Trip To The Beach:living On An Island

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Press: Isis Large Print (January 2001)


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.
It's a story filled with calamities and comedy, culinary disasters and triumphs, and indelible portraits of people who work in a place where the rest of the world goes to play.
It's about the maddening, exhausting, impossible complications of trying to live the simple life - and the joy that comes when you somehow pull it off.

From Publishers 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 Reed Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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.-DAlison Hopkins, Queens Borough P.L., Jamaica, NY Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The Blanchards, husband and wife, operated their own specialty-food company in Vermont, and after several vacations on the Caribbean island of Anguilla, they realized that "one of the most enviable Anguillian traits is the innocent ability to relax." Wanting to take advantage of the fact that stress is not an Anguillian concept, the Blanchards decided to open a restaurant on the tiny island paradise. 
For a while, though, it looked as if their endeavor was going to be living proof of the old axiom: be careful what you wish for.
The restaurant they bought to remodel was "a disaster." Building materials had to be brought from the U.S., as did all the kitchen and dining room equipment, and staff had to be hired and a menu devised.
And once the restaurant was open, there was a devastating hurricane to contend with.
But all's well that ends well, for recently their restaurant was given an award of excellence by a wine connoisseur magazine.
Their experiences make delightful armchair reading.
Brad HooperCopyright © American Library Association.
All rights reserved

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"a lovely, sassy book full of warmth" Daily Telegraph

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

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.
It's a story filled with calamities and comedy, culinary disasters and triumphs, and indelible portraits of people who live and work on a sliver of beauty set in the Caribbean Sea.
It's about the maddening, exhausting, outlandish complications of trying to live the simple life -- and the joy that comes when you somehow pull it off.
The story begins when Bob and Melinda Blanchard sell their successful Vermont food business and decide, perhaps impulsively, to get away from it all.
Why not open a beach bar and grill on Anguilla, their favorite Caribbean island? One thing leads to another and the little grill turns into an enchanting restaurant that quickly draws four-star reviews and a celebrity-studded clientele eager for Melinda's delectable cooking.
Amid the frenetic pace of the Christmas "high season," the Blanchards and their kitchen staff -- Clinton and Ozzie, the dancing sous-chefs; Shabby, the master lobster-wrangler; Bug, the dish-washing comedian -- come together like a crack drill team.
And even in the midst of hilarious pandemonium, there are moments of bliss.
As the Blanchards learn to adapt to island time, they become ever more deeply attached to the quirky rhythms and customs of their new home.
Until disaster strikes: Hurricane Luis, a category-4 storm with two-hundred-mile-an-hour gusts, devastates Anguilla.
Bob and Melinda survey the wreckage of their beloved restaurant and wonder whether leaving Anguilla, with its innumerable challenges, would beany easier than walking out on each other.
Affectionate, seductive, and very funny, A Trip to the Beach is a love letter to a place that becomes both home and escape.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

"A Trip to the Beach is the next best thing to being there. 
The Blanchards have given us a smart and amusing tale of running off to chase a dream.
It's just as tasty as their cooking."-- Tom Brokaw, Anchor, NBC Nightly News"If you think it takes courage to open and operate a fine dining restaurant, just try doing it the Blanchard way.
Pick a beautiful but remote island with cultural idiosyncrasies, build it from scratch, make it seasonal to assure up and down business, and subject yourself to the most powerful hurricanes Mother Nature knows how to create.
Other than that, it's easy.
I love the Blanchards' determined sense of hospitality and appreciate the rich texture they have woven into Anguilla's colorful fabric."-- Danny Meyer, Coauthor, The Union Square Cafe Cookbook

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Married for nearly thirty years, Melinda and Robert Blanchard divide their time between Norwich, Vermont, where they built their own home, and the Caribbean island of Anguilla, where they operate Blanchard's Restaurant. 
Together they have started eight businesses, including Blanchard and Blanchard, the award-winning line of specialty foods.
Bob is a seventh-generation Vermonter and Melinda was born and raised in New York City.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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--$10.00LOBSTER--$25.00BEER AND SODA--$4.00It 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.
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.From the Hardcover edition.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From AudioFile

Walking away from one's home in Vermont to open a restaurant in Anguilla sounds both frightening and fascinating. 
But husband and wife team Melinda and Bob Blanchard took the plunge.
Melinda gives a delightfully honest account of their struggles to open and manage a restaurant on an island that has very little of what is needed to accomplish the task.
Overcoming near impossible circumstances with restaurant supplies, employees, weather conditions, and demanding guests, Melinda discloses the love they discovered for Anguilla and its inhabitants, as well as the deep happiness and satisfaction they found in achieving their dream.
© AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Comment List (Total:16)

  •     A wonderful story, its not as easy as one would like to believe, moving to the islands. It took a lot of hard work and determination.
  •     It was a little difficult to follow who's voice it was in because it is written by both the husband and wife. However, a fun read.
  •     Caribbean vacationers who have ever wondered what it would be like to sell everything and operate a business on their favorite island retreat will find satisfaction in this easy going account of a Vermont couple who move to Anguilla. Anguilla is a sixteen mile long thirty-five square mile patch of land at the northern end of the gentle crescent of islands in the eastern Caribbean nestled close to the flashier and better known St. Martin. Here on this quiet island the Blanchards arrive with their life savings and a dream to open a restaurant. Their story is about the embrace of the gentler life rhythms of this special island paradise. For the Blanchards the secret of "island time" is a life of breathing deeper and walking slower. Along the way we meet the locals against a background of palms, bougainvilleas, frigate birds, blue skies, and sandy beaches. We follow the Blanchards during the holidays, a local election, a demanding wedding celebration, summer boat races, an employee's dismissal, a break-in, etc. Occasionally we are treated to a recipe, for example, banana bread or better yet, "banana cabana"! The gentle trade winds that are the text of this impressionistic account build to a natural climax - a direct hit from Hurricane Luis (1995). Stow this paperback in your carry-on bag for quick relief while you wait impatiently to board your fight to the island paradise of your choice.
  •     A great book once the reader gets past the inordinate professionalism of the author. The tale of these entrepreneur's escape to paradise was quite an eye-opener, and I became completely vested in learning whether or not their business venture in the islands would pay off or break them forever. This was my third read of 4 books on the islands and found myself captivated and enjoying the book and stories immensely. Once the book was done I missed the retelling of conversations in the island dialect captured by the author on a number of recounts. A blessing to me, I would recommend it to the business-savvy and the casual-interest-reader. Truly a marvelous story unfolded in its pages.
  •     I was skeptical about this book, so I got a free sample for my Kindle. Within 10 minutes I was purchasing the full version!I am a lover of a good beach book, and have read a few lately that fell quite short. Not this one, I LOVED it!This is a fascinating story, written in an intriguing, relatable and interesting style. The Blanchards are truly fascinating people, and I have found myself desperately pondering planning a trip to Anguilla, JUST to eat at Blanchard's.The story is told, just like that..a story. Could have easily been interpreted as fiction had I not known it was a true story.The setting is obviously amazing, and she does a GREAT job of bringing it to life! You can almost feel the tropical breezes, and hear the palms swaying. The characters are brought alive and you feel like you personally know each of them by the book's end.I have been to all of the islands that neighbor Anguilla, and she made me feel like I had just taken a vacation. This was one of those books that you looked forward to snuggling up with, instantly transprting you...where you find yourself trying to carve time out of your day just to read.You will not be disappointed with this one!
  •     Great read. Love the writers very descriptive style. Hopefully one day we will follow suit. Wish there was a sequel.
  •     Angilla was a small sleepy island when I knew it 1966-1971 before tourism. Very nice folks there. I thought though it was a part of the BVI.
  •     This is a wonderful book about a couple who move to the Caribbean and open a restaurant. The book gives you an idea of their struggles and the characters are enjoyable.
  •     I really enjoyed this book especially since I plan to move to The Caribbean soon
  •     Fabulous book! I read this book after I returned home from my honeymoon in Anguilla & I loved it! ❤️
  •     I too agree, they may have worked hard at the restaurant but there is no mention of owning other restaurants before, "Blanchards".Melinda Blanchard has the reader believe that she is a complete novice in the restaurant business and reads cook books and magazines to help her cooking, I also believe they now have "self help" books out there, all fine and dandy but the money they had to start has all to do with the opening of a restaurant.I too followed my dream and moved to a tiny Island, (which I will not mention as this island is truly paradise and we like to keep it this way) the only way I could "follow my dream" was by working very hard at my business and being lucky enough that my business can support me.Island life is very laid back but can also be very expensive, living on an Island requires hard work or hard cash or both!What I did like about the book was overshadowed by the references on the large amounts of cash they spent and the true details they chose to omit.If I were a writing a book about "my Island" I would certainly change the characters names to protect their identity, I would probably change the Island's name to protect It but then I am not the owner of a restaurant!
  •     If you remember the Tom Hardin song "Got The Urge for Goin'" This book settles that itch on a coldwinter's day and you wish you were in the tropics.
  •     I really enjoyed this book. We have been to Anguilla several times so can relate to places and the good people they refer to. We have also been to their restaurant several times and thoroughly enjoyed it. We knew the owners were from Vermont but never really knew how they came to own on Anguilla. Was really impressed with the hard work that went into getting it up and running. We would not have known about the book except for a cab driver who took us to the restaurant one evening and told us about it. We met Bob one time when we were there but not Melinda. We are looking forward to a return visit and hope to meet them both.
  •     My husband and I first learned about Bob & Melinda Blanchard while visiting Anguilla and eating at Blanchard's. What a joy to come home and find a book detailing the story of how Melinda and her husband came to open their restaurant. As I read, I could think back on my memories of the island and the spots we visited as she described them. I found the book entertaining, inspiring and informative. Melinda's writing style makes you feel like she's a good friend. Exactly what I was looking for in some leisure reading.
  •     One of my favorite books, authors, adventures ever! The writing is fabulous. The story is engrossing. And the people, oh the people, I fell in love with each and every one of you!
  •     So so

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