He is orginally from Leeds, Yorkshire.
But Englishman Roy Farrar is as Bajan as you can get, without being born in Barbados.
The repeat visitor, who has been coming to the island for over 30 years now, had made well over 40 visits to his home away from home, where he generally waits out the winter months.
“I like to think of myself as more than just a visitor,” Farrar proudly proclaimed during a recent interview with Barbados TODAY.
“[In fact] everyone says when they find out how long I have been here, ‘you’re a Bajan, where’s your citizenship?’” he quipped, adding that “it wouldn’t be a bad idea [except that] it takes two three, days to get it, and then another three four weeks before it is approved.”
Roy, who usually spends four months of the year here, has been around long enough to appreciate not only how the immigration system works, but pretty much how everything functions – or not – in Barbados.
Therefore, you wouldn’t find him at any of the official receptions for repeat visitors put on by the Prime Minister at Ilaro Court.
For one, that is not his scene as he would much rather be mingling informally with the locals and tourists, as he is known to do in the Worthing Beach community.
In fact, you can call him the resident photographer, as Farrar has built up quite the reputation there for capturing the most spectacular moments from the balcony of his guesthouse and freely sharing them with whoever comes into the focus of his long lens.
Farrar also has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and capturing the most gorgeous sunsets, skylines, and amid clear signs of ruin, the beauty that still is Barbados.
This is why you could well appreciate it when he says, not just for criticism sake, that the “tourist board seems to be locked into itself rather than looking outside” and that it “looks inward, rather than out”.
After all, you would sooner see Farrar walking up and down the beach on mornings, liming in a bar or taking a ZR into Bridgetown, before you come across a single tourism official on the street – not to mention the fact that he is himself a repeat visitor.
So if there is anyone our Minister of Tourism should be listening to it is him, when he says it is not the reception at Ilaro that matters.
“What difference does it make if a tourist has been coming for 30 years? Yes, it is a nice way of saying thank you, but really the tourists that matter are every one of them – whether they are coming for a week or whether they are coming for months like I do,” he said.
“It is not cheap and it is not easy [to come here]. Most of the tourists who come spend eight to ten hours, and some of them 24 hours to get here, but when they get here they are not always welcome,” he said, suggesting that this was where the island’s tourism energies needed to be focused.
His first visit to Barbados was really by accident. Farrar and his then wife used to go to the Canary Islands, which he described as “fabulously warm”. However, as fate would have it, during one of their planned holidays they couldn’t get a flight because it was fully booked.
“We were given the choice of going to either in St Petersburg in Florida or coming down to Barbados.
Well in those days, Barbados was seen as the English prize.
“In those days, 30 years ago, to go to Barbados the English, certainly the British thought, ‘well, you must be a millionaire’. It was in the Caribbean, this magic island that only British Airways went to, but we decided let us give it a try and we came down for three weeks.”
Immediately, he was struck by the warmth of the people.
“In those days there was warmth and people did have time . . . and we just couldn’t get down fast enough the following year and we met people, other tourists who have been coming for years and years and it just built up, friendships built up and the time I spend down here over the Christmas, New Year period, it is just like being at home,” Farrar told Barbados TODAY.
In fact, as a result of his repeat visits, he now admits to knowing more people in the Worthings Beach area than he knows back in his hometown in Leeds.
Through his link with Barbados, friends have visited him in England and he and his wife, now deceased, also went over to Canada and the United States.
In recent months Worthings Beach has become synonymous with all manner of sewage problems.
But for Farrar, it is still one of the most special places on earth. In fact, he believes the beach itself has special healing properties, so while he usually takes weekends off to go to the Crane and to explore other parts of the island which he now equally knows like the back of his hand, Worthing Beach is still his home away from home.
“From the first time we came, we stayed on Worthing Beach and it is strange how the beach has changed,” said Farrar, explaining that “at that time, Worthing Beach was a real wild beach.
“The sea did come crashing in and there were days when you couldn’t walk down the beach because it was so high. So of course, Accra, or as we call it Rockley Beach, was the beach at that time.”
Since then the area has undergone infrastructural development, including the addition of the Accra Beach Hotel and Farrar, who initially stayed at Cacrabank Beach Apartments, which has since been renamed the Blue Orchid, has since switched to Vista Villas over the past 22 years, even though he said Blue Orchid “must have had the best balcony as far as I’m concerned in Barbados at that time”.
Asked why he has not tired of Barbados and keeps coming back, Farrar said: “Now it is as much a habit as anything to come to Barbados.
“Where else can you go and get the sun and the sea and the warmth?” he said, while lamenting that the people are not as friendly as they once were and that the island had undergone some negative changes over the past 30 years.
However, he was quick to add that “I don’t think this is just Barbados by the way, I think this is how the world is shrinking so much and so much to do.
“The warmth is still there, but it takes a lot of delving to get it out of the people these days,” he said.
Still the Worthing community has managed to hold on to some of the warmth that Farrar says is now lacking in general.
“From December to the end of March, Worthing does become its own little village.
“You walk the beach you know everybody on the beach. Everybody knows you. And it is renewing friendships. Coming for as long as I do, I meet all of the people who come down in that period so it is almost every week, renewing friendships.
“Odd enough today, it is a very big goodbye to at least six couples who happen to be going back today – some to Canada, some to America others to Britain and this morning I was walking down the beach and popping in saying, ‘See you next year’, and they were all, ‘Oh yeah, God willing we will be back next year,’” he reported at the time of the interview.
Farrar said for him, “the biggest thing I come down here for, which might sound silly, is that I know I am going to be rejuvenated by two months and that is amazing.”
Many times he sits on the balcony videotaping and photographing the people that have just arrived.
“Most of them are well into their 70s and into the 90s. There is one woman down there who is 99. Still does her own swimming, her own walking and everything, but they come down and they are walking the beach with their walking stick. Three or four days later you find that they have still got the walking stick but they are not struggling, they are just walking,” said Farrar, who insists there is therapeutic value from regular visits to the beach.
“You can go down to Worthing and you could actually film from the end of December to mid March and take note of the people coming, give them a week at the most and see the rejuvenation. It is incredible!
“It is absolutely incredible to see them a couple weeks later. They don’t even have a walking stick.
“I think it is the atmosphere, the sea, the beautiful clear air and the warmth that gets the joints going.
Farrar, who turns 77 this year, said: “I don’t feel anywhere near it and I would at least take seven to ten years off of that because of coming to Barbados over the past 30 years,” he said.
However, while beachside is heaven, roadside is “hell” because of the noise.
“It is more or less a race track. It is certainly a race track for the Number 11s . . .It is a ZR racetrack from Oistins to Bridgetown,” he said.
“Cutting in, cutting out and cutting other cars from half past five in the morning, it is ZRs and from two, three o’clock in the morning, you get the motor bikes or the race cars and they sit at the lights at the bottom of Rendezvous and they race down toward Rockley and I mean screaming. You have got the older gears, so it starts crackling. It is like gunfire.”
Incidentally, his last visit came a week after the recent sewage problem developed.
However, Farrar was not put off by it, simply because for him, it is nothing new.
“I know how bad it was but I have been there 30 years, it is nothing new. The swamp has always been like that. Sometimes you dreaded going into the sea because it is filthy, but you give it a couple of days and it is fine. I don’t know why they thought this year was different to any other,” he said.
“It used to be number one in the number two business, but all you did is just held your breath until it passed, so I really thought it was a bit of a panic,” he said.
However, he acknowledged that some people did cancel, and to receiving enquiries from friends who wanted to know if it was still safe to visit.
“Where could you go that you wouldn’t have this?” he said, adding that it was the same with the crime situation.
Therefore, he intends to keep coming and coming, back to his island home.