JAMAICA 2018 – Celebrating Dad’s 70th

Jamaica………..

Where do I start?! 

To celebrate my dad turning 70 this year, I decided to book a big family holiday to Jamaica. My dad is originally from Jamaica – he came to live in England with his family – his mum, dad and 9 siblings (sadly now only 3!!) aged 11. My uncle has a place in Negril, so we decided that’s where we’d visit – that way we’d get to see him and some of my cousins while we were there.
There was a group of 14 of us – my four children, my husband Bob and me, mysister and her two kids, my two younger siblings, my mother-in-law, my god mother and of course the main man himself – my dad! The group ranged from the youngest being my niece who is 7 to my mother-in-law who is 72.
 VNDSNV
Being such a large group I thought it would work out best to stay in an all-inclusive hotel. That way everyone would be catered for, so we stayed at the Riu hotel. My sister and I  have stayed there before, so I knew it would be perfect and it didn’t disappoint. There was honestly something for everyone – the kids loved the kids clubs and entertainment, the teenagers loved all the water sports (all included) and us adults got some well deserved rest we needed. Actually not all the adults! Bob, my younger brother who is 22 and my son 12 played tennis in 35 degree heat most days!!!!! Us girls thought they were mad, but like I said, something for everyone…………?.  The Rum was flowing and the food, oh the food…..it was incredible!! Ackee and salt fish for breakfast, jerk chicken on the beach for lunch with rice and peas, callaloo (green veg), salt fish fritters and curry goat was just an average day for me (pescatarian diet out the window for the 2 weeks!). What was brilliant about the all-inclusive was that my mother-in-law (she doesn’t like the spice)was able to have roast pork or risotto or whatever else she fancied. There was so much variety you didn’t have to eat Jamaican food everyday as I chose to. Bob was in his element – he loves Jamaican food, so he really made the most of it!!!

I really have nothing negative to say. It was just so good, I can’t believe it has taken me till my mid thirties to discover Jamaica! I can’t work out if I’m so drawn to it because it’s in my blood or because it is just such an amazing country to visit?! Yes, there is poverty in places. Yes, there is violence but I can honesty say I didn’t experience any negativity on my visits. Everyone was lovely and welcoming – I look forward to exploring more of the country in future years. I will definitely be returning as I just feel such a massive draw. I would love to see the small village where my dad was born and raised one day, which I’m sure must be so different to the England which was then to become his home. That 11 year old little boy arriving in London on a cold January afternoon in sandals and shorts – he didn’t even own a pair of trousers or closed toe shoes (why would he?!). My grandad and grandmother were so brave taking that step with their family to offer them what they felt would be a wonderful opportunity for their 10 children – such a courageous decision to make. My father and his siblings have all individually led full and adventurous lives and that is thanks to the example that was set to them at such a young age. Follow your dreams, be daring, be brave but the most important lesson which has come right through to my generation and I will be giving it to my children is that family is everything – we must always stick together no matter, where in the world you end up or what different paths our lives may take us on. We are bound by blood and nothing will change that. Each and every one of us will always be there to catch each other when we fall.

I’d like to finish this month’s blog by highlighting that although my mother was English (from an extremely middle class family – setting the scene), she was influenced most by my Jamaican grandmother when it came to bringing up her children. She learned to cook from her and also to keep an open-house, where all her children, grandchildren, in fact anyone from the family or who was a close friend of the family was always welcome and when you went to Grandma’s you would never leave hungry! My mum ran a similar house – I grew up never feeling lonely, always wanting to be at home – never trying to escape but in fact always drawing closer and bringing all my friends into my living environment – sharing the love my mum had given to me. So sadly, as most of you know, I lost my mum to cancer when I was 25 but that love, that love she shone on us, I will continue to shine and spread and those lessons from my grandmother all those years ago live on in me and my family.

I NOW REALISE JAMAICA IS MY HOME TOO……

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To see what really went down under the Jamaican sun check out my JAMAICA HOLIDAY VLOG  on youtube.

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