Post date: Oct 21, 2008 6:09:20 PM

The small cove was called Wood Fancy Beach on the old map. A huge mobile home was placed on the cliff. Beneath the cliff, in a cove, on the beach was an old Carib cave. The Caribs left tools and tables carved into the coral stone. North West of Wood Fancy is a place called Long Beach where there was a large Amerindian settlement. That coast was one of the first stops from a rowing expedition south and in high winds Wood Fancy was the first easy cove into which to drift. It was out of sight on the coast, a quarter mile from the plantation house, down a hill halfway between the plantation and the gun-site. The beach was down the path through the cliff. Located on the Southern tip of the island, the water was calm only for the odd time in September and July. The waves wash the beach, which is as a collecting centre for Japanese buoys and sea eggs spawn off shore; lobsters lurked further out on the reef and we fished off the cliffs. The older fishermen passed along the rocks and descended to the beach on the path from Long Beach, whch curved down to the sand. We dove for lobsters with a crocus bag in lobster season and to dive for sea-eggs in sea-egg season we used the maypoles which the fishermen kept on the beach.

“How you could do me that, Mummy?” My son moaned. It was his birthday party. He did not take to the idea that I had planned to serve only healthy fare.

His good friend, my old school mate’s second son, had slept over. The boys disappeared early, doing what boys do on a compound* of many acres where the nearest house is one mile to the north-west or three miles to the east. Penny Hole Beach was two miles away and the caves where the horseshoes grew. The shooting range was always there to find empty shells and to inspect the targets. The out building and the big guns were a boy’s paradise. An hour or two before the party the two boys returned to the caravan. They were happy to see the huge container of ackees.

“What have you there? Are those detonators?’ Faces turned white and stomachs dropped into intestines.

“We brought these up from the gun site.” The boys said.

The gun referred to was the longest firing gun in the world as recorded by the Guinness Book of Records, and the site a mile away on the project.

“Give me those detonators gently, hand me all, one by one.”

The boys were scared, wide eyes and handed over the detonators. It was an agonizingly slow walk along the two hundred yards up the rock road, detonator in hand in the sun to the main building. One of the ammunition bunks had been opened, the detonators left in the open and the boys had helped themselves. They played war with them for the whole morning. When my classmate and her husband arrived the boys and I never said a word.

* High Altitude Research Project/Space Research Project at Paragon Barbados. Ed.