Uvita Island, Limon Costa Rica.

Uvita Island, or Grape Island (English) is an uninhabited island off the coast of Limon in Costa Rica. Christopher Columbus anchored on the island during his final voyage to America in 1502.

We took a trip over to the island with TazMia Adventure Tours- find them on Facebook: TazMia Adventure Tours.

We paid $50 US per person for the whole trip. This included return taxi to the boat that would take us over- including a stop off at the supermarket, return boat trip and a tour guide to take us around the island. The tour guide- Larry- was fabulous. He walked us around telling us the island’s history and pointing out all the flora and fauna. The boat trip over took around fifteen minutes- a short journey down the river then hitting quite rough seas when we went over. Landing on the island was tricky but handled perfectly by the boat captain.

The whole afternoon was an adventure- exciting, informative and fun.

TazMia Adventure tours were amazing and 100% reliable- look for them around the port area- distinctive by their red t-shirts. One person will do the deal with you- agree a price and agenda, then pull everything all together for a brilliant trip- even found me a sloth!

Limon Sloth

Port Royal, Jamaica.

Port Royal village, Jamaica is located at the end of the Palisadoes at the mouth of Kingston Harbour, in south eastern Jamaica. Founded in 1494 by the Spanish, it was once the largest city in the Caribbean. It was the centre of shipping and commerce in the Caribbean Sea by the latter half of the 17th century.

It was also the one of the ports that allowed us to dock in the midst of the Covid-19 situation, albeit docking was tricky in the strong cross winds

The local authorities had laid on a festival in the port area for our visit, which included food, drink and souvenir stalls together with a main stage for bands and dancing.

Walking around the village outside the port was a whole different story. It was a local village, not a tourist town by a long shot. Small, hot and dusty, with an air of sleepiness about the area, people went about their daily lives. Cats and dogs slept stretched out in the sun. Children were coming out of school, washing hung on the lines and men lazed outside houses and the local bar. The atmosphere was sultry and vaguely intimidating. Police cars crawled slowly up and down the main street and side roads. We wandered around the historic fort and the church. Locals were in turn indifferent and welcoming. It felt the true Jamaica, away from the bustle of Kingston and the false environment of the holiday resorts. In a strange way it equated with a middle class English village that doesn’t especially attract tourists and belongs only to the people that live there. It even had a local football team!

Saint Kitts.

Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea St Kitts is an island of former sugar plantations, rainforests, hiking trails and dominated by the dormant volcano Mount Liamuiga. It’s colonial history is complex with the English and French arguing over control of the island for centuries. Cricket is a national obsession.

It is also one of my favourite Eastern Caribbean Islands. Hire an ATV and go explore this beautiful historic and atmospheric island.

World Book Night. Thursday 23 April 2020.

Come on everybody- lets do it! Something to help us through Lockdown.

You’re invited to the #ReadingHour

Large reading hour

Everyone is invited to join us at 7pm on 23 April for the #ReadingHour! You can do anything you want related to books: read alone, read with or to someone, or even call a friend to chat about books and share recommendations.

1 in 3 people in England don’t regularly read for pleasure, but we know the benefits that reading brings to our lives. We want to share this more people, encouraging everyone to set aside time in our busy lives to read more. Why should you read?

  • 19% of readers say that reading stops them from feeling lonely
  • Regular readers for pleasure have report fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers, and stronger feelings of relaxation from reading than from watching television or engaging with technology intensive activities
  • Adults who read for just 30 minutes a week are 20% more likely to report greater life satisfaction

You can read a print book, e-book, or listen to an audiobook, and it doesn’t matter what you read. Pick up the book that you’ve been meaning to read for years, or borrow a book from your local library’s digital lending services (sign-up now if you’re not already a member). If you’re looking for suggestions, our booklist has something for everyone, including fiction, non-fiction and books for young adults. If you’re really stuck, just tweet us at @WorldBookNight and we’d be happy to provide a recommendation!

Valentine’s Day.

Tomorrow is St Valentine’s Day, which got me thinking about the day’s origins.

Valentine’s Day has been marked in liturgical calendars for centuries. As a Christian feast day, Valentine’s Day actually commemorates two Saint Valentines: Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni.

But Valentine’s Day only became associated with romantic love during the late fourteenth century, when Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400), author of The Canterbury Tales, made the association in his poem ‘The Parlement of Foules’ (written to honour the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia- both fifteen years old).

The poem features a parliament, or assembly, of birds, which have gathered together in order to choose their mates:

 ‘For this was on seynt Volantynys day / Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.’

Since literature seems to be the origins for modern  Valentine’s Day, then it is still the perfect medium in which to talk about love, and here are two of my favourite literary love quotes:

“You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how”

Gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchell

“I’ve never had a moment’s doubt. I love you. I believe in you completely. You are my dearest one. My reason for life”

Atonement by Ian McEwan.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

Pride and Proud

Friday 28th June 2019 was the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, which led to the gay liberation movement in the US.

It was also the day my beautiful daughter married her equally beautiful partner.

Fifty years ago this was unthinkable. How proud I am to be living now in 2019 when this is possible.

Below is a picture I took at London Pride 2016. It summed the day and the meaning behind Pride celebrations up perfectly for me The sheer joy!

the girls by Lisa Jewell

The Girls in the Garden

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was good. I was quite sad to leave those moody, complicated teenagers behind. They stayed with me most of the day after finishing the book. I’m still not sure who ‘did it’ but I guess that is the point- the closed world of the teenager that the parent never quite gets a handle on. This was a good ‘sunny bank holiday in the garden’ read.

View all my reviews

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (Harold Fry, #2)

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story is about Queenie’s emotional journey as opposed to Harold’s physical one. It is about her unrequited love for Harold and also about Harold’s son David from Queenie’s perspective. Queenie’s story was darker than Harold’s and I’m not really sure what to say about Queenie apart from the fact that I wanted to shake her for mooning over Harold and for letting his son use her. I do want her sea garden though. However the main thing I really love about Rachel Joyce’s books are the endings and this was no exception. Clever? Magical? They never fail to take me by surprise.

View all my reviews

Pooh’s Ashdown Forest Walk

Last Sunday we walked Winnie the Pooh’s Ashdown Forest. It was a fairly easy seven mile walk through farmland and woods. We followed the AA map and instructions http://www.theaa.com/walks/poohs-ashdown-forest-421098. Must admit we lost our way a couple of time (due to my bad map reading) and seven miles turned into eight and a half but our iPhones put us straight again. We played Pooh sticks on Pooh Bridge and stopped off for coffee and cake at Pooh Corner, tearooms in Hartfield. What I really like about the Pooh trail was the very thing that got us lost- no signs apart from a couple of carved wooden ones to the bridge. It is literally a free walk in the countryside not a commercial venture.