It’s winter, Jim, but not as we know it.

For little Chester: who loved all the seasons.

It’s winter! Apparently. But it sure as beans doesn’t feel like it; well most of the time… As I write this one of our anniversary plans, a two hour horse ride across the east coast and down to the beach, threatens to be called off as forecasts predict a weekend of bad storms.

In general though, it rarely looks reminiscent of the winter I am accustomed to. The Barbadian sun rises early and promptly each day and hangs around until 6ish, when it finally calls time on the day. The days don’t get shorter, nor the nights longer. But as the tropics exit their rainy season and transition into winter, volatile and unpredictable skies lie in wait, and out of the bluest yonder, lightening storms emerge from nowhere, making the tropics a fickle place indeed.

Yesterday I was mid swim in the Caribbean on my usual 4 o’clock ‘work’ break (probably more accurately described as just a 4 o’clock swim), when I noticed a rather menacing cloud gathering on the horizon. Within just a few seconds and without warning, lightening forked ferociously at the sea making for an impressive, if not somewhat unnerving, display. The sky either side remained a striking azure blue, unspoiled by the self-contained storm. I watched the lightening for a few minutes before questioning whether or not hiding in water during an electric storm was such a prize-winning idea. I know that ideally you aren’t supposed to dry your hair whilst in the bath in a desperate attempt to shave time off your morning routine, and wondered if the same applied to a highly charged electrical storm piercing the biggest bath of all.  Not wanting to be a Guinea pig in my own trial, as the storm closed in, I made a sharp exit out.

As someone born into a country whose seasons change dramatically (though summer often parades around as winter), and where the daylight hours shift throughout the year, inhabiting a country that has two only seasons and no change in daylight hours is remarkably disorientating. One thing I definitely take for granted back home are the wonderfully long nights that accompany the summer days. Here in Barbados the sun, irrespective of the season, slopes off below the horizon around 6pm each day. Although it makes for some breath-taking sunsets, you can’t help but feel cheated out of several more hours lazing in its beams.

The rainy season is as its name suggests, though the relentless heat and humidity don’t let up and frequent power cuts occur across the island as the storms rage on. Fortunately, Barbados sits off the main Atlantic hurricane belt and is only affected by anything serious approximately every 26 years, with hurricane Tomas being the most recent in 2010. Tomas passed through just 20 miles to the south of Barbados, with wind speeds of 63mph. Although there were no reported deaths, an estimated cost of $17million dollars in damage was left in its wake.

Like the old proverb states, every cloud has a silver lining. The silver lining here being that the worse the weather is during the day, the more magnificent the sunsets.  Well maybe taking hurricane weather out of the balance, though I’m sure you get some pretty clear views of the sunset from your now completely open-plan abode.

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By the end of November, Barbados will have completed the rainy season, which lasts from June till November and moved into the dry season, seeing a drop in temperature and a significant reduction in humidity. This will be a huge blessing at the very least to my hair, which is an absolute write-off. I can’t even bring myself to touch it and avoid mirrors with vampire like deftness. Fans of Friends may remember Monica’s ‘Caribbean hair’, well, mine is far worse. They probably couldn’t even braid it. If I wasn’t so convinced that a fairly unattractive skull lurked beneath, I would have the gardener take the take the hedge trimmers to it.

Well, I need to go and chill some champagne because as anniversaries are a great unquestionable excuse to do exactly what you would do every day in a world with no judgement, if I’m not riding in the morning, I’ll instead be getting good and drunk on champagne from dawn till dusk.

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