Thinking of a holiday? Here’s an excerpt from Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me to get you in the mood…
“By heck, this is the life!” Hattie tucked her bag into a storage area as a stewardess placed a glass of champagne and a packet of savoury snacks on a table between their seats.
“Ah, business class, the only way to travel.” Hattie raised her glass and eased into the comfortable leather surround. “How long is the flight?” she asked and rummaged around for an inflight magazine, “I think I could settle on here for days.” She tossed a cashew nut into the air and deftly caught it with a wide-open mouth.
“Don’t smudge your lipstick,” Jo said as she watched Hattie repeat the process.
“Virgin Atlantic,” Hattie read the headline, “that’s us – two virgins crossing the Atlantic.”
Jo fastened her safety belt and breathed a sigh of relief. They’d made it to their seats with only a few minutes to spare before take-off. Hattie had lingered in the duty-free shop, oblivious to the final call for passengers Docherty and Contaldo and it had been a frantic rush to get to the boarding gate.
“What time are they serving dinner?” Hattie asked as the stewardess reached above their heads and closed the overhead locker.
“I think they might want to take off first,” Jo smiled at the pretty girl in her tailored red uniform.
It had been a frantic dash to get to the airport. Jo had hoped for a leisurely journey but Hattie had thrown a last minute panic and insisted on repacking her cases, adding five more outfits that Jo had never seen before. Combined with Hattie’s need to have a cooked breakfast, “For the journey, you don’t know when we’ll get fed again…” they’d left an hour later than planned. Pete had offered to give them a lift and as he was collecting Meg that morning, it made sense to accept. He’d arrived in his Mercedes saloon and stared at the mountains of luggage on the driveway at Kirkton House.
“How long did you say you’re going for?” Pete asked.
“It’s all Hattie’s,” Jo replied as she placed her solitary case in line and wondered how on earth it would all fit in.
“I’m not sitting with that scruffy mongrel!” Hattie threw herself onto the front seat and slammed the door. She lowered the window and glared at Meg who was sitting morosely by the suitcases, her head nudging Jo’s legs as Pete began to load bags into the car.
“You look like one of the Beverly Hillbillies,” Hattie said sarcastically as she watched Jo clamber into the back and squeeze next to Meg, amidst mounds of luggage. “Barley sugar?” Hattie reached for a bag of sweets, deep in the depths of her bulging handbag.
Relieved that the cases were safely stowed, Pete slid into the driver’s seat. “I wish I was coming with you, lasses,” he said as the engine roared into life and he pulled onto the main road.
“Well I’m very glad you’re not,” Hattie replied rudely, “we don’t need a chaperone where we’re going.” She turned and gave Pete a salacious wink, “Ever thought of opening a kennels when you retire?” Hattie nodded towards Meg, who’d snuggled on Jo’s knee.
Jo put her arm protectively round the dog.
“Let’s just hope that the good folk of Barbados understand your warm Westmarland wit and humour,” Pete commented wryly as he took a barley sugar and began the journey to Manchester airport.
The plane took off and Jo and Hattie were finally on their way to Barbados. With eight hours to kill, Hattie fiddled about with the inflight entertainment. Jo turned her head and ignoring Hattie’s fumbling and cursing, stared out of the window. The plane had risen steeply and now levelled off to cruise above the clouds, where a deep blue horizon stretched as far as the eye could see. She sipped her drink and wondered if she was dreaming? Was she really going on a Caribbean holiday as a single woman? After a lifetime of being escorted by a man, this was something that she had never imagined and the thought filled her with anxiety, even with Hattie’s company. How Jo wished that her beloved John was here, holding her hand, and for the zillionth time she wondered if the pain of loss would ever ease.
“These bleedin’ earphones don’t work!” Hattie punched wildly at her control panel.
“Have you tried plugging them in?” Jo asked and taking the wires from Hattie’s fingers, connected the sound.
“Ouch!” Hattie shouted as the opening music to a feature film blasted her ear drums, “Get us another drink Jo – I need to steady my nerves before I start watching, Twelve Years A Slag.”
Jo closed her eyes and smiled. Whatever would she do without her friend? Hattie was like sunshine on a rainy day and Jo had a feeling that this holiday was going to be eventful. Was Hattie ready for Barbados, but more importantly, was Barbados ready for Hattie?