Bermuda Blues

It’s time for my annual non-travel blog in which I warn of the hazards of travel and extol the virtues of staying home.   I feel it is my civic duty to make those of us stuck at home feel better, so I started this tradition last February with a post comparing today’s airport hassles with The Golden Age of Travel.   While  it’s nice to escape to someplace tropical when the Hollywood version of winter has deteriorated into dirty snowbanks and salt stained boots – sand, sea and sun await only those who choose wisely!    

Bermuda (2)

In this photo, you may see a picturesque cottage on the lovely shores of  Bermuda, an island softly kissed by warm trade winds.   It’s set high on a bluff – there’s a pink sand beach below with clear turquoise waters.   Note the striking contrast between the coral and the blue of the pool and sky.   It looks nice, very nice – everything you would expect Bermuda to be.

While I see a drafty old cottage with no hot water, banging shutters and howling winds, set on a steep cliff straight out of a Daphne Du Maurier novel.

This picture was taken the morning we left Bermuda – the only day of sun and warm temperatures the whole five days.   You never want to go to Bermuda in February – believe me.   It’s not tourist season.   While I knew Bermuda was not as far south as the Caribbean, the travel agent was definitely an optimist.  She assured us the average temperature would be 70ish – golfing weather, but it was really why-didn’t-I-pack-warmer-clothes weather.     

And you certainly never want to arrive late on a Friday, when the proprietress hands you the key to your pretty little cottage and promptly disappears until Monday.   There was no front desk and no restaurant, and it didn’t take long to realize there was no hot water either.   There didn’t even appear to be a hot water tank.   We left a message at the booking office.  (This was in the days before people were instantly available).        

 I’m not that fussy when it comes to winter vacations – give me a pool to sit beside and read my books, and a couple of shore and sea excursions and I’m happy.   Otherwise, pick an island, preferably one not too close to the equator as my hair can’t handle too much humidity.    When you live in Canada, you don’t care where you go, it’s just winter you want to get away from.  

Bermuda pic 3 (2)

We decided to check out the pool but it was hardly pool weather.  As it hovered around 50 F all week the only pool sitting was the huddled-in-layers kind.       

Bermuda pic 4 (2)There was a slightly warmer reading nook up near the Adirondack chairs sheltered a bit from the blustery breeze.   

There was no restaurant onsite, but the cottage had a kitchenette, so we treked a mile or two or five down the road, mopeds whizzing by, to a variety store, where we bought the worlds most expensive peanut butter and some white bread, plus coffee, tea and milk for breakfast…and I think there might have been a bottle or two of wine…Merlot most likely as it goes best with stormy weather.   (This was back in the days when I was able to drink a little).  

The main thoroughfare was like the Indy 500.   Dare step off the curb and you’d get crammed by a moped going the wrong way, but then I’m one of those people who can’t tell right from left.   We decided we weren’t brave enough to rent mopeds so we took taxis or the bus when our cash ran low and we were down to coins. 

Most of the restaurants were closed, but we hailed a cab and found a pub for supper.   The taxi driver informed us it wasn’t tourist season and many of the inhabitants were off-island this time of year.   Really – is that why there’s nobody around?   We had a nice meal, including a wonderfully rich English Trifle, which started my love affair with this dessert, and a very smooth sherry afterwards, (Bermuda is a British island), and thus fortified returned to the cottage immensely cheered – only to find it still had no hot water and there was no return message. 

As I’m one of those people who can’t go to bed without having a hot bath first, I decided to channel my inner Laura Ingalls and set about boiling water on the stove, (being a British island, there was a proper teapot and tea kettle), just like my pioneer ancestors – thus providing me with about three inches of tepid water, enough to wash the travel grime off, but not enough to soothe my cramps.   Luckily, when I travel I bring a whole pharmacy with me, so Motrin to the rescue.  

When we woke the next morning it was still overcast.   Turning on the radio, the weather forecast was for more of the same.   After that came the lost pet report, where listeners could call in and report their lost dogs and cats.  We got into the habit of listening to the Lost Pet Petrol every morning while drinking our coffee.   It was in many ways a charming island.   

Scrounging up enough cash for taxis was a challenge as there wasn’t an exchange place open anywhere and the banks were all closed on the weekend.   Bermuda – one of the banking capitals of the world – go figure.  (Yes, once upon a time there was no such thing as an ATM machine).   The streets of the main town were pretty but deserted on the weekend. 

Bermuda pic 5 (2)

The shopping was pricey and rather staid.   I recall there being a Marks and Spencer-like department store downtown, where I bought a soft mohair afghan in bright pink as a souvenir – which came in handy as the cottage was chilly at night, (blame the British again for the lack of central heating or rather any heating).   It also made a cozy pool cover-up.   

Pink mohair afghan

The wind howled up on the cliffs – so loud I couldn’t sleep.  There was a shutter banging loose somewhere.   It was the perfect murder mystery setting, rich with Rebecca-like atmosphere.   (In fact I think I might put it in my book someday).    

Bermuda pic 6 (2) Manderley

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again….

On Monday when the owner returned, she switched on the hot water, the tank was hidden in a separate building – hallelujah!   Never underestimate the rejuvenating power of a hot bubble bath.   But the weather continued gloomy, (did I mention it was a British island).  

We managed to find a restaurant open each night.   One evening when it was raining, I wore socks with my sandals, a fashion faux pas, but I figured no one would notice – and they didn’t as we were the only ones there.   It was like dining in your own private restaurant.    I tried duck a la orange for the first time, not something I would ordinarily order – but with perfectly crispy skin it wasn’t half bad.   Cherries Jubilee and Bananas Flambe for dessert – popular choices for high end dining back then.        

We took a flat bottomed boat out to the ocean for lack of anything better to do, and watched them feed the hungry fish.   

Tropical Fish - AMc

Tropical fish with a watery whitewash finish – Art by Joni’s mother.

It was either that or some Indiana Jones cave expedition, complete with stalactites and damp claustrophobic caverns. 

Bermuda pic 8 & 9 (3)

Bermuda pic 8 & 9 (2)                                              Where is the underground cave entrance……

We walked the beaches a lot….and talked a lot….solving all the worlds problems and our own, scheming and dreaming in the manner of younger souls.  

Bermuda pic 1 (2)

The sky was pretty in a menacing kind of way (and no it was not hurricane season).

Bermuda pic 7 (2)

It was beachcombing season….

On Wednesday, our last morning I was so overjoyed to see clear blue sky and so annoyed about going back to work with the same pale face that I sat out in the Adirondack chair reading my book and soaking up the sun, sans sunscreen. 

Bermuda pic 10 (2)

It was only for an hour or so before we had to leave for the airport, but I had on jeans with a cute white cotton top with a scoop neck and I didn’t want to get it dirty with greasy lotion The warmth of the sun felt absolutely glorious after five cool and overcast days.    

On the way to the airport the taxi driver commented how nice it was, 80 degrees and the same forecast for the rest of the week.   Really – thanks for sharing.   The plane was delayed by a few hours.  By the time we disembarked in Toronto, my skin was starting to hurt and by the next day it was as crispy as that duck skin, so red it almost blistered, all from an hour in the sun.  Stupid, I know.

Now I’m content to stay home.   However, it wasn’t all terrible – despite the inclement weather, I didn’t come back with a cold the way I normally do, just a souvenir sunburn, and some bad dreams of Manderley. 

(1500 words – next week will make up for it.)

PS.  Book of the Day:   Amazingly I found a classic copy of Rebecca, complete with pretty ribbon, at the January used book sale, a book I have not seen since high school, which begs to be re-read.  

PS.  Quote of the Day:  “There’s nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” (Jane Austen)    Especially true when winter winds are howling – pass the merlot.     

PS.   We might have missed a few things – which way to the Bermuda Triangle?   

Song of the Day:  Gordon Lightfoot – Triangle.

PS.   Have you had any vacation experiences which turned out disappointing?




24 thoughts on “Bermuda Blues

  1. Ally Bean says:

    Oddly enough we’ve been to Bermuda in late February. It was beautiful but I agree about how cold it was. One of the coldest experiences in my life was on that island, up on a bluff that overlooked the sea. We went there to see some bagpipe ceremony, froze while watching it, then went to an Indian restaurant where I had 2 shots of Jack Daniels, lunch with a small pot of hot tea–and was still cold. 🥶

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kate Crimmins says:

    I did Bermuda in February. Never again. At any time. I had to take formal dresses because in the 70’s dinner was formal. We stayed at a fancy hotel downtown. I took one raincoat and wore it all the time. It was cold. Intermittent sun as I remember but I had taken summer clothes so I was always cold. I tried the mopeds. Again, never again. Couldn’t get the hang of driving on the wrong side and was terrified of on-coming traffic. I can’t remember anything particularly good about that vacation although there must have been some things. Oh yes, I was away from work for several days.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jo Shafer says:

    As usual, your tongue-in-cheek description of a February holiday — in Bermuda, no less — kept me chuckling. Not the experience for me. One year a close friend and I took our children, without our husbands, up to Victoria, B.C., for an early summer holiday. Quite chilly, as it turned out. But the first “trial” was clearing Canadian customs without the children’s fathers, not even a written letter granting us permission to take the children out of the country. (Who ever heard tell of such a thing?)

    Second trial was trouble checking in at our hotel — not the famed Empress. Neither of us had credit cards in those days but plenty of cash and, of course, our checkbooks. The hotel didn’t want cash?! But the clerk finally called long-distance to our banks in Yakima, Washington, to ascertain that we, indeed, did have personal accounts in good standing. In the meantime, a line of tired travelers waited patiently.

    Third, costs of meal. We soon figured out that lunches were less expensive than dinners but were just as good and delightful. Everything else in Victoria was, indeed, a grand holiday for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I’ve never been to BC, only as far west as Winnipeg. BC is still frightfully expensive, esp to live there. The first time I heard of that letter from the parent requirement was in the 90’s when a friend tried to take her 15 yr daughter to Mexico for a girls vacation – you would think travel agents would warn people about things like that. That’s funny about them checking with your bank. Maybe against privacy laws today? When we were in Bermuda we intended to change our Canadian money to US which is why we needed a bank, as most of those islands are not keen on Canadian cash or traveller’s cheques. We put all our meals on the Visa card luckily.


    • Joni says:

      Thanks Anne – I can’t remember much of the story but think I might have done a book report on it in high school – English class was big on book reports back then – not sure if they still do them? So I was happy to find a copy a the book sale, as I love Cornwall and would like to visit someday – at least it looks nice on the Poldark and Doc Marten tv series!


  4. lindasschaub says:

    The howling winds on the cliffs, the lack of hot water AND weather … and it had to be nice at the end when that did you no good, all spells a horrible vacation. Even the taxi driver had to rub it in about good weather on the horizon, but, on the plus side you came home with no cold and not feeling sick like Ireland or the Windjammer Cruise … so that was one plus, but the sunburn, not so nice. I am fair and got a horrible sunburn, from an overcast day, and looked like a lobster the next day. That was before there was much hype about SPFs and zinc on your nose and protecting your skin. Ouch – it was painful. I was visiting friends of the family in Puerto Rico, in senior year for Easter vacation. They lived there for a few years and I spent that week with them. At least I burned myself at the end of the trip, not the beginning, just like you, think about how terrible that would have been. When I was young, and before age ten as we still lived in Canada, my father wanted to go camping. My mom was not in favor of it, but he was gung ho and she suggested he rent the tent and accessories to give it a try before buying all the camping equipment. So it rained the first night and the tent leaked like a sieve. That was the first and last time we ever went camping. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I would say Bermuda was in my top 3 of bad vacations, but I once spent a few days in Miami (after a cruise) where it was cold too when all I wanted was to sit by a pool. I hated camping too – we never went as a family, but had a tent in the backyard my cousin and I used to sleep in (her idea) and by 4am I’d sneek out and go up to my nice comfy bed. Re the sunburn I guess I didn’t think I would burn that easily in such a short time, but after a few blistering sunburns you get more cautious.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Camping has never appealed to me, even “glamping” but that is because I am so afraid of spiders and centipedes. Don’t care for snakes either and the idea of laying on the ground and they could be around would not be a good option for me. We ended up staying in hotels or those small individual cabins that they used to have instead of motel rooms. It was along Route 66 and I have a picture or two of my mm and I in front of the “cabin” – hope they planned for that extra expense. I never even did the camping in the backyard. My sunburn was bad too and I thought it was too overcast … now they warn you that the sun rays could burn through the cloud cover, but back then, I don’t thinks so. Those horrible sunburns where you could just peel a whole layer of skin off.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Yes, that was my intent! Also to make people feel better if they are not going south, as they are forecasting more snow next week. When I think of the money I wasted on trips south just to get away from winter….


  5. Hello! I'm Bernice. says:

    What a story!! One summer we went to the Thousand Islands and it was the year when there was floods. And it was cold and miserable. I was looking forward to boat rides on nice hot days. Instead we were bundled up and I was buying hoodies to stay warm!

    Liked by 1 person

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