This year’s Brydens Barbados Darts Festival attracted a record number of overseas visitors to what must be the best “holiday” venue for darts in the world and I can honestly say that both Donna and I had a ball – as did everyone else! This year my sister ( also called Donna! ) brought her husband and even though he is only a social darts players and has travelled all over the world he rated this trip as the best he has ever been on.
For the first time, we had a party of over 20 from the USA and Canada and I was able to get to know them quite well and they could not get over how relaxed, friendly and hospitable the Bajans were – something we already knew from our last trip.
This year we introduced a few changes to the itinerary – in particular, a number of opportunities for all the participants to have the chance to play me and to ask me about how to improve their game. Next year we have secured the co-operation of the Ship Inn ( just across the street from our hotel ) to enable us to stage these kind of activities during their two hour “Happy Hours” from 5 – 7 p.m. ( drinks half price! ).
A lot of people think that Barbados is an expensive place to visit. Of course, if you want to eat in fancy, overpriced restaurants frequented by the likes of Simon Cowell, Wayne Rooney and Cliff Richard you will pay top dollar – but we found some great restaurants within walking distance from our hotel that provided great food and drink at very reasonable prices.
Then at the venue for the major darts tournaments, Solidarity House, our title sponsors, Brydens, were selling their ice cold Carib beers at $5 Bds for two – that’s about 85 pence per bottle. They also distribute Dewars whisky and Grey Goose vodka as well – so most tastes are catered for!
The players from the UK really distinguished themselves this year and took the top honours at most of the major tournaments but the Festival is not all about darts. The participants really enjoy the social programme as it allows everyone to enjoy the variety of attractions on offer.
However, mine, and most people’s favourite is the cruise on the Catamaran where we can swim with the turtles and snorkel over reefs and a wreck and see the marvellous colours of the fish.
Last year I had an unfortunate meeting with “Big Ben” the turtle. This year our party had the catamaran to ourselves and I was allowed to take the wheel without any mishaps. However, when it came to snorkelling over one reef those that had remained on the catamaran threw chunks of bread role into the sea to attract the fish. Of course, they aimed most of the bread at me and suddenly it felt as though I was being invaded by piranhas! Then one of them mistook my white arm for a piece of bread and took a nip! I cried out for help but everyone just laughed thinking I was playing the fool. They only believed me when I returned to the boat and showed them the marks on my arm!
We don’t have darts tournaments every night and all of the days are free to take up the many options available. We were looking forward to going to the races on the Saturday but on the Saturday before we arrived the island was hit by an unseasonable tropical storm which took the roof off the grandstand! However most people had plenty of time to enjoy swimming in the warm, azure-blue sea and explore the island and I also had time for a round of golf. Our team, thanks again to some very dodgy handicapping, lost on the last hole!
Norman Madhoo from Guyana deservedly earned the right to represent the region at this year’s Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship. Norman is a great ambassador for his country and the region in general. He should be able to draw on the experience of playing at Ally Pally last year and I hope he does himself justice. I had hoped to be in the draw to join him but just failed at the last hurdle in the PDPA Qualifier in Derby recently.
Barbados certainly gave me a lift and I am looking forward to re-establishing myself in the top rankings in 2011 and I had a great start by reaching two semi-finals at the PDPA events in Derby, just missing out on securing a place at The World Championships later this month.