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And then there was one



Ben

Do you remember holidays as a child, which seemed to stretch for an eternity? Time is a weird thing, I find. How is it that days and nights move so slowly or so fast, for no apparent reason? Do you, like me, have moments when you think ‘how could that have possibly only happened yesterday – it seems weeks ago?’, time moving simultaneously so quickly and so slowly. And other times, the hours and days shift as if nothing is happening all day.

So it has been in Habour Island. I’m writing at the end of a perfect week, but suddenly I realise, waking up this morning – there’s only one day left. This time tomorrow, we’ll be boarding the little water taxi at Government Dock, back to Eleuthera, Miami, and back to freezing New York City.

I remember reading recently, perhaps in the brilliant Patrick Melrose novels that my friend Alison gave me a while ago (or perhaps it was somewhere else), about the life of a young growing child, and how each year was packed with half a lifetime’s worth of experience, so brief was the life to date, and how the summers and winters seem so long as a child because they are your first or second or third summer or winter. When they are your 41st, the perspective is different: each merges one into the other. We measure our lives in decades now. In a couple of weeks, when I’m back home, I’m off with my family to celebrate my Dad’s 80th birthday, and my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary – quite an achievement at any level…and 80 years puts a lot of things into perspective.

And so it is, in reverse, I think, with holidays. When we arrived, a week seemed a long time. Each day on the beautiful, soft Caribbean beach seemed to merge with the next. Now today is our last day, and everything is seen for one last time through a sharply focussed crystal clear lens. Today is the day we notice the tiny details. Each experience is the last of the holiday, and the richer for it.

That, for me, is the pleasure of holidays. Getting away, stopping, lying still, sleeping for hours, spending days and evenings with your best friend: these things really do change your mind, and your relationship with time. For a brief moment: the world stops, and at no time is that clearer than when there was one day left.

Immigration Bahamas style.

Home for the week, at the quiet, perfectly put-together Landing hotel.

New friends and first sunset on the balcony.

Beautiful, deserted Governor’s House… which I would like to know more about…

Inside the Wesleyan Chapel…

Perfect Brisland style. We later met the fun and fantastic Jem Clarke, an English architect who’s moved full time out here and is making it his lifework to do up the old houses like this one without wrecking them. Trickier than it sounds, and he does a fantastic job.

Jem’s next project.

My romantic side has to confess, I prefer the buildings before anyone has touched them!

Colonial perfection at the Landing. You can’t really go wrong with porches and screens and white gloss paint.

Heaven has to be close to a second gin and a game of Articulate and a sunset over the Bay, on the balcony of The Landing.

Followed by grilled lobster at Queen Conch and beers and rum at Harry Os,

and evil drunken ping pong moves from Valentina at the Vic Hum club…

…time for Church. I would say I’ve counted about 10 on the Island.

It might be true to say that the St John’s Anglican Church fete made a bit more noise than it merited (the block party went on for precisely… half a block)

Shelves at the Piggly Wiggly. I am tempted to start importing Bahamian tomatoes for sale in the shop.

The best golf carts on Brisland by far.

The elusive Valentina, who refuses ever to be photographed. She has sanctioned publication of her shadow.

And in fairness, I think the last word must go to the Ocean. Which is where, in fairness, I’m heading right now. Happy Holidays… while they last.

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