St Lucia Coalpot: About Me Page
A trip to the beautiful Caribbean Island of St Lucia, in the cold, dark days of early February 2003. This was the inspiration, or 'middleaged meltdown' that led to me, (Farmers Wife, Mother and 3 times a Grandma, born and bred in rural Lincolnshire) and........ looking for something 'exciting' to fill the gap, left by the family all finally leaving the nest!
To think that maybe, it would be 'fun' to see if it would be possible, to start importing the fantastic clay bbq's, that had so impressed me on my Island holiday. April 2003, and a return trip,is swiftly booked! Julia, whose home is in the village of Balata , is happy to let me stay again! Moses her neighbour and friend, to help and advise me.
We drive to Choiseul , to meet Mary and her daughter Alicia, makers of the beautiful pots.
Arrangements for 200 pots, to be made asap please! The ladies are more than happy with this, as previously, they sold a few each week, at the market in Castries .
The St Lucia Coalpot Company at the Lincolnshire Show June 2005
This market is amazing! Alive with noise, pounding reggae music, laughter, banter and fun! Glowing with colour, sights and smells.... glorious fat orange pumpkin, squashes, aubergines and plantains, rainbows of peppers, huge lumpy, bumpy tomato's, full of juicy flavour. Mountains of mango's,and green coconuts, filled with sweet refreshing 'water'.
Wonderful spices...fresh nutmegs,huge and wonky ginger roots, rolls of cinnamon bark, looking like fat cigars.
Almost everyone, has a small back yard or plot, where vegetables, salad and fresh herbs, are carefully tended, the surplus, sold either in the market or by the roadside, is always fresh picked. With all this lucious bounty of produce, creating delicious tasty meals is a delightful pleasure. (got a bit reminiscent and carried away here) back to the story!!
So....... having ordered the coalpots, I also need the round metal grills, this is.. 'no problem' Moses has a 'friend' who will make them! ok...... things are moving. We still need charcoal, everyone says of course, that the local mango wood, makes the very best coals. So next, a visit to lovely Mr Charles, frail and with bad eyes, he makes a very meagre 'living' out of charcoal burning.
We buy 10 sacks, his entire stock! he's happy, but......now he has to start again. Well it's all coming together I think... just the small matter of getting it all back to Lincolnshire .
Geest Shipping, who transport Windward Island Bananas to the UK, can 'arrange' for a 10 foot container, to be waiting at the docks, ready for packing, at the end of the month. Banana boxes will be great for the packaging, foam sheets, 'sliced mattresses' from the bedding supply shop, will provide the padding needed. Well........... may as well stay on, I can do the 'packing'.
After just a few, 'little problems', rain, when the pots needed firing, John, the grill maker, always hard to pin down! we wait in the truck, on 'packing day', (we have a timed slot on the loading dock, in Vieux Fort, the other end of the Island )! He has been a 'little busy', and has not quite... finished them all, we wait while he makes 50!!!
Mary and Alicia have pulled out all the stops, 200 Coalpots, are ready to go. That's 2 trips, the truck will only take 100..... Finally, it all gets packed, a mad sweaty rush, the container's sealed, to a huge sigh of relief from me, the paper work sorted, my helpers paid, it's relax and drinks all round please!
I'm going home to Lincolnshire in the morning. Back in Fulbeck, I can hardly wait for the container to arrive, 10 days sailing, then customs have to check and release it, import duty and vat to be paid, road haulage to be arranged, it's never ending!
The time is spent rushing to get a business set up, brochures written,my photo's printed.......... Next trip!.... It will all be much easier!!! 3 Years down the line: still waiting to make a profit!! But..... it's been fantastic fun, i've done a 'Food Show' at Earls Court , and taken my pots to a Caribbean exhibition, at The Victoria and Albert Museum .
Locally, i've had a demonstration stand at the Lincolnshire Show '05 more recently, with Grandson George, as my right hand man, we've cooked at the Farmers Market at 'Jimmy's Farm'. Jimmy and Michaela are both big fans of Coalpot cooking. Michaela was recently featured in 'Red Magazine' (cooking sausages, of course) on one of my coalpots and entertaining her girlfriends.
Jim also has some really great coalpot photo's, plus barbecue tips, inspirational ideas, and recipes,in his new book 'A Taste Of The Country' see the Friends Page.
Coalpots are also available to purchase here, but check first if you really want to catch a cooking day.
(My contact details, are on home page)
So, summing it up...though there have been a few headaches, and more than a little soul searching! Was it worth all the effort?
Yes, I'm having..... The Time Of My Life!
Up-date Autumn '07
At Last!......the lovely Jamie Oliver, has used and thoroughly enjoyed his Coalpot, (sent one in my first year, to try and tempt him)...and it did! It's featured in his new book 'Jamie At Home'...on the beautiful tribute to Steve Irwin page...and also pops up, on several of the C4 J.A.H series too... see 'Smoked Beetroot a la Mr Oliver' (recipe page) sadly though 'Penguin' did not have the space!!... so alas, my contact details got edited from the 'Thank's' page... but...small crumbs do fall!
Andrew Shanahan freelance Journalist saw it, which led to a recipe in the Guardian's Monday feature, 'Canteen Culture' with hopefully more to come...! not quite ready for the big time just yet...but at least I can now see the back of the garage!!...
Up-date April '12
Fast forward to the wettest April ever! Where have 5 years gone...?
‘Coalpots’ on the back boiler for me, its family first here, new Grandkids have arrived, number 8... Immanent.
My dearest little Mother, chief encourager and supporter for my ‘Pots’...in need of ever more loving care; left us very peacefully in November.
At last, I feel ready to move on... time now to find that inspiration and motivation for my ‘Pots’ again... big decision making moment!
Do I push on...or, pull out...giving the men in my life, their chance to repeat the old favourite chant “told you it was a crazy idea”.
I think not...crazy maybe, but ‘Mrs Pots’ is still here!
Maybe a Recipe and Coalpot Journal for 2013...?
Rum at the ready...here’s to a great Bbq Summer ahead for starters!