Porridge's Place - Reader Reports & Opinion
Porridge's Place, Castara
Jenny & JD
Three whole months in Castara!!! When my feet finally touched the ground after booking the flight, practicalities kicked in and the question of where to stay was next on the agenda. Chosing holiday accommodation long distance always has its element of risk and for a three month stay it just had to be right. Already familiar with Tobago and Castara from a previous visit, we were fortunate enough to be recommended to Porridge's Place which we subsequently booked.
When you book yourself into the delightful open-plan apartment attached to the family home, you are committing yourself to more than anonymous holiday accommodation. This is not to say you won't have your privacy and space as the family are well aware of visitors' needs. So what will it be like?
After landing, as you step outside the airport at Crown Point, Porridge will quite probably be the first guy you'll notice. Not just because he's taller than average, but also because his sincere, reassuring smile as he holds your name board brings a welcome sense of relief to the weary traveller. His experience and ease with visitors is obvious (as a bonus he has spent time in England so knows what you need from your holiday). Naturally, friendly and enthusiastic, you will find that Porridge is totally committed to making sure you get what you want from your holiday - and have a lot of fun in the process.
You will have your confirmation that you have made the right decision, when you are shown your spotless accommodation and meet Jeanell, Porridge's wife. Jeanell will give you a warm welcome and is truly a lovely person. Their two children Dorisia and Shaq are delightful and though friendly and willing to help when asked, are used to giving their visitors privacy.
When staying at Porridge's Place you automatically have the advantage of all his and Jeanell's areas of expertise and local knowledge a first class tourist information officer and tour guide ' on tap'. He is also able to organize car hire is for you as and
when you need it.
We enjoyed staying on the outskirts of the village. Walks in the rainforest were on the doorstep as well as good access to the heavenly beaches of Castara, Englishmans Bay and Parletuvier. The apartment is spacious and partitioned into living and sleeping areas, with shower, toilet and washbasin. For those people who enjoy holiday catering, the four ringed stove and oven is more than adequate and the large fridge freezer enables bulk shopping (plus plenty of beer storage). The tiled floor helped keep the air cool as did openable wooden shutters which looked out onto a private covered veranda. Sitting there, looking out as the sun goes down, ice cold rum punch in hand, the scent of Jeanell's home made bread wafting down, your favourite music on, carressed by the warm tropical evening, you realise you are in paradise.
Best wishes Jenny and JD
Porridge's Place, Castara
Melanie & Amanda
We arrived at Porridge’s place just as the sun was setting. The traditional house, nestled into the hillside and surrounded by flowers and trees, was wonderfully peaceful, the quietness only broken by the sounds of birds and singing frogs.
The accommodation is spacious, immaculately clean and really comfortable. The kitchen had everything we could need and there was a comfy bed (with good mosi net), small sofa and a fan. We loved the wooden louver windows and the seating area outside. We had a lovely welcome...the kids carried our bags and Jeanelle – Porridge’s wife – greeted us warmly, putting a cold beer into our hands and cooking us a great, meal – freshly caught fish plus rice and salad – prepared Tobagan style. We saw amazing birds from right outside our door – including masses of humming birds – and we loved the peace of our countryside retreat. With Castara village, the beach and the ocean only 5 mins walk away we knew we had found a gem of a place - comfortable, pretty, quiet - and at a great price. It was great staying with a local family.
Porridge and Jeanell gave us plenty of space and privacy but were always ready to share a laugh, a chat or a beer and it was really useful knowing we could ask them for information or advice if we needed it. Not that Castara needs much in the way of explanation...it’s an easy place to stay and an easy place to fall in love with! The village, the beach and the ocean couldn’t be more beautiful (surely?) and the people are warm, helpful and welcoming. We have never felt more embraced by a place in all our travels and our conversations with local people are as part of our happy memories as are the fabulous birds, forest, food, weather, sea and feel of the village and the island as a whole.
Thanks Porridge and Jeanell for a wonderful holiday!
Porridge And Jeanells Place, Castara
Porridge and Jeanell’s place
Nowhere is perfect, although to many people Tobago is a pretty close approximation of paradise. Similarly, no accommodation is perfect although that depends on your expectations and your standards. If you want a real Caribbean experience, meaning that you get the opportunity to mix with local people rather than a host of sun seeking tourists then Castara has to be a good bet. Similarly if you are looking for a genuine place to stay then Porridge’s Place leaves little to be desired. If you wish to dive out of your window into the sea then look elsewhere (although you can see the sea from Porridge’s). If you want palatial then likewise but for a combination of price, level of equipment, cleanliness, friendliness, service, accessibility and welcome then look no further.
The house is on the edge of town which means a ten minute walk to and from the beach but this does mean it is quiet and you will not be disturbed although there will always be neighbours playing music but don’t go to Tobago if you are not keen or Reggae or do not wish to listen to other people’s sound systems; it is a fact of life and personally, I love it that way.
The apartment is below Porridge and Jeanell’s house and is compact but has all that a couple might need. Comprising a kitchen at one end, a small ‘living’area, the bedroom and then the shower and toilet it is not a place perhaps for prudes. The shower is separated by a curtain and the toilet has a door but there are no other internal partitions except for half a wall by the bed which provides much storage. There are shelves elsewhere too and a hanging space for clothes. The bed has a full length mosquito net although I came to use it less and less as they didn’t seem to be a problem. The bedroom area has adjustable louvre shutters for light and ventilation out onto the front as does the kitchen/living area.
As to equipment the kitchen has a new gas cooker and a large fridge freezer and all the utensils you would really need although one or two items came to mind while I was there and these were provided if I asked for them. There is a television and radio/cd player in the bedroom area. The shower provides only warm water which is all you need but the basin has only cold. There is a good sized combination safe for valuables which will adequately accommodate cameras, videos, phones etc. Linen is all new, brightly patterned, freshly laundered and frequently changed. Outside is a small, roofed and mainly enclosed seating area, mostly shaded from the sun and bedecked with Jeanell’s flowers, here there is a table and chairs as most meals will be eaten outside, and a bench for extra seating. The view from here is back down towards the village and the sea in the distance. I believe there are plans to build a small seating area which will get more sun for those that wish to cook themselves. You are close to the comings and goings of the house and neighbours but this is not intrusive. Parking on the road is very nearby and you can drive right up to the house if necessary. There is an easy 10 second walk from the road to the house up a track and a couple of steps up to the balcony and front door.
Porridge and Jeanell are a collective fount of knowledge and are local right through; they can provide car hire and mini bus trips as well as pick ups from the airport. If you want a barbeque, party, boat trip or whatever else then just ask and they will help arrange things. However the single most important factor of living at this address is the family upstairs. Porridge and Jeanell and the children are all an absolute delight to be around and cannot be helpful enough. Nothing is too much trouble and you will receive a daily courtesy visit to check on you or a longer visit for liming and always a friendly greeting as they all come and go. If you wish to socialise there may well be a party and you can always request a visit to Sunday School or the Cat and Fiddle with Porridge.
I would stay there on my next trip except someone got there first. Book now!
Nigel Mills ( + Will)
Porridge's Place, Castara
We stayed there at the beginning of March for a fortnight and all I would add to Steves review is that our bedlinen and towels were changed every couple of days, maybe Jeanel thought we were a bit more sweaty!!!
The place is really nice and you could not get nicer or more obliging hosts than Porridge & Jeanel.
They really made us feel part of the family and I can't recommend a stay there highly enough.
Porridges Place, March 2006
Spent one week as a guest of Porridge and Jeanell. All in all had a great time there.
The flat was of a decent size. There was a good sized double bed with a mozzie net round it (this was never used though). There is a CD player / radio (clever me, forgot any CDs). There is a shower, a seperate toilet and a sink. The shower runs luke warm water and the tap is cold water. However neither of this really mattered. There is also a TV, but I never used it. There is a big fan (which I only used a few times). There are no windows, but netting. Blinds let the light in, and I would normally close these at night.
The kitchen has a large fridge / freezer, toaster, kettle (not electric though), coffee maker (didn't use it though) and a gas oven/grill/cooker. The kitchen came fully furnished with all pots / pans / dishes, etc. One thing, some of the pots are a bit old, and would commonly get burnt.
There is a great liitle porch outside for sitting and eating. The sofa was used to keep my bags. There is a safe to keep your valuables. Jeanell cleaned the place once during my stay.
Location of the place is about 10 minutes walk to Castara village. Down the hill is fine, up the hill, takes slightly longer!!! I found it generally safe to walk up and down and often got lifts.
Both Porridge and Jeanell are supertars. They let me use their phone to make local calls and use their internet to quickly check my emails. I went drinking with Porridge a few times which was always a laugh! I also arranged car hire through them.
The place was generally clean, however (as with most places in the tropics) there was always various bug problems!! Nothing too bad though.
This place is not 5 star. But then you are not paying 5 star rates. For the price (US$40) I think the place is great, along with the fantastic service offered. However in all fairness if I go to Tobago (which I probably will!!) I probably won't stay there, as I would like to stay somewhere closer to the beach.
But for anyone who does decide to stay there, they won't be disappointed.