Jinnie’s Story – Book Six, Chapter Twenty

Dinner at the Continental

WorthingGooner, Going Postal

The luggage had arrived at the suite shortly after Ajay had left them and despite his saying that it was part of a butler’s duty to unpack for passengers, Jinnie didn’t fancy a stranger doing it. So, she got on with the unpacking while Paolo took the twins down to register at the Reef Children’s Club. Jenny, who was signing them up, was chatting to them and suggesting that although they should be in the ‘Splashers’ it may be a little young for them and they would be better in the ‘Surfers’ which was really for five to eight-year-olds. Activities started at 10 the following morning and the twins could hardly wait.

At five in the evening a plate of canapés arrived and shortly after the whole party gathered in the De Luca suite each bringing the canapés they had been delivered. Paolo opened the complimentary bottle of Champagne that was in the fridge when they arrived, and a happy holiday was toasted in Champagne and Pepsi Max for the twins.

As Jinnie was getting ready to go out, her mobile rang and glancing at the display Jinnie saw it was Brooke. As soon as Jinnie answered, Brooke said, “Hi Boss, I’m at the airport about to catch the overnight BA flight home. My boyfriend will never forgive me if I’m not home in time to go to his parents for Christmas Dinner. I just wanted to update you on Aunty JoJo’s. We have secured both leases, Keith says the airport site will open for the New Year trade, but there is a bit more work at Holetown, and we need to buy some equipment. I think we should promote Monica to Barbados area manager and her deputy to become manager of the ex-KFC branch. She knows exactly what to do and she and Patricia have already started staff recruitment for the new branches.”

When Brooke paused for breath Jinnie said, “Gosh you have been busy.” Brooke replied, “Well, the people in Bridgetown want to get on with things. Honestly, I haven’t had to do much. Patricia, Monica and Keith really know what they are doing. I hear you are meeting with them tomorrow and having a look around. Everything is fine, just get on and enjoy your holiday and buy a coffee and a sandwich at the airport outlet on your way home. Got to run, they are calling my flight, see you in the New Year, bye.”


Six-thirty saw the party leave the ship and stroll along the dockside, through the duty-free outlets and to the taxi pick-up point where a taxi marshal whistled up an 11-seater minibus taxi which could take them all. As they headed for the dock gate the driver asked their destination and Paolo answered, “The TT Continental Restaurant please.” The driver said, “How did you manage to get a booking there? My wife has been urging me to take her there for her birthday next week, but it is fully booked for months in advance.” Paolo replied, “I happen to know several of the directors,” and Jinnie sat in the bus chuckling.

As Paolo paid the driver, Jinnie nipped into reception where she was greeted by the receptionist. Quickly Jinnie asked if there were any cancellations for the following week and the receptionist said, “Yes, a table for two has just cancelled for 8 o’clock on Thursday. I am just about to let it go to the top of the waiting list.” Jinnie said, “Please don’t, I would like it to go to the lovely driver who has brought us from the ship. Can you reserve it in my name and send me their bill, it is for his wife’s birthday.” Paolo was just about to tip the driver when Jinnie returned. She passed the driver a sheet of paper which had her name on and said MD, TT Continental Restaurant and Thursday’s date and 8pm on it. She said, “Here’s your tip, a booking for two at 8 pm on Thursday if you show the receptionist this note, and the evening will be on the house.”

The driver was gobsmacked and as the party headed into the restaurant he called after them to please ring Central Taxis when they were wanting to go back to the ship, and he would be there to take them back. Trevor was on hand to greet everyone and showed them to their table which was in fact several tables pushed together. The instant they were seated, a waiter appeared to take drinks orders. Someone shot off to get booster cushions for the twins who were at that in-between stage, too big for a highchair and not quite big enough for a standard chair.

Before the drinks were delivered Belinda’s party were shown in by Trevor and everyone sat down, and the new group’s drinks orders were taken. Such a large party being fussed over by the waiters and management quickly drew the attention of many of the customers who were craning their necks to see who the VIPs were. The meal progressed marvellously, and the twins were delighted to quickly learn that Melissa’s two children were learning Italian, and they started chatting in it. Of course, they were nowhere near as fluent as the twins.

Because there were so many children in the party, they had an early booking, and the restaurant was by no means full initially. But as the clock ticked round to eight it was rapidly filling. It was then that Millie let out a yell and charged across the room followed closely by Willie. Jinnie realised that they had spotted their old nanny Lucia and her husband Vincenzo being shown to a table. The twins wrapped themselves around her legs and burst into rapid Italian.

Before sitting at their table, the couple came over to say ‘Hello’ and what a lovely coincidence it was them all being there on the same evening. Lucia and Vincenzo knew many of the joint party and were quickly introduced to those they didn’t know like Melissa and Steven. When the desserts arrived at the big table Lucia and Vincenzo retreated to their own table and were presented with their menus. At eight-thirty the party was breaking up and Jinnie rang Central Taxis to be picked up and was told the minibus would be with them in five minutes. As they left the restaurant Jinnie was delighted to see their collection of tables being moved and re-laid for later bookings. Lucia came across and kissed the twins goodbye and it was only then that Jinnie realised she was pregnant and quickly congratulated her and Vincenzo.

The minibus taxi dropped them back at the dock and it was two very sleepy twins who were carried through the metal detectors and up the gangway to the ship where they used their key cards to pass through security. Back in the suite, Ajay had been in and made up the twins’ big double bed and Izzy helped Jinnie tuck the twins up. Izzy said she would stay with them and watch a film on the bedroom TV if Jinnie and Paolo wanted to join the rest of the family for a nightcap.

They slipped out of the cabin to join the others in the Crow’s Nest for a swift drink before bed. It had been a long and tiring day and was already gone two in the morning UK time. Jinnie and Paolo easily found the other four and before they had even sat down a waiter was at their side to take their drinks order. Jinnie thought this was just how it should be, the outside air still beautifully warm at ten at night, the service attentive and your family around you. Penny was first to finish her drink and Dan asked if she wanted another one and Penny said, “No, I think it’s time for bed, it’s three in the morning back home and I was up early.” They were discussing meeting in the Main Dining Room for breakfast when Dan reminded them that as they were all staying in suites, they were entitled to eat breakfast in the Epicurean restaurant. Jinnie said, “OK, but I have no idea where it is.” Dan pulled out his pocket map of the ship that had been in the envelope with his key card, and they located it at the back of the ship conveniently positioned just two decks above their row of suites. As they strolled the full length of the ship from the Crow’s Nest at the extreme front of the ship, to their suites at the stern they decided to meet at eight for breakfast in the Epicurean.


Just before eight, Jinnie, Paolo the twins and Izzy met Granny and Grandpa Walsh outside the entrance to the Epicurean. They waited until eight, but there was no sign of Penny and Dan, so they decided to start before them. Jinnie had a busy day lined up meeting with Patricia and Belinda, Brian, Monica, Keith and Anderson, visiting four sites, the new offices, then she had to be back on board for 17:30. The man on the Epicurean’s reception desk took their cabin numbers, asked if they would like to eat together and would they like to be in the air-conditioned restaurant or on the restaurant’s terrace under a sailcloth awning that kept them in the shade. A quick discussion and it was the terrace, and could they have a table for nine as they were expecting two more to join them? The receptionist said that would be no problem at all, printed a ticket with the table number on it and handed it to a waiter who guided them through the restaurant and out onto the terrace.

Very quickly several tables were pushed together, and the maître’d supervised the laying of nine places. The air was warm, and a gentle breeze wafted under the awning, Jinnie said to her mother, “This is almost perfect, aren’t you pleased we convinced you to come.” A waiter distributed menus while another offered tea or coffee. With full cups and another waiter fetching glasses of milk for the twins, yet another waiter starting to take their breakfast orders, Dan and Penny were shown to the two remaining places and apologised for oversleeping. The breakfast orders appeared promptly, and the twins were quickly into their bowls of cereal and soft-boiled eggs. Jinnie said to Izzy, “This is just like their breakfast at home!”

The adults were a little more adventurous and everything from yoghurt and porridge to a full English appeared on the table and quickly disappeared into the family. Finally racks of toast appeared with butter, marmalade and jam and Jinnie groaned saying, “At this rate I’m going to go home a stone heavier.” Paolo laughed and said, “You realise there is a free gym on board.”


Jinnie scanned her cruise card at the top of the gangway and a computerised voice said, “Goodbye.” She walked down the gangway, onto the dock and followed the throng through the duty-free area and out to the area where the coaches for excursions picked up. From last night’s trip Jinnie knew where the taxi queue was and joined a short and fast-moving queue. She soon reached the head of the queue and gave the driver the address of the Trattoria Trevi (Barbados) Limited, and he gave her an odd look and set off.

After passing through the dock gates the taxi driver turned to her had said, “You know the address you gave me is not in the shopping district.” Jinnie smiled and replied, “Do you know Aunty JoJo’s Chicken Shack?” The driver said, “Everyone knows Aunty JoJo’s, the best fried chicken on the island.” “Well,” said Jinnie, “I’m on my way to their new offices.”
The driver took her straight there and charged her the local fare and not the tourist fare.

Jinnie pressed the button on the entry phone that was labelled ‘DKL(Caribbean)’ and a voice she didn’t recognise said, “Good morning, DKL(Caribbean) Limited, how may I help you?” Jinnie replied, “I have a 10 o’clock appointment with Patricia and I’m a few minutes early.” The door lock buzzed, and the voice said, “Please come in and wait in the foyer, someone will be down immediately.” Jinnie pushed the door open, and no sooner had she entered the building than she heard footsteps coming down the stairs from the 1st floor and Monica appeared saying, “Good morning Jinnie, we are all up in the boardroom.” Jinnie followed her up the stairs and into the boardroom where Patricia, Belinda, Brian, and Keith sat waiting.

Jinnie was offered coffee, but she declined having only recently finished breakfast. Patricia and Monica were anxious to show Jinnie the corporate offices and took Jinnie off on the first part of the grand tour. Belinda, Brian and Keith didn’t join them, Belinda saying she had been around the day before and that she had things to talk to Keith about. To Jinnie’s untrained eye the offices and call centre were looking good, and Monica said she understood they were ready to go just as soon as the dark kitchens were ready. Jinnie saw the office space given over to the call centre, the space now occupied by Keith’s little HQ and the area that Anderson was now using as his offices and space could expand into it if the dark kitchens took off as planned. Anderson was busy in his office at his PC and Jinnie told him she would be back for a chat after lunch.

Getting back to the boardroom Belinda and Keith were all smiles and Belinda said, “It looks like Keith’s Refurbishment will want a bit more of the office space. We have some good news; he has just been told he has won the fit-out of a new five-storey office block in the new business district out by the hospital. We have been doing the design work back in Crawley and Andrew has come up trumps once again. The client loves the design and Keith’s price came in lower than the other bidders. It’s for a big pharmaceutical company who will be moving out of three separate, smallish offices in town and combining the whole business on one site. We will be doing power, lighting, office partitions, air con, ceilings, carpets, furniture, the works, and the good news is it is worth over a £1 million. It will be by far Keith’s biggest job and without our corporate backing he just wasn’t big enough to have won the job. Keith, Brian and I will be seeing the client directly after Christmas and our friendly legal firm are already on the case.”

Jinnie really didn’t know what to say. Belinda and Keith hadn’t mentioned this project, it hadn’t come up in the Wright Refurbishment monthly reports and as far as Jinnie was concerned it had come out of the blue and she started asking questions. “Why haven’t you mentioned this project before?” She asked. Keith fielded that question saying, “Well, I didn’t think we stood any chance of winning the job. We only bid it to make my bidding operation more like Belinda’s. It was only in the last few days that it even looked possible we could win the project.”

Turning to Belinda, Jinnie asked, “Have you checked the costings?” “Of course,” replied Belinda, “My team have been on this from the beginning. We were treating it as a cooperation exercise, readying us for a run at another big job that is coming up. As I said, we didn’t think we would make the last three on this bid, but we took it very seriously to ensure we had a keen price for the next job. We went at this one as if we were trying to win it, but as the new boys bidding for a really big job on the island, we needed to get our name out there. I guess we have done that.”

Jinnie asked, “Do you have the capacity and the workers and the supervisors?” Keith answered this one saying, “Like Belinda, we always work with specialist contractors, for example, I don’t keep air conditioning engineers on my staff, but I have a tame contractor who I always work with. I have permanent staff who can turn their hand to most ordinary things like false ceilings, portions and decorating. We propose to use them to run expanded teams of temporary workers, but it is an experienced site supervisor for a really big job like this that I am lacking. Belinda has offered to loan me someone called Peter for the six-month duration of the job and he can train up a couple of deputies for future big jobs. I want to be able to oversee from a distance like Belinda does, I don’t want to be hands-on like I was on your restaurant job.”

On hearing that Peter was going to be site manager Jinnie relaxed, she knew just how capable he was. But worried a little that Belinda’s U.K. jobs would suffer without him. Belinda quickly reassured her that she had been expanding her site supervision staff for the last year or so and was happy she could cope. She added, “Peter has been having a hard time recently, his wife has left him, and I think a job out here for six months will do him the world of good. Do you remember that self-contained accommodation in my garden? Well, I think it will be the ideal accommodation for him, far better than being stuck in a hotel, and Keith knows someone who can be his housekeeper, cook, clean and generally look after him.”

Jinnie decided that Belinda appeared to have things in hand and suggested that they move on to other topics as her time was strictly limited by the 17:00 hrs all aboard time. Monica reported that what she now called the central Bridgetown branch of Aunty JoJo’s was booming. It was doing over 50% more trade than the old store, mainly because of the sit-down trade. Where the takeaway was still doing good business, the people who sat down to eat often spent more money, buying a drink or a dessert. The Rockley branch was reporting a similar experience and Patricia said that she had taken more sit-down customers into the calculations when looking for the two new stores.

Keith reported that his people had already started work at the airport, but it had taken longer to start up the project than expected because his workers had needed ‘Air Side’ security passes. He said he would talk about the two DKL kitchens later when Patricia and Monica left them, and Brian and Anderson joined them. Patricia pointed out that although the two branches of Aunty JoJo’s were trading profitably, the group was looking to at best break even for the year as it was investing heavily in the two new outlets. She added that negotiations to sell the old small outlet were nearly done and including the money from its sale on the balance sheet was what was going to save the group from having to ask the parent company for funds. Jinnie was delighted to hear this as she had briefed the TT board that they should be prepared to pump additional funds into the business as it was expanding far quicker than originally budgeted for.


The party climbed into various cars and headed to the airport to see progress. Jinnie sat in the front passenger seat of Belinda’s car as Brian had gone to talk to Vincenzo about DKL banking now that it looked like Keith was going to be busy. As they drove to the airport, Belinda told Jinnie how much she loved her holiday home. She and Brian had been on the island for about a week and Keith had completed all the work and the house had been freshly decorated. Melissa had turned her nose up at some of the furniture that had come with the house and had immediately set about refurnishing much of it. Miranda had spent the first few days of her break worrying about her Christmas parties business. But as it was so near Christmas, they had all been up and running for several weeks and leaving the last few days business in the hands of her staff seemed to be working.

Keith supplied protective equipment to the visitors and signed them in as accompanied airside visitors. They made their way past the throng of last-minute Christmas Eve travellers, through a security entrance and found themselves in the long thin departure area. Patricia led the way, having already visited on several occasions, and they soon reached the hoardings surrounding the new business. Inside the new restaurant, Jinnie was struck by just how big it was. Across the front of the area were a raft of tables, chairs and booths. Further back were the outlet counters, Aunty JoJo’s took up two-thirds of the width and the sandwich outlet took up the remaining third.

At first sight, the outlets looked virtually ready to go, the only thing missing was food and customers. But on closer inspection Keith’s team were busy sorting out the final details. The lighting and signage were being worked on and behind the counters and in the kitchen men were everywhere, ceiling tiles were out, and Keith explained that his people were altering the A/C to be cooler in the kitchen. That was the only remaining biggish job and it would be finished tonight. In fact, after Christmas the team would be moving to Holetown and the cleaners would be in for a “factory clean” and the hoardings would be coming down.

Monica said, “We have been training staff at the two existing Aunty JoJo’s and we reckon one, maybe two, days after the clean and we can open for business. The thing is getting the food in and getting the OK from the airport authority. The latter should only be a formality as they have been in and out all the time during the build and have approved everything so far. We will be open before the New Year, and we look forward to serving you on your way home after your cruise.”

A happy Jinnie climbed back into Belinda’s car and the party headed to the Holetown site. Belinda was still learning her way around the island and had Jinnie program the Satnav to the address Patricia had given them. As they drove, Belinda told Jinnie she and Brian had been having a discussion as to whether it was more economical to hire a car when on the island or buy one to use when in residence on the island. Belinda instinctively thought it would be cheaper to hire a car, while Brian wasn’t quite so sure and being a financier, he was building a spreadsheet to work out all the costs. Jinnie chuckled at Brian spending his holiday working on a spreadsheet but said she disliked hire cars as you never quite knew what you were going to get when you went to pick the hire car up. She preferred to drive a car she knew.

The Satnav took them to the Holetown site’s large car park. The main site was protected by two-metre-high site wire mesh fencing that curled over and outwards at the top to make climbing it difficult. However, the car park was not inside the fence and as well as two of Keith’s company vans, a rusty old car appeared to have been dumped there. Keith led them through an unlocked gate and into a compound where two skips sat, one half-full of general waste and the second seemed to be empty. The restaurant appeared to be a good size, bigger than the Rockley branch but not as big as central Bridgetown. Jinnie was happy to see that dismantling was already in progress and four men were busy taking down portions. Belinda pulled several drawings from her bag and showed Jinnie rendered images of the finished branch which looked good.

Keith explained again that after Christmas, when the full team was available, work would take off quickly, but there was a lot more work to do here than at the airport branch. The current opening date was mid-February and both Keith and Belinda thought it realistic. After the visit, Jinnie stood in the car park and took in the surroundings. The site was on a main road but amid a busy strip mall. On the opposite side of the road were several office blocks and behind the mall was housing. A little further down the road were what appeared to be factories or a trading estate. What Jinnie saw was a good customer base and she smiled happily.

In Chapter 21 – The Cruise Starts

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