Another month has passed, and here we still sit. The BVI has lifted the lockdown and is slowly starting to reopen businesses…. except hotels and entertainment facilities. We are waiting with baited breath to be able to at least welcome BVI residents for a staycation. Fingers crossed that will happen soon.
In the meantime we have been keeping ourselves busy as much as possible.
Lime Tree has a patio AND stairs now. So nice to be able to forego the ladder. The bathrooms are tiled too. It really is starting to come together.
Tina’s house is also speeding along. Tina and Michelle spent almost and entire week looking for kitchen and living room light fixtures. Good thing they don’t have actual work to do! They had their eye set on a Mother or Pearl wall sconce … not only was it really pretty, the irony of Tina having something called “Mother of Pearl” in her house tickled everyone’s funny bone. (Think about it…!). In the end they couldn’t find the right shape or size in that finish, but managed to find something affordable and pleasing to the eye. And if one day they come across the right size and shape scone in Mother of Pearl, they can always be replaced.
After they tackled the light fixtures, the push was on for the pool. Tina and Michelle have actually been designing a pool for Tina’s house for over 20 years. All it took was two grandsons to give the final push. The foundation is already starting to be formed and steel is being laid for footings. Given the tight space they are squeezing the pool in, the poor guys are having to dig the footings by hand. The ground is really solid so instead of a shovel they have had to go at it with a jackhammer. Best to get the loud work done while we are closed right?!
Not sure if they crew wanted to keep Tina and Michelle busy, but they have also requested exterior paint so they can begin painting the back of the house. Tina and Michelle thought they had it selected already, but came to realize the original color they picked would be too light. Back to the color swatches again! You would think it would be easy to find a beige color…. think again! Smokey taupe, Cedar Key, Hot Spring Stone, Balboa Mist, Dusty Road, Dusty Trail… the list goes on! It took four days to narrow down the different varieties enough to order five samples. The paint needs to match the pickled white tongue and groove cedar ceiling, the slate grey grey shingles, the textures grey patio tiles, but most of all needs to blend into the surrounding boulders! As soon as the samples arrived Tina and Michelle were off with their paint brushes. They can now brag that they painted Tina’s house…. they just won’t specify how much they painted 🙂 . Now we are waiting for it to dry to make the final selection.
While Tina and Michelle have been making progress towards completion of one project, Ian has begun another. It was one of the most emotionally difficult projects that needed doing…. removal of the old office trailer. Here’s a bit of trailer history for you:
To get the original trailer to it’s final location back in the day, the road to Spring Bay had to be widened to accomodate it’s size. Christine and Michelle fondly remember the trailer as Granny’s house, and have wonderful memories of baking muffins and making chocolate pudding with her, and dressing up in her old clothes for “fancy” dinners of steak with corn on the cob.
Later when it was solely the office with spare rooms (Valerie lived there for a while too) the girls would do puzzles, homework and crafts on the lovely big patio which many of you will also remember. The good news is the patio section still remains and will be put to use. The new design plans include some extended storage, a new guest laundry and a new office for Ian (not that Tina will let him use it much!)
Where is Valerie during all of this quiet time you ask? She’s been more than busy clearing out her desk and organizing her house. It’s with mixed emotions that we officially announce Valerie’s retirement as of June 1. We are naturally going to miss her, but are happy she will be having more dedicated “me time” close to her Canadian friends and relatives, and all the Kraft peanut butter she can eat. It will be quite the adjustment in our office. Valerie has been part of our office family since 1993, but part of Tina’s extended family since the late 70’s when they both worked together in Toronto. Valerie is the only organized person in our office, so if you come in December and see Tina and Michelle buried under unfiled papers…. ship Valerie back! You will still get to see Valerie this coming winter, only she will be joining everyone on the beach. Save some shade under the tree for her, after six months in Canada we don’t want her to get sunburned!
Well we did it! 21 straight days of a 24 hour curfew! Oddly enough it went a lot faster than we thought it would. Everyone used their time as a bit of a staycation. Even Tina got into the groove of a siesta after lunch.
Our lockdown started with a five day “sampler”. To see if we could really handle it perhaps? Then they let us out to shop. Wow! That was a CRAZY experience. Seven hours in the blazing sun to get into Bucks Market! The entire territory had three days to shop before the first fourteen day complete lockdown. No leaving your property, no grocery deliveries, no going out for anything… period. Ian did have to get a pass a couple of times to attend to minor maintenance issues at Guavaberry, but the rest of us put our feet up.
Christine and Michelle decided it was a good time to start baking, and even better without being allowed to go out… they didn’t have to share! Focaccia, bread, chocolate cake, and Johnny cakes galore!
Tina and Valerie kept busy in the office, an added bonus of living where you work! Michelle was available for remote tech assistance in between arts and crafts, baking and naps.
The two weeks were coasting steadily along and we were counting down the days until “release day”. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch! On Saturday night, less than 48 hours before we were supposed to get out… news struck of another Covid-19 case which quickly became the first Covid patient death in the territory. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the deceased.
As the news broke, we knew there was no way we were going to be allowed out yet. And we were right… one more week added on so the government could trace the contacts of the patient.
Amazingly the government vowed that no person in the BVI would go hungry, and they kept their word. They delivered hundreds of food packages to residents all across the BVI. We were also very lucky that they granted permission for grocery stores to take online orders for delivery. With the help of countless volunteers from the general public and well-known volunteer organisations (VISAR, VGROC, Rotary, and UniteBVI to name a few) everyone was able to get what they needed.
Now, online orders in “the real world” are pretty straight forward. Go on the website and view available products and information and prices. Well, not all stores in the BVI have that set up (yet). It was like a game of roulette sending in your orders: which store will have the best stock, which stores aren’t being bombarded by orders, which have the better prices, and which will have the most of your shopping list actually in stock.
Turns out what one store didn’t have in stock, another did. It took Michelle four different stores to find the last pack of yeast on the island! The other problem with relying on someone else to do your shopping is the surprise of what you will actually receive. One bag of flour? NOPE! 2 five pound bags they thought Michelle needed! (Hence the hunt for a pack or two of yeast!). The best substitution though, that we will be laughing about for years, was in Christine’s delivery. She ordered raisins for Lennon, as they’re one of his favorite snacks. Seems pretty straight forward… you would think. Much to her surprise when she unpacked her delivery … no raisins! Well, not on their own anyway. She received Raisin Bran cereal instead! I guess Lennon will get his daily fiber intake for weeks to come!
By the end of our three weeks we were scratching at the door like Pearl scratching to get inside during a thunder storm. We are still on limitations as to which businesses are allowed to open, but we did get the boys together at Granny’s. It was the most heart warming reunion you ever saw. Connor gave granny the longest hug he could, and then turned the focus on Lennon. All morning “Lennon! Lennon come!” Connor squealed with delight. By 11:00 Lennon was exhausted!
We are still under curfew from 1 pm to 6 am daily, so we still get to have our afternoon naps. Hotels haven’t been approved to reopen yet, and even when we do, it’s going to be a hard sell since the beaches are all closed. For now, we are just going to focus on maintenance and busy work to pass the time. We miss our April regulars who would be here at this time, and it crushes our hearts to still be cancelling reservations for the summer. But c’est la vie! We can’t control the situation. We survived Irma, so we will survive this. At least this time the heaviest lifting we will have to do is a good book.
Well, to say the least, this has been one of the most mind boggling months. Going into March we were well aware of the potential effect that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) would have on reservations, but we didn’t expect a complete shutdown!
Earlier in the month guest started asking about what the situation was like in the real world, and preparing themselves for their trips home at the end of the month. Within days the cancellations started. One here and there, and then upwards of ten per day. We won’t lie, it stings! Every time the caller ID showed an overseas number we cringed.
Soon the guests in house decided it was time to get back home before things really heated up. We helped them to get flights rearranged and bid adieu to everyone. Staring at the blank reservation board we weren’t sure what we would do with ourselves. We thought we could request deposits for winter reservations, but quickly remembered that the USA is closing up as quickly as the BVI. Without an end date on site for the global situation we just have to keep our fingers crossed that the cancellations don’t push past the summer.
Fast forward a few more days, the BVI government officially closed the borders first to just non residents and non work permit holders, then a few days later they closed the borders for EVERYONE! Drastic? Yes. The right move? Most certainly. So we figured with that move we would just keep going as normal. Think again! Close the schools. What?! We swear you could hear the entire community cry out in fear… what are we to do without school? Thankfully Connor and Lennon’s daddies were gung-ho to go full on stay at home dad mode. Both Christine and Michelle take after Tina and tend to work too much.
Well, things seemed to then be smoothing out. The kids were taken care of, we dug up work for everyone to do. Got some deep cleaning done. Then they hit us again! Curfew? What, are we sixteen? Okay, cool we can reminisce on our teenage years and play along. Wait, what? TWENTY FOUR hour curfew?! Starting in TWO days? Didn’t see that one coming!
After a wide range of emotions from confused, to dumbfounded, to angry, to terrified of being forced to put our feet up, we eventually got to the point of acceptance and understanding. They say it’s only for five days, and other countries have been through much longer. So we stocked up with as much food as we would need …. side note… even the grocery stores are closed, you aren’t allowed to even take out the trash to the nearest bin, and dog walks are to be brief. Not even allowed to go to the beach. Now we all just sit and wait.
As of March 30th the BVI has three confirmed Coronavirus cases (all imported) and we are waiting on some other results to come back. We are keeping our fingers crossed they come back negative and they will release us from our cages. Until then, have no other choice but to relax.
We do deserve a bit of downtime anyway. We have been busy finishing Gardenia! Yes, just in time to have no one coming in for at least a month. Ugh, there’s the stinging feeling again.
Lime is taking this week to cure the concrete footings for the deck. So really not wasting time there we guess. We are itchy for the deck to be complete so they can finally build the stairs. Then there is no keeping Tina out! Look out guys!
We know you must have read all of that above and wondered, but where are the pictures? Sorry! Been a blur of a month as we are sure it must be for many of you too. We just didn’t get out around the property as much as we usually do, and now since we are housebound, and very law abiding citizens, we can’t run and take any! 😦
Instead, enjoy a little collage of randomness 🙂
February is the month of chocolates, flowers and love songs, but for us we prefer the music of tile cutting and sweet scent of sawdust.
Plum and lime have tiles being laid and patio foundations being formed. Soon, very soon, there will actually be stairs!
What does have stairs? Gardenia! Gardenia also has a front door, windows, tiles, bathroom, kitchen, patio, air conditioner and lights! That’s right ladies and gentleman… it’s DONE! At least the construction anyway. Just a few finishing touches to add in… furniture, blinds, dishes and utensils. We have to order a few bits of artwork still, but that won’t stop us from renting it if we need to! It’s so exciting to be one step closer to completion of phase 2!
Tina’s house is also progressing quite well. Windows and sliding doors are in! The wood for the inside of the ceiling has been taken offsite to get a coat of stain, pool plans have started to get drawn up, and the shingles are nearly on all four sections of the roof. The next step will be laying tiles… and if they aren’t careful they will find Tina “glamping” in her house one of these days. Her bed is here and she can get pretty creative on a bbq I’m sure.
February has also seen the return of many, many familiar faces. We were basically full all month which was amazing! Thank you to everyone who returned and all the new guests we got to welcome to Guavaberry. We still have a few more weeks until it starts to quiet down and we can take a breath. We will need the little break as there are some BIG changes coming this summer… stay tuned!
It was only a matter of time before the guys had to tell Tina where the ladders we to get into Plum and Lime. They finally let us in! They have made great progress despite the delay with the windows.
Speaking of windows… they are finally here!
Tina and Michelle had to be called up to the construction sites to determine where the decks should go. Of course, while they were there they added a few special touches… back decks! The guest bedrooms at both houses will each have a private deck. Perfect for escaping the afternoon sun, or having a little quiet time.
The windows and kitchen for Tina’s house have also arrived. The crew on her house are plodding along. The inside walls are plastered and they are nearly finished plastering the outside too. Shingles are going on, tiles are on site. Bathroom vanities are the latest task. Trying to match tiles, doors and vanities when nothing is stored in the same spot isn’t easy… but we are up for the challenge.
While we were out measuring for said vanities, Tina decided to peak at her roof. The Forman told Tina that she should just go right up onto the scaffolding for a better view… but I don’t think he actually thought she would! He obviously didn’t know he was talking to!
From up ladders and scaffolding, we also took some time out to dress up. Tina was invited to the grand opening of Little Dix Bay… and Michelle was the lucky one to go as her guest. There was a lovely turnout for the evening. They had opening speeches and ribbon cutting before welcoming everyone to explore the property. The gardens are amazing ! Thankfully the iconic banyan tree at the entrance is still there too. Hors deurves were plentiful, champagne was flowing… though Tina and Michelle opted for juice , and the desserts were lovely. They even ran into Lydia, who worked at Guavaberry for 12 years in the housekeeping department. It was so nice to see her again!
January is also a special birthday month. Connor turned 2 and Lennon Turned 1! No idea where the time has gone. Connor is now going to nursery full days, and is patiently waiting for Lennon to start walking so he can join him. Perhaps Lennon knows the deal and is just pretending not to know how to walk yet…. because he sure can work those two feet to get some goldfish.
Connors birthday party was held at the beach and Lennon’s was supposed to be too, but we had a massive ground sea that day so plans got washed out. Didn’t think it was a wise idea to have toddlers on the beach when the waves were coming past the trees! It was quite the show to watch though.
Within the next few weeks we are hoping to finish up Gardenia. Haven’t been in that one for a while despite there being stairs. What fun are stairs anyway?! We are ladders pros now. from what we hear all that is really left to on that one is pop the windows in, so stay tuned for a grand reveal!
‘Twas the day before Christmas, when all through Spring Bay
Tourists were waking to the sounds of a new day
The coolers were packed in the Jimny with ease
Waiting to enjoy the tropical sun and breeze
The contractors were nestled around the bar with a beer,
They finally have a break before installing windows next year;
With Tina in her floral dress and the housekeepers in their skirts,
They joyously settle into the season’s works.
When out on the beach there arose such a sight,
We sprang from our desks to see all the guests merry and bright.
Back at our desks thing are going to plan,
Yet Tina still has to wait til 5 o’clock for her Diet Coke and Cruzan.
Valerie is keeping everything neat,
While Michelle watches for guests to meet and greet.
Over at the window we see a ginger flash,
Ian and his magic plunger are headed up the hill in a dash.
The sun on his face turns him beet red,
But it gives him a lustre to complement the hair on his head.
Ricky’s truck is packed full of fresh linen bags,
Like Santa’s sleigh nicely packed by our lovely ladies wielding their magic rags.
But there is no time to dilly dally, there is still work to be done.
Tina runs a tight ship, amongst all the fun.
Now Beulah! Now Agnes! Now Junie and Netta!
On Tricia! On Sonia! On Emily and Brenda!
Sweep off the porches and place fresh flowers!
Getting these houses ready will take all their magical powers!
Pearl and Roxy are making their daily rounds,
With all the guest back, treats off the barbecue abound!
This year we are thankful the hurricanes passed us by,
And a busy season ahead is a welcome surprise!
We will greet everyone with a smile and a hug,
Thank you to all who gave us your love.
It’s now time to get back to work behind the scene,
Merry Christmas to all, and don’t forget your sunscreen!
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. We are so thankful for all of your continued support.
We are busy little bees down here. Our first taste of tourist season is in full gear now with lots of families in house. Some are even in their fourth generation visiting Guavaberry. It’s so fun to see the little kiddos playing just like Christine and Michelle used to play when they were small. Connor and Lennon are really getting the hang of it.
While everyone is at the beach, elsewhere construction is still in full swing. We are trying to get as much done as we can without windows. Shingles are going on, gutters are being hung, and I believe tiles are even being prepared to lay. Hard to really know what’s going on on the inside… ladders are not in this year’s job description for the office ladies… thank goodness! Once they have stairs going up to Plum and Lime we will give you a full update.
This coming winter you will see a few new faces in the housekeeping department. We had two ladies resign for personal reasons, so we have had to do some quick hiring. We will miss Lydia and Elsa Maria, but we wish them all the best in their next endeavors. We have already welcomed Ithea to our Guavaberry family. She comes with a wealth of experience, having worked at Valley Trunk for 30 years! We will be welcoming two more as soon as their work permits are approved. They are both from Santo Domingo so hopefully Connor and Lennon can pick up some Spanish when they start “helping out” around the property when they are a little older.
This past weekend we got to enjoy the BVI Food Fete’s “Taste of Virgin Gorda”. This is an annual event held every November. If you haven’t come down for it, you must! Amazing food, great music, a great mix of people from near and far. They had 16 chefs from the BVI, Puerto Rico and the USA. Each chef prepared a tasting plate and you got to try them ALL! Now, we all have pretty hefty appetites but even we had to tap out after about 12. Sooo muuuuch foooood! Ok, so maybe we made a couple of extra stops at the Little Dix Bay Pastry table, but she did have three selections of tarts to choose from. We are extra excited now for Little Dix Bay to open just so we can have more of those tarts!
(Photo credit BVI Food Fete)
As our luck would have it, this pastry chef’s husband is a hairstylist, and he is now working at ‘Ello Hair Studio… which just happens to be David’s (Lennon’s dad) salon. So, perhaps we might be invited to a potluck or something at Christine and David’s house. They bring the pastry chef, we’ll bring forks… sounds like a good deal to me!