Monthly Archives: April 2016

Cazabon at Belmont

Belmont is a neighbourhood, just east of Port of Spain in Trinidad, bordering the Queen’s Park Savannah, the large central park located at the north end of the city. Belmont is a collection of tight lanes with houses pressed close to their front gates. It is a great place to live and be close to all that the capital city has to offer including the national Carnival that precedes Lent.

IMG_20160409_213656Belmont House in Kent, England, is the home of the Harris family. The third Lord Harris was the governor of Trinidad and Tobago between 1846 to 1853. In Port of Spain today there is Lord Harris Square and in San Fernando, the second largest city, there is Harris Promenade. He was married to a Trinidadian and their son later became a famous cricket captain of England.

I learned of Belmont House through some research done by Mrs FTF on a painter I mentioned to her some years ago, Jean Michel Cazabon. Cazabon is considered one of Trinidad’s first internationally known artists. I’ve always admired his landscapes and I had a book showcasing his work when I lived in Trinidad. It turns out that Lord Harris was a patron of the artist and owned a sizable collection of his work. Many of those pieces are now kept at Belmont House.

With the daughter in Warsaw for two weeks, we took the four-seater Mito for a round trip through Kent. There was a tour of Belmont House early in the afternoon and we were unusually on time after taking the long way around London on the M25 via Gatwick Airport. It was my silent protest to the Dartcharge and a chance to see rarely visited areas of Kent. The rain made the drive slow but the views were great as many parts of the road ran along high valley sides.

We made an impromptu stop at the Beacon restaurant. Everyone was cramped from being curled up the last two hours. The building is located atop the side of a valley that was at the time of our arrival shrouded in mist. The interior was beautiful and as we had the place to ourselves, we all enjoyed walking around taking in the paintings and other design features. The snack was tasty although it was the smallest machiato I ever had. By the time we left, the skies cleared and the view across the valley was truly restful.IMG_20160409_125140

Belmont House was cold so we kept our coats on and with Little One on my back we followed the group tour around the house. It was a tiny group and the entire exercise had an intimate air. The house is small as stately homes go and we appreciated this because we had had enough after an hour, the length of the tour. The group knew from the start we were there to see the paintings so when we got to the room with the largest collection, everyone stopped and insisted I go in first.

A full set of water colours were on display in the master bedroom. Very delicate, very beautiful. To see these views of the island in the late 19th century always creates a sense of nostalgia, especially when you recognise a location. I was allowed to stay back and take in the collection if I wanted to. I declined as I knew there were more in other rooms and the guide was very knowledgeable. I did not want to miss a tidbit.

Downstairs, just off the main entrance hall where the last Lord Harris was known to have his afternoon tea, was the best piece, View of Port of Spain from the East

Never Liked Red 911s

This Saturday the family was down to four. Our daughter is in Warsaw with her aunt and grandmother for two weeks. We took the opportunity to use the Alfa Mito and enjoy some driving around the county.
We went to a garden centre to get some soil for our first experiment with planting potatoes in used tyres. These places are well designed to provide an outing with much more than garden stuff on sale. We passed the tea room which was fully packed and focused on our list. Then we headed off to Russell Park in Bedford. It is a wonderful park with near everything a family with children can ask for.
On the way we stopped at Chicksand Bike Park. It is a relatively new facility for off roading. The quality of bikes on view there was thought provoking. There seems to be less and less difference between what amateur weekend riders use and what the professional riders compete with.
The drive took us past the Airlander hangars, two huge green facilities from where the first test flights of this modern dirigible are due to happen some time this month. Big Son has written to the company for test dates but they are unable to commit to any at the moment and advise that he joins the support club.
When we got to Bedford it was very busy around the park and as usual on a weekend, parking was a premium. We ended up next to the ice cream van at the second bridge that crosses the rowing course. You have to provide your car number plate ID when paying for parking. No passing of tickets to new drivers when you leave early! With ice creams in hand, we headed towards the popular playgrounds where all types of climbing rigs are there for children.
The two boys were absorbed in play for nearly an hour before we decided to leave. We walked along the back path of the park and came into a side street where unknown to us, the parking was free. There was a red Porsche parked in that street which caught my ear for two reasons. It was an unusual colour red, not the Ferrari Red which looks out of place on a German car but more a milky red. It was also handsomely optioned with a dark glass roof and black accents stylishly placed across its body. The car looked good.
Then we saw the front boot lid pop open and the only people within range of the car was an elderly couple looking very unassuming. The association was entirely incongruous. True enough they walked to the car, placed their recycled market bags in the front boot and got in with the greatest of ease and familiarity. It was a sight to behold.
It is difficult to completely explain what was so striking about this scene because one can think it is about the car or the couple but seeing the two come together with a utilitarian attitude was quite refreshing and in some way, hopeful. Hopeful for the achievement of a certain level of equanimity.