Today we made our way along the South Coast from Eastbourne to Dungeness. Dungeness spans Dungeness Nuclear Power Station, the hamlet of Dungeness, and an ecological site at the same location.
The weather was hot, the top was down on the car and we hit the road.
Dungeness has one of the largest areas of vegetated shingle in Europe and is internationally important. It’s landscape is barren and wild with a mishmash of living accommodation made out of old railway carriages, mobile homes, sheds and old mobile homes alongside more traditionally built houses- wood and stone, all with beach sympathetic and inspired gardens . An artist’s paradise.
It’s bleak, unique, fascinating and one of my favourite places on Earth, whatever the weather.
The vividly painted architecture lining the Willemstad waterfront in Curaçao did not happen by design. The capital city developed after the Dutch claimed the island in 1634. The only materials available for construction, mismatched bricks scavenged from ship ballast, were finished with lime plaster made from crushed shells, which dried to a dazzling white facade in the intense Caribbean sun. Apparently a former governor of the island suffered from severe headaches and thought this was made worse by the sun’s brilliant reflections off the white buildings. He ordered that building exteriors be painted any color but white. Despite later discovery that the governor was a shareholder in the island’s only paint store, the tradition of painting in vivid colors has endured, making Willemstad’s Dutch and Spanish colonial style architecture a stunning Caribbean sight.
Willemstad, Curaçao, the last of the ABC islands to visit, was the final port of call on our Six week West Indies and American cruise. A cruise that had it’s ups and downs due to the start of Covid-19. Unfortunately although we could dock here, we didn’t get to go ashore. Another time, another cruise…!
Cartagena is a port city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The walled Old Town, founded in the 16th century, has squares, cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings. It was a South American stop on our Caribbean and American cruise. During the fabulous sail into port my head was full of Pablo Escobar and his drug charged career. This was soon forgotten when we hit the streets of the Cartagena, the Colombian capital. A riot of colour and noise filled the senses and left me reeling. The atmosphere was electric, the weather hot and sultry. My only regret for this beautiful and vibrant city was that I didn’t buy an emerald!
The famous Carpet Gardens are the centrepiece of Eastbourne’s Promenade with vibrant displays of bedding plants and special planting features. It was around 1904 that they first appeared on the Grand Parade near the pier. It is not known who first thought of adorning the sea front with some such a gorgeous display of horticulture but Eastbourne Borough Council do a fantastic job in creating year round displays to reflect the seasons.
Above is an early postcard of the gardens. Make a future date to come and see them how they are now in our beautiful town.
St John, Antigua was our next port of call and we hired a jeep off of a friend on the island. Antigua is famous for it’s cricket and one of first stops was The Sir Viv Richards Cricket Stadium, named after local boy and hotshot batsman Sir Vivian Richards. Fast bowlers Andy Roberts and Curtly Ambrose also hail from Antigua.
We then moved onto Half Moon Bay in the Parish of Saint Philip. This crescent shaped bay is just one of Antigua’s stunning beaches (there are 365, one for each day of the year). It rests on the south eastern coast, facing the Atlantic and is almost a mile long, with amazing surf and calm turquoise seas.
After a drive around St John, we tucked into some tropical ice creams at Tropical Time Out Ice Cream Parlour and Deli. The ice cream is made fresh to serve with a whole host of flavours include pistachio, passion fruit sherbet, bubble gum, birthday cake and caramel crunch, to name but a few.
We have been to Antigua a few times and it never fails to delight. The island is beautiful and the locals friendly. The Caribbean cruise season is sadly nearly over now, sadly cut short this year with the corona virus issues, but hopefully we will return again winter 2020.
What is it about this island That makes it to all paradise? Is it the people, plants, places That bring smiles to all faces, And when on parting, tears to eyes That venture into this Heaven On Earth land? Grenada, Spice Isle!
Oranjestad, Aruba was the next island on our Caribbean Island hopping travels. Here we hired an ATV to get around: Pardo Motorcycle Rental. $90 US for a half day. No website, but they hang around the port entrance in Aruba. Vehicle was a bit old and battered but it did the job.
We made our way over to the northwestern tip of the island, to Aruba’s California Dunes and Lighthouse- local name.Hudishibana
Moving away from the lighthouse we hit the dunes for a bit of off-roading- windswept with abandoned, albeit colourful, buildings scattered around, the dunes feel a bit wild and bleak.
Aruba is a beautiful little island boasting gorgeous weather, fabulous beaches and an ATV in the Outback was a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Not only is Bonaire beautiful, it has an interesting socio-political history in the salt ponds and slave huts. The salt ponds were where the salt, one of Bonaire’s most important export products was collected to then be shipped abroad.
The pink water at the salt ponds comes from the sea water, being very transparent and reflecting the color of the salt ponds’ base- cell membranes, which contain carotenoid pigments. It is these that give the salt crystallisers the pink-red colour which are reflected in the water.
The slave huts, constructed in 1850 during the slave time , served as camping facilities for slaves working in the salt ponds. They were used as sleeping quarters and a place to put away the personal belongings of the working teams.
Judging from the modern graffiti, there are still a few political issues on the island.
Storm Ciara hit the UK with a vengeance today 9th February. Billed as the Storm of the Century, gales reaching over 70 mph in places have disrupted air, sea, rail and road travel.
It’s not been all bad though. A British Airways flight made the fastest subsonic New York to London journey. The Boeing 747-436 reached speeds of 825 mph (1,327 km/h) as it rode a jet stream accelerated by Storm Ciara.
It’s been spectacular on Eastbourne Seafront, where Ciara combined with a full moon and spring tides to give a pretty amazing weather picture.
A spring tide is a tide after a new or full moon, when there is the greatest difference between high and low water. A spring tide or ‘King Tide’ refers to the ‘springing forth’ of the tide during new and full moon.
Although I can see him still. The freckled man who goes To a grey place on a hill In grey Connemara clothes At dawn to cast his flies, It’s long since I began To call up to the eyes This wise and simple man. All day I’d looked in the face What I had hoped ‘twould be To write for my own race And the reality; The living men that I hate, The dead man that I loved, The craven man in his seat, The insolent unreproved, And no knave brought to book Who has won a drunken cheer, The witty man and his joke Aimed at the commonest ear, The clever man who cries The catch-cries of the clown, The beating down of the wise And great Art beaten down.
Maybe a twelvemonth since Suddenly I began, In scorn of this audience, Imagining a man, And his sun-freckled face, And grey Connemara cloth, Climbing up to a place Where stone is dark under froth, And the down-turn of his wrist When the flies drop in the stream; A man who does not exist, A man who is but a dream; And cried, ‘Before I am old I shall have written him one poem maybe as cold And passionate as the dawn.’
“The Fisherman”, published in 1916, depicts Yeats’ considerations into the loss of Irish tradition through the persona of a fisherman.
This image, caught on my Eastbourne seafront run last Sunday morning, made me think of The Fisherman by W. B Yeats.