Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Chillin' In Little Bristol




A cricket obsession, a pub culture centered around rum shops and the people's reserved manner, have helped earn Barbados the nickname of "Little England." The island definitely exudes a singular quality that blends Caribbean spirit with a British sensibility. I found the best example of this in the quiet village of Speightstown, on the Eastern coast. Founded in 1653, Speightstown is the second biggest town in Barbados, after Bridgetown. It's a sleepy place filled with crumbling, historic buildings and serene beaches. I found the town charming, from my first stop at the iconic Fisherman's pub, which serves flying fish burgers and a spray of sea water if you sit too close to the beach side windows, to the outdoor market spilling over with papayas, plantains and pudding & souse. I have scary childhood memories about souse, which is a gory mix of pig parts, that my grandmother would make but it's a popular Bajan ritual to buy the stuff on Saturdays from a market stall. I discovered that the pudding is made from pigs intestines stuffed with sweet potatoes and seasonings. I did not sample it.


Speightstown is called "Little Bristol" because it was once a major port, shipping cotton and tobacco directly to Bristol. The harbor is mostly used by fishermen now but the beach offers tranquil, turquoise waters and gorgeous views.


Besides a laid back stroll down Queens Street, a visit to the Arlington Museum is a Speightstown must do. The museum is headquartered in a single 18th century house that's the architectural model for the houses that Bajan settlers built in Charleston, South Carolina. The entire museum uses high tech, interactive displays to tell the stories about Barbados' culture and history. For me, the most memorable display was about the pirate Stede Bonnet. He's apparently a famous swashbuckler, nicknamed the gentleman pirate but I had never heard of him. Bonnet was born on a Barbados plantation to a wealthy family, hence the gentleman moniker. He was a justice of the peace and married with three children when he up and decided to become a pirate. It's insinuated that marital squabbles drove him to it but women always get blamed for everything, even pirates. Anyway, he sailed a ship called Revenge, stocked with his beloved library. He's the only pirate who actually purchased his ship, instead of stealing it. He met up with Blackbeard and let him take over his ship since he was an incompetent sailor and joined him during the infamous siege on Charleston, where Bonnet was eventually jailed and hung. The exhibit feature's Bonnet's signature pirate flag and a talking model of the pirate that was quite creepy.

18 comments:

kristine said...

my belizean colleagues are always saying 'the barbadians are more english than the queen!"

That beach looks tempting...

Fly Girl said...

Barbados is certainly the most English island of the Caribbean, that British reserve throws some people!

Stephen Bess said...

Nice. You take great pictures. Love it.

Redman said...

Can't argue with that, but whatever keep the British tourists coming in their masses!
However, I am not sure that the Queen wold be too interested in Pudding or Souse..she doesn't know what she's missing!!

Fly Girl said...

Thanks Stephen!

Redman,thanks for droppin by. I know you're right, can't see the queen stuffing herself with pudding & souse!

Redman said...

But I would love to see her pelting waist on Kadooment Day! Unlikely though...maybe Harry would be interested?!

Fly Girl said...

Ha! That's a vision that I don't think I'll ever see. Yes, I think Harry would be the one most interested, especially if Allison Hinds was demonstrating!

Lola said...

Gorgeous pictures. Thanks for bringing us along.

Mrs English nee Trini said...

Pudding is amazing!! At least how Trinidadians make it... ;)

Wendy said...

Interesting on how the English influence, reserve and all, is the most strong here. Do you know why?

Fly Girl said...

Lola, thanks, I always appreciate a photographer's opinion.

Miss Trini, thanks for dropping by.I think all islanders think their pudding is the best!

Wendy, the British were colonialists in Barbados for a long time, until the mid 60s. Other British territories like Jamaica and Antigua also didn't get independence until then but they also had other colonial powers like the Spanish and French. The British had uninterupted influence on Barbados for centuries.

Amanda said...

I'm looking at the snow around me and am currently dying. I wish I could travel into the photos. Cheaper than air fare.

Ebony Intuition said...

"Barbados is certainly the most English island of the Caribbean"

Got that right, that's exactly how my family is very english lol..

Fly Girl said...

Amanda, thanks for visiting. I'm covered in snow as well and the photos aren't helping me at all!

Ebony,How does and English/Caribbean family survive in Toronto?

Ebony Intuition said...

Well in Toronto there's a very large Caribbean Community here. I was just asking my mom about the transition when she moved up here and it was a bit difficult.

1. Dealing with the winter/cold, I still ask my mom till this day why she didn't move back after her 1st winter she laughs all the time.

2. Looking for jobs because the Canadian government recruited tons of people from the Caribbean, but they weren't always granted the positions the government claimed to be giving out.

One thing that I really don't like about the school system up in Toronto is that tons of children from the caribbean are actually a few grades ahead in terms of education but they would put a child back 4 years. Im not sure if they still do that anymore but that happened to a lot of people i know.

Other than that the community has grown which makes it easier now for people still migrating to Canada to transition.

Fly Girl said...

Ebony, Toronto is actually one of my favorite cities, I considered moving there but just couldn't bring myself to relocate to a place colder than Chicago! I had no idea that the gov recruited many of the Caribbean citizens! I just thought they came for Caribana and stayed, LOL! Seriously, I thought that Canada was just another alternative for the former British colonies. I know that Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados have very strong school systems, I can't understand how these students would be held back in Canada. I'm glad that the community is influential enough now to challenge issues like these.

Ebony Intuition said...

"I know that Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados have very strong school systems, I can't understand how these students would be held back in Canada. "

Exactly, but it has happened.

" I just thought they came for Caribana and stayed, LOL! "

Lmao speaking of Caibana I have a picture of my mother , grandmother and great granmother and my sister when she was young at the Caribana Parade circa the early 80's.

Yup they recruited a lot back in the days I don't think they do that anymore though.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Barbados, actually went to primary(elementary) school in Speightstown. Looking at these pictures brought back so much memories. Yes Barbados does have the British influence due to the fact that its always been British from the time it was discovered unlike some of the other islands.So the people are British like with their mannerisms. Great place for kids to go up.