Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Back from Becquia

Would you believe me if I told you that I was diligently at work on a couple of writing projects last week during a brief but highly enjoyable trip to the Caribbean? Well, you might be entitled to be sceptical, but in fact, one of the great merits of taking a break away from it all is that it frees up your mind, and makes creative thinking easier. Anyway, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it, Here's why.

One of those projects actually involves Caribbean islands - they supply the settings for a potential novella, a form I've not tried before, something of an experiment. And one advantage of a cruise which stops at a different port almost every day (I've never tried a long sea cruise, as it seems to me there's a risk of going stir crazy after a week or so of gazing at the ocean) is that you are exposed to a wide range of people, and cultural experiences, which are fascinating in themselves,as well as apt to spark ideas.

Becquia, an island in the Grenadines, is somewhere I'd never even heard of until a few short weeks ago, when I chanced upon an unmissable late deal. It's a truly beautiful island, as close to the classic idea of the tropical paradise as anywhere I've ever visited. One of the people I talked to there has devoted the past twenty years to rescuing, breeding, and looking after turtles,caring for those with injuries (gentian violet is his preferred remedy for turtle injuries) before freeing those capable of survival back into the sea, A remarkable man, someone for whom I felt instinctive admiration.

Not far behind in loveliness is St Lucia, and there I talked to a chap who had spent the last 16 years establishing a wonderful garden at Stony Hill, now a popular venue for events and weddings. He told me what hard work it had been, and I'm sure that's true, but his reward is to have created somewhere quite stunning, complete with waterfall, orchid house, and amazing views. Suffice to say that I visited two botanical gardens on the trip, but they weren't remotely as impressive..

Two other stops, Barbados and Grenada, I'd visited before, but Tobago and Dominica were new to me. Like other Caribbean islands that are proudly independent nowadays, they've encountered some economic problems, and tourism is clearly very important to them. But they haven't let it spoil the natural charms of the islands and one can only hope this continues to be the case. I felt that the much-vaunted "Mystery Tombstone" in Plymouth, Tobago, was not quite as mysterious as I'd anticipated - not a Playfair cipher in sight - but it's a scenic island, and I relished the idea of sailing in the harbour of Scarborough four months after sailing in the harbour of its North Yorkshire namesake; even in July, North Yorkshire's climate was rather more "bracing", it has to be said. In Dominica, a trip through the rainforest, with its sulphrous springs and rather mysterious mist-clad lakes, was especially memorable.

So what of my other writing project? This one is not connected with the Caribbean in terms of location, but the opportunity to let my thoughts roam helped me to work out an idea for a Golden Age detective fiction project that, although quite modest in scale, I find truly exciting. I'd hoped before sailing to come up with a suitable concept, and managed to do just. that. Today I'll start writing it up....

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