A Trip to the Beach

A Trip to the Beach

4.1 21
by Robert Blanchard, Melinda Blanchard
     
 

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This is the true story of a trip to the beach that never ends. It's about a husband and wife who escape civilization to build a small restaurant on an island paradise -- and discover that even paradise has its pitfalls.See more details below

Overview

This is the true story of a trip to the beach that never ends. It's about a husband and wife who escape civilization to build a small restaurant on an island paradise -- and discover that even paradise has its pitfalls.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
To those weary of the rat race, the prospect of moving to a tropical land and opening a bistro sounds like a dream: balmy weather, blue skies and not a care save for which number sunblock to wear. Melinda and Bob Blanchard couldn't pass up the chance to live out that dream, and their resulting adventure is recounted in this prosaic memoir, presented as a slim volume narrated by Melinda. These two Vermonters, burned out from their ownership of a specialty food company, impulsively decided to go out on a limb and move to the Caribbean island of Anguilla to open a restaurant. Upon their first foray into negotiations with the locals, they nearly scrapped the plan and returned home, but perseverance and their own acceptance of "island time" customs helped them to stick it out. The authors tell of the obstacles involved in launching a business in a place where goats crossing the road can be a town's major daily event. Chapters relate typical issues of negotiating rent, finding building supplies and locating such ingredients as free-range chicken and baby squash, always ending in a sigh as the restaurant staff wraps up yet another fabulous night at Blanchard's. Despite a moderately gripping third section that details a fierce hurricane, the action moves along at a languid pace; even with the inclusion of some savory recipes, this bland tale lacks an original and appealing hook. Author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Following their dream, the Blanchards sold their specialty food business, Blanchard & Blanchard, and moved to a favorite Caribbean vacation spot, Anguilla. Here is the story of how the couple ended up running a successful restaurant on Anguilla that is frequented by celebrities. The narrative vividly describes how they set up the restaurant, now simply called Blanchards, from signing a lease, receiving work permits, and trying to locate building and food suppliers to the nervousness and near disasters of the first weeks of business. In one case, the local laundry service marked all of their table linens with black marker to distinguish them from those of other locations, requiring immediate and expensive replacements. Mouth-watering descriptions of old and new recipes that have made Blanchards a popular dining spot are mingled with descriptions of their neighbors, the climate, and their activities. Absorbing and well written, this is most suitable for public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/00.]--Alison Hopkins, Queens Borough P.L., Jamaica, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Kirkus Reviews
A you-gotta-hand-it-to-'em story of building a new life and business in a foreign land that sinks in a quicksand of logorrhea.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781587883286
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
09/28/2001
Edition description:
Abridged
Product dimensions:
4.38(w) x 7.22(h) x 0.65(d)

Read an Excerpt

From the air Anguilla looked narrow, flat, and scrubby, but that was only part of the picture. In my mind, I saw the real Anguilla: sea grape and crimson flamboyant trees, women steadying pails of water on their heads, sand that might have been poured from a sack of sugar, the cool terra-cotta floors of the Hotel Malliouhana. The sunshine alone was enough to make me smile. Stepping off the plane, I felt the breeze from the east, scented by the hibiscus that grew alongside the terminal. Those cool currents made the sun seem unthreatening. Poor Bob, with his fair complexion, would be pink in a matter of minutes.

In Anguilla it is customary to greet everyone with a courtly "Good morning" or "Good afternoon." As we approached the young woman at the immigration counter, we were greedy enough to hope for more. We'd seen her many times on our visits to the island. We wanted to be recognized, to be told that we were different from mere tourists—connected.

"Good afternoon," the young woman said, smiling. "Welcome back." Anguilla had begun to cast its spell.

As our taxi made its way westward—slowing for potholes, speed bumps, people, goats—I counted the ways I loved this little island. Unlike its neighbors, Anguilla (rhymes with vanilla and pronounced Ann-gwilla) had no casinos, no duty-free shopping, and no cruise ships. Visitors here looked for less, not more. They tended to arrive one or two at a time and not in packs. Their intentions were simple: to walk on the beach, go snorkeling, read a good book, take a dip in the water. They'd found a place where handmade signs beckoned them to Easy Corner Villas,Sandy Hill, and Blowing Point. Drawn to this tiny British outpost only sixteen miles long, they appreciated the rhythm, the balmy pace. Little schoolgirls in handmade uniforms skipped along the road, holding hands.

The idyllic life on Anguilla isn't an illusion manufactured for tourists. The island's standard of living is higher than its neighbors'. No gambling means no gambling problems. Limited work permits for outsiders ensures plenty of jobs for locals. This is a country with no taxes, where a dollar earned is an actual dollar. There is no unemployment, and eighty-five-degree temperatures with sunshine almost every day. Life is good.

There are several world-class hotels on the island, all criminally luxurious. Over the years we had alternated between them, savoring their brands of exquisite tranquillity. One, Cap Juluca, boasts villas with Moroccan-style domes, and bathrooms so vast that they have their own gardens. Another, Malliouhana, was created—and is lovingly cared for—by a retired English gentleman whose lifelong dream had been to preside over such a hideaway. Here life is serene, with white stucco arches, ceiling fans that seem to lull away one's cares, and a breathtaking view of the clear turquoise water from the top of a cliff.

Our taxi driver, Mac Pemberton, had driven us around the island many times, but that day was different. He had called us in Vermont with urgent news. We had spoken about opening a beach bar in Anguilla, and he had promised to help find us a spot. Now he had scheduled a meeting for us to meet Bennie, the landlord of an abandoned restaurant.

It wasn't a notion from the blue. Many years earlier, when Jesse was five, Bob and I had taken him to Barbados, where we'd spent a wonderful morning hunting conch shells and building an enormous sand castle complete with moat. By the time we finished we were ravenous, but there were no restaurants in sight. So we set off down the beach. We were all three healthy and brown with sun; even Bob had gotten past the sunburn stage. Jesse danced in and out of the surf, laughing at nothing and everything. I felt preposterously lucky. A good meal would complete the experience.

After about a mile we spotted a picnic table. A short distance away was a man leaning back in a beach chair, his feet propped up on a giant cooler, his head buried in a thick, tattered paperback. Above him was a small thatched roof with a blackboard sign.

HAMBURGERS—$10.00

LOBSTER—$25.00

BEER AND SODA—$4.00

It was like finding a lemonade stand in the middle of the desert. We stood in front of the man and smiled expectantly, but he must have been intent on finishing his page, because it took him a minute to acknowledge us. When he was ready, he slowly swung his feet off the cooler and looked up.

"Hungry?"

Jesse was the first to respond. "Starving. What do you have?"

With his head, the man gestured at the menu on the blackboard. He seemed eager to get back to his book, which I saw now was Moby-Dick. After a hasty conference, we ordered three burgers, two Cokes, and a beer. We handed him a wad of bills and in return received our drinks, three raw hamburger patties, and a long pair of tongs. Then he motioned toward a fifty-five-gallon oil drum that had been cut in half lengthwise with a torch, propped up on several lengths of steel pipe, and filled with hot coals. We realized we were about to cook our own lunch.

"We just paid forty-two dollars for a lunch that must have cost that guy five bucks," said Bob, standing over the grill. "And we have to cook it ourselves." His grumbling was mixed with admiration.

One bite was all it took to change our mood. "This is the best hamburger I've ever had," Jesse declared. We all agreed.

I marveled at the ingenuity of the setup. A secluded spot, sand like flour, customers arriving in bathing suits. The guy barely lifted a finger, cleared at least $35, and gave us a lunch we'd remember forever—an experience that seemed to me to rival the best white-tablecloth meals we had eaten in Paris. The man reading Moby-Dick had sold us a frame of mind.






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