Hunte’s Gardens

As you all know, I love shooting weddings.  It’s the best part of the job out here in Barbados.

When I can get away from boring things like staff wages, VAT returns and fixing the never ending tirade of computer malfunctions and machine errors, there is nothing I like more than shooting a happy couple out in the sun.  And the only thing better than that is when we get to go somewhere new.

The business we are in relies heavily on Hotel world, and so we shoot 99.9% of our weddings in the same locations.  Don’t get me wrong – the locations are always gorgeous, and we are spoilt for choice when we shoot.  With gardens, water features, sugar mills and, of course those beaches to choose from, couples are always staggered with the shots and videos they receive.  But when we get a bride enquire about a wedding somewhere new, we all get a bit giddy at the thought of some new locations and the escape from our (idyllic) norm.

So imagine our delight when Sian received an email from an expectant bride asking about us shooting her wedding at the famous Hunte’s Gardens?  It is a well known spot, tucked away in the hilly area of St Joseph and without a doubt the best sign posted attraction in Barbados.  It always tickles me whenever we embark on an adventure like this – as we invariably get lost on the bumpy back roads when signs we have been religiously following for hours suddenly disappear…but fair play to Hunte’s – they are consistently dotted around the island, leading the horticultural-hungry tourists directly to the beautiful wrought iron gates.

A narrow pathway and greeted by a nice young man, and this is the site that awaits you.

It is beautiful.

Of course, being that we are professional photographers, and that we were coming to see the site namely for the sake of research, we picked the absolute worst time to go to the gardens.  As you will see from the ridiculously hard light, we got there at about 1pm – when the sun is at both its highest and hottest in Barbados…so you will have to forgive me with the crazy contrast and reflective palm trees – but it was our day off and we wanted to make the most of it…so I just gave it my best shot.

As we wandered down the narrow, steep path, you could literally feel the trees ‘breathing’ around us.  By the time we got to the bottom of the sink hole the garden lives in, the air was heavy with humidity, and the smells were all encompassing.

Sian’s hair was glad to soak up some of the moisture too, and within five minutes it had expanded a third in volume…which gave me something to chuckle about as the sweat began pouring off my face like a scene from Airplane.

And so for the next half an hour or so, we wandered around the beautiful gardens, nattering away about the endless possibilities, accompanied only by the songs of the nesting birds above, and the wind blowing through the palms.

It really is quite a place.

Despite the crazy-hard light we had given ourselves to work with, I am fairly happy with the shots we got on the day.  But one of the hardest things I found was conveying the sheer size of the gardens.  Although the grounds are not enormous in acreage, the site is so steep, and Mr Hunte has ingeniously used every available inch to maximum effect.  I am not a fan of this shot, but Sian is, and she is my harshest critic – so if it’s good enough for her then, well, it goes up on the blog:

After a while, we started to wander back up to the old plantation house that overlooks the epic gardens, safe in the knowledge that there would be a rum punch for us at the top of the hill.  That was what the literature said, and that was how Sian had convinced me to leave the cosy AC of home to embark on this little adventure in the first place.

Sian spotted this half munched leaf – obviously a hungry caterpillar – but clearly not a Frangipanni, as the leaf has barely been touched! I love how uniform the nibbles are:

As we approached the building, we were met with the most fabulous site – a fully dressed dining table that looked like something straight out of Narnia.  The whole thing was littered with dried flowers and palm leaves – I have never seen anything quite like it.

After a lengthy discussion of just how ever-awesome this venue would be for weddings, we finally got to the top of the hill, and were met by the wonderfully welcoming Anthony Hunte – the man himself.   Comfortably reclined in a huge sofa, Anthony was deep in conversation with two other visitors – Simon and Christine.  He invited us to sit and have a rum punch, and soon we began chewing the fat.  It was a fantastic afternoon.

And just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, Anthony unleashed his jewel in the crown – the cherry on the cake for this wonderful venue.

Flora.

Oh. My. God. This dog is awesome.  So awesome that even Sian: champion of Cats – resenter of the canine and slayer of all that drool, fell for her:

Flora did what all good dogs do for the rest of the afternoon.  She did the rounds and made sure everyone was where they should be – made sure her dad Anthony was being looked after by these strangers in her house, and then when satisfied all was well, would come and demand a cuddle from her master.

I am sure I am not the first visitor, and I certainly won’t be the last to Hunte’s that has thought about kidnapping that wonderful pooch.  She really is a corker.  And my camera loved her.

By the end of the evening, we had drunk far too many rum punches, taken far too many pictures of the dog, and had been eaten alive by the pesky sand flies.  At about 8pm we finally left our wonderful host and two new friends, a quick call for a lift home and the adventure sadly came to an end.

But we WILL return!

 

 

Thanks for reading guys x

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I’m Baaaack…and so is the piano!

It has been a mental few weeks (months?!) in Barbados, and I am glad to say that we have finally come home for a few days to enjoy some much needed R & R.  Since arriving home on Friday, we have been to-ing and fro-ing between London, Chichester and Croydon, and as I write this we are preparing for a jaunt up North to see our good friends Josh and Lyds who live in Manchester, then on to see Jenny and Tom in Sheffield, then up to Wetherby with even more marvellous chums for the wedding of the very fabulous Jo and Jonny…phew!

It has – and will be crazy hectic, but we are loving being back.

A few days before coming home, I rang my big brother Ed and asked if he would mind hosting a wee get together for Easter in his beautiful house in Chichester.  A wee get together quickly snowballed into thirteen, and true to form, Ed and his fiance Mel put on a wonderful spread and did a spectacular job of looking after us.  It was wonderful to be with the whole family again – everyone laughing, joking, shouting over each other, and all that good stuff that an old fashioned family reunion commands.

After dinner, my big sister Felicity (who I have written about before) asked Ed if he would mind her playing the piano, and for the next twenty minutes I was taken back to my childhood.

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When I was growing up, I was spoiled rotten for music.  My mum and dad are massively into brass, and from a very young age the slightest whiff of interest in anything relating to a treble or bass cleff lead to a trip to the music shop and instruments being hired.  We were so lucky.  So as I grew up and ran around our then massive house, the rooms echoed with Chopin and Rachmaninoff and Mozart and Strauss…and all really quite well.  It turns out that my brother and sister were quite gifted when it came to the piano, or flute, or trombone, or whatever they turned their hands to, but the piano was the soundtrack of our house.

That, along with the raucous laughter and ever present squeals of agony as we fought with one another…but that’s for another blog.

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And I genuinely lament when Flick moved out…the house fell a little quieter as our piano duo halved.  Ed stoically carried the baton for a few more years, but the day that he packed his little Fiesta to move to Reading was the day the music died.  Thad (my little brother) is an immense musician, but alas never took to the piano – and my biggest regret in life is giving up on the lessons that my mum and dad had organised for me all those years ago.

So, imagine my joy when Flick asked that question.  Judging by the looks on my mum and dad’s faces, I think they couldn’t have asked for anything better this year for Easter.

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As always, thanks for reading guys, and happy Easter 🙂

xxx