Quest, the Reality Show!

Easter in Barbados. It’s had a sense of determination about it. You’d catch people with this look on their face: we will have fun whilst gritting our teeth and staring into the distance. It seems like Barbados may even more like the UK than we’d thought. Like the fun here doesn’t quite come naturally. It even rained for half of the Easter weekend, a driving sort of drizzle I haven’t seen since Wales in February. We all went back to bed and felt homesick.

On Easter Monday, we hung out on the surf beach near the southern tip of Barbados, Freights Bay. What a place to surf. The clear water was full of fellow surfing sea turtles popping up like helmet-wearing sergeant majors. It was quiet too considering it was a bank holiday. Not all of us surfed though; Delphine and I aren’t much of surfers yet. I feel a sense of solidarity with her that may well be misplaced, but if she can’t do it, I won’t either. Unfortunately for her, this doesn’t extend into the times tables. I’m hot on her tail with these. Just writing about it makes me want to get out our game I brought from home where you pack socks for multi-legged monsters. You may be tempted to feel sorry for her. Don’t fall into this trap..  she usually beats me at it.

The other day when we were walking around Bridgetown, Lulu stopped in mid-traffic. She gave me a funny look. ‘I think we should have our own TV reality show,’ she said.

I looked at her in the midday heat. Family living in coastal Welsh village with severe lack of upright trees sails to the Caribbean? It could work. Two kids on board, the younger one with cerebral palsy? My eyes narrowed. Instant cute factor increase. What can I say? It’s the upsides.

‘The only thing is Lu, I’m not sure our lives are exciting enough.’

She nodded back. ‘It’s true. We need more drama.’

Yeah, drama. Even on Quest, most of the time we live around a school schedule. For the last couple of years, Lulu has attended an online secondary school, InterHigh, which is based in a small town called Crickhowell in Wales. At home, we drive through Crickhowell on the way to London via Cardiff. Once I was told off there at midnight when I let three-year old Delphine have a wee at the edge of the forecourt of the garage she was busting for while we were taking on fuel. The garage staff had just informed me smugly that they didn’t have a toilet. A garage without a toilet? Man, did they shout at me. Since then, I hear they’ve installed one. Case closed I’d say. Though I would.

Small digression aside, attending school means that Lu wakes up in the Caribbean for class. Her online school keeps a proper timetable for lessons and it’s based on Greenwich Mean Time. In their virtual classrooms, kids can write, they can talk, they can even put their video on. The teacher, of course can do the same. All these functions are controlled by the teacher. The result is that classes are just like attending real school except you’re usually lying in bed and no one is allowed to be disruptive. Well, sometimes someone can try, but it’s hard without the teacher turning your communication tools off. Not exactly a platform for the rebellious. You may as well drink tea in your jammies and listen.

School starts early. In fact, since the time change for British summer time, 9:30am in the UK means 4:30am here in Barbados. I feel bad just writing it. Every time I wake up to make coffee and get things going, I’m not sure Lulu will. But she does, bless her. I’ve discovered that it really helps too if you put some kind of food stuff in her mouth. So, most of the time this is our drama. We’re up before the roosters. Definitely reality show fodder.

I love the way that as we’ve been travelling, these teachers have come with us. By Lulu attending this school for two years, we’ve all got to know their different ways, their quirks and their many kindnesses. Kindness is never a small thing when you’re travelling. It can feel like the most important thing. Yeah, yeah, I know teachers are paid to be nice! Still, I love that Lu’s teachers want her to do well. That she has received as widespread an education as possible. As much as I can blow my own trumpet, and believe me, it is known to strike a loud and painful tone, I can’t be seven teachers in one. InterHigh allows Lulu to have the same choices as any other kid. Which, ok, is a little strange since she doesn’t live the life of any other kid. Look, I never said I get all of it right. Gut instinct is another traveller’s gizmo.


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