It was a rare warm spring day when I arrived at Sarah Raven’s Perch Hill Farm this week for a master-class in veg growing. The Sussex countryside was bucolic – gambolling lambs, forsythia bursting, hedgerows popping…and Sarah’s farm was beginning to sprout too. Continue reading
We have always spent Christmas and New year in Champery since my mother died in 2009. There seemed no need to remain in England after that; and even less so after Louise died in 2011. The three of us come here and try and avoid the madness that overtakes even rational people at Christmas time. The only presents I give are to Ross and Tommy; friends may receive small tokens from our travels, Christmas biscuits from the Basel market or home-made chutneys, if I’ve made any! Continue reading
We leave lovely Ometepe by the ferry, and arrive at the border after an hour or so. Here we say goodbye to Bayardo, our driver for the past 10 days, and lug our bags through the Nicaragua border formalities – all smiles – and into Costa Rica – all grumps. It’s blazing hot and there is no sign of the rental car, which Diego has nobly volunteered to drive (great job Diego!). We mooch around in the scant shade looking in wonderment at the massive pantechnicons which ply the Transamerica Highway from north to south. Their line to cross the border is at least 1-2 kms long. Awful. Continue reading
The drive from El Jaguar to Léon, Nicaragua’s capital (founded in 1524) until Managua took over, takes us through fields of maize, legumes (the famous red beans for the staple dish of pinto gallo – or rice and peas) and the usual motley array of horses (sometimes with dashing gauchos astride), cows, dogs and pigs. Round here where it is poor, they are all a bit thin, ribs sticking out, apart from the pigs who root around contentedly. Sometimes the animals are tethered, but mostly not. The houses are as poor as ever, with the occasional school, and people going about their daily business. Religion plays a huge part in daily life – and the bigger churches are full of effigies of saints and, of course, the Virgin Mary. Continue reading
I have always loved cricket. I learned to play it at school, but graduated to umpiring and scoring after nearly losing my front teeth to a fumbled catch. As a young publisher of school textbooks in the Caribbean, I decided early on that the perfect icebreaker was cricket, so I set about revising and updating my knowledge. It was the golden era of WIndies cricket and soon I was following Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Marshall, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Hayes, Big Bird Garner, Michael Holding et al. round the islands as they blackwashed all the teams in sight. While I was working, you understand.
Brekekekèx-koàx-koáx! Brekekekèx-koàx-koáx! Richard Morse, our polyglot puzzler and gamer supreme, replies to the frogs’ chorus with this Aritsophenean refrain each night as we sit down to supper in our magical villa overlooking the sea at La Londe-les-Maures. Continue reading
After a week on the boat we treat ourselves to a few days of pampering at Soneva Fushi. This is a ‘barefoot luxury’ island, with secluded villas adorning its outer edges like a string of pearls, encompassing verdant rainforest, populated by fruit bats, bunnies, a few chickens and white-breasted waterhens which cluck around followed by fluffy tweeting chicks, and poo liberally on the verandahs. This is our third visit; the last time we came was within a few weeks of Louise’s death so it has bittersweet connotations. But we do remember it being a place of beauty and tranquillity. Continue reading