family flew out to help me end what has turned out to be, six months of birthday celebrations. This may seem a tad excessive or even extravagant to some but believe me it was worth the expense because we have had a BALL!
I enjoyed seeing my Bajan family again and meeting new ones I didn't know existed. It felt that everywhere we turned there was someone being introduced as a cousin...or maybe that's just a Caribbean thing.
We had a brilliant day sunning it with friends on a Catamaran.
I discovered that I hate snorkelling...Hey I like breathing too much - go figure! I reconciled my fear of getting my hair wet (Diva? Moi?) and went swimming with the turtles. I even went to a specialist hairdresser to have my hair done for the first time in fourteen years - having been teased by friends who have never washed their own locs. Who knew?
I rekindled my love of all things rum and discovered a new love in Gin, creating a 'new' (to me) cocktail we named The Ridge Cooler after the villa we were lucky enough to stay in the final week.
I finally worked out that I no longer feel the need to chase the nightlife on the Island and was just as happy picking La Divas up from a night out knowing that they'd had a great time. I draw the line at clubbing along with my children - although I'm sure I could show them a thing or two on the dance floor.
Why are you rolling your eyes?
I slept and I swam and I read. My birthday Kindle (thank you) became my best friend. The girls, friends, family and I talked and laughed until we cried. We made the mistake of playing dominoes with our young cousins. Nothing much beats the humiliation of being thrashed at dominoes by a 10 and a 13 year old..repeatedly..and then being laughed at...loudly.
I am so thankful for having the means to afford such a holiday and for having such wonderful friends and family to spend it with. I loved being with my funny ladies who, let's be real here, have driven me to the edge of sanity and back on more than one occasion.
But most of all I'm just so glad that my mum instilled in me the importance of saving my pennies...and for giving me the best 21st birthday present EVER.
I have told my friends that my celebrations are over...for now. I know I milked it and I make no apologies. I have never needed much of an excuse to party!
What about you? Are you a celebration addict? How will you celebrate your next big birthday or anniversary? Or do you hate the mere thought of a party?
Whilst you're thinking about it...here's my recipe:
Ridge Cooler/Gin Cooler/Reddskin Gin
1 tsp brown sugar
2/3 capfuls Gin (I used Bombay Sapphire...pretty colour bottle!)
2 slices of cucumber, diced.
Half pink grapefruit - segments and juice.
Chuck all the above in a tall glass half filled with ice cubes. Top up with tonic water.
Drink and relax...preferably in the sun.
For an refreshing alcohol-free version... *blank stare*... omit the Gin.