Monday, 23 July 2012

Wonderful Hash in Portland

After missing the last three hashes - 3 weeks vacation in Canada rather got in the way - I was glad to be back hashing on Sunday.  We went up over The Junction to Portland and into the hills behind Annotto Bay.  It was very beautiful and such a treat to be out of the summer heat of Kingston.

This was about 90 minutes from Kingston; or just over an hour when Marti is driving. Many thanks to Marti and Albert for giving me, Britta, and Fred a ride.  And good to have know two new friends!

We walked from the parking area up along a aqueduct to a small waterfall and 'blue pool' - blue, I think, from the algae similar to that which colour many lakes in Canada. This is the place for the local lads to show their stuff jumping off the ledge into about 10 ft. of water: most of them just hang around, some of them jump, none of them can swim. The pool was wonderfully refreshing as it is fed from the runoff from the Blue Mountains where it rains daily this time of year, and some hashers - including moi, Britta, Fred, Marti, and Albert - went for a swim.  Not having brought my 'swimmers', as they say in Jamaica, it was the wet T-shirt/dripping shorts look post-dip. I did change to dry T and shorts for drive home. Moral of the story: always take dry clothes to a hash. 

Local resident and young farmer, Richard, and his band of merry men cleared an area in the forest to provide a beautiful area for our pre and post hash socializing.  They also cooked the soup - which was the best I have ever had in Jamaica! - and tasty meal of some kind of chicken, pork, rice & peas, and breadfruit roasted right in the fire. And they were, indeed, merry men: most of them were higher than kites, particularly Richard's younger brother Junior; you didn't need your own ganja because all you had to do was breathe deeply. Ah, the benefits of second hand smoke . . . 

On a very sad note, while we were there Richard was on his cell phone to find out that his 3 week old baby had died.  He was not even sure in which local hospital his girlfriend and baby were located.  We all bowed our heads in moments of silence. Then we made a collection from individuals and the JAH3 organization to help Richard with whatever he might need. A poignant reminder of the preciousness of life and of how these wonderful Jamaican people, who live a hard-scrabble life in the hills, love their families above anything.

As always, now to the pictures!

Richard's Merry Men stoking the fire and making the best soup ever that it cooked directly over the coals.

The cooking fire.

The aqueduct, along which we walked to the hash site and then further up the mountain on the hash. Amazing.

The blue pool.

I think that inner-tube is the Jamaican version of a life jacket.

This lad was a regular swinging off the rope and into the pool.  The chap on the right sat there all afternoon and never ventured into the pool.

The hash site.  On right in black, back to camera, is Richard.

Every hash, Lois (pronounced "Loy") keeps us honest collecting the hash fees and making sure everyone is registered.

On the drive home, we stopped at Annotto Bay for the view.  It was worth it.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Summer Holidays at Keats Island

I am on my way back to Jamaica after three wonderful weeks with family and friends. Spent the first week visiting my Mum and then to my niece's wedding and time with my daughters, grandkids, sisters and many other relatives.  I posted the wedding pictures, Hayley & Matt's Wedding, on my Facebook album if you are interested.

Then I spent two whole weeks at the cottage on Keats Island, towing my two Russian Blues with my for their summer holiday - they are being fostered by wonderful people, Mihai and Alexandra, while I am in Jamaica. 

There was much to do - there always is at Keats, but I did read a couple of books and spent a good deal of time sitting in the window seat watching the world go by.  The first week of weather was very wet: 6 adults, two 4 year olds, one 16 month old, a dog and two cats are bit much in a small cottage on a rainy day :-)  However, everyone made the most of it and the sun finally came through.  We had good meals, lots of laughs, and daily boat rides.  Even went swimming with Owyn on Sunday night. 

Also visited with summer friends at Keats, always an enjoyable time.  On Saturday afternoon we went to the 45th Annual Lamb BBQ, sponsored by the Bingham family. Always a great occasion with everyone bringing their best to add to the pot-luck table. 

As always, it was a sad parting early this morning as I loaded cats and luggage into the boat and made my way to Gibsons (boat is moored at Smitty's Marina) and the ferry back to mainland. Had a nice visit with Jenn, Warren, and Lizzie; with Mer and Owyn and Auntie Jane joining us; for a casual farewell dinner - and great playtime with best friends Owyn and Lizzie. 

Now at the airport in Vancouver and hoping to finish this before I board . . .  which did not happen, but now in Toronto airport and they finally have free wifi here!

I know this blog is not very exciting, but I have been offline for most of the past three weeks and need to slowly get back into the habit.  Maybe the pictures will make it more interesting . . . .

For those of you who have not been to Keats (or forget) a reminder of the place I am talking about. 

Breakfast on the deck.

The deck - taken in summer 2011

 Ramp, dock, kayak, boat and water-play area

Always ready for a run to Gibsons for groceries or ice-cream

Jenn, Owyn, Lizzie, and Warren enjoying a weiner roast on our one non-rain day.

Fire is always a scary thing at Keats, except on the beach, and Jenn takes care of extinguishing it.

Miss Maisie rather proud that she has commandeered her Nana's favourite window seat

New chairs for growing numbers of kidlets

Friends, Wendy and Julie, came for their annual visit. This picture must have been taken early in the day because we were actually drinking water :-)

Bingham cottage, where the lamb BBQ was held on the beach in the forefront.

Guests arrived by trail and boat

Owyn (on right) with his new friend Eli.

Always interesting things to find on the beach

Chief chef, Walter, roasting the lamb over the fire pit on the beach.  You have to time this so that the lamb is done before high tide, which takes care of extinguishing the fire pit.

Lot of kids; fun to watch the next generation grow

Edna May, who has summered at Keats every year for over 80 years, having first arrived at 6 months old. She is helped to the beach by her youngest daughter, Bronwyn.

A boy, two dogs and a beach - doesn't get much better than this.

Never too old for belly laugh!

The gathering and the blessing before the feast.

Jesse and wife with twin boys, Moses and Jack, born in October but due in January. They were a couple of pounds each, but now weight 19 lbs!  Big boys and all is well.

Owyn helped himself to his first Nanaimo Bar.

LizzyBetty enjoys a morning with me on the window seat.

Whittington find room on my other side

This is what two 4 year olds can do to a room on a rainy day in the cottage . . . 

. . . and this is how the little angels look after their bath, eating chips and marshmallows for bedtime snack and watching Finding Nemo.