It’s always such a pleasure featuring Caroline James on Being Anne! Caroline visited the blog with a lovely interview last year, when I reviewed (and so enjoyed…) Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me – you’ll find that feature here. And my review of her novella, Jungle Rock, is one of my most-read posts since I relaunched the blog: if you fancy reading it again, here it is. Today, I’m delighted that Caroline has chosen to join me again, to tell us about her special place…
Do you have a special place that you go to when you need to turn your back on the day-to-day? It may be a garden, a walk, a town or a place. When life is confusing or difficult, what’s your special place?
For me it is the Caribbean. Barbados off the beaten track. I know that I am lucky to spend time there but if you really want to do something, you find a way.
Writing is my passion. Discovered late, I realised that it is what I want to do. Work had become untenable and something had to give, no matter how difficult the journey to finding a new path. I needed inspiration, I wanted to mend and rebuild my life and found myself on a flight, crossing the Atlantic, heading to an island that has become a part of my life.
“You need to come back to the source.”
Words spoken by a friend who seemed to understand.
Barbados is busy, and despite our falling pound, Brits flock there alongside huge numbers of Canadians and Americans and visitors from all over the world. I sat on a beach one afternoon and watched sixteen flights cruising along the coast to land at Grantley Adams International and imagined the chaos in customs, as weary travellers waited to get a glimpse of the island beyond the airport doors.
Barbados is beautiful and the travel brochures offer dream-like holidays at resorts alongside white sandy beaches and turquoise seas. The south coast has a glut of bars, restaurants and nightclubs that buzz with atmosphere and when the sun goes down, ‘liming’ comes to life as the world and his wife step out in their finery. The west coast is considered slicker, with more upmarket hostelries and anyone who is anyone in the media can be found in high season, stepping out on the beaches or shopping at Lime Grove where a plethora of designer shops and boutiques equal any exclusive city location.
Bajan people are polite. Walk down a gap, beach or boardwalk and people will smile, do it on a regular basis and you are soon engaged in conversation. “You are family,’ my Bajan friends tell me as they embrace me into their lives, their homes open with hospitality that pours as freely as the rum. Bajans like their rum. It is a way of life to most and to outsiders may seem excessive, but I can think of nothing nicer than a Saturday or Sunday morning, meeting up with friends at a farmer’s market or festival and passing the time of day with fish cakes or roti’s to nibble whilst enjoying a rum, then heading off to a beach bar for steel pan and dancing and a swim as the sun sets over the sparkling sea.
Bajans have their own set of rules when driving and it is a brave tourist who sits behind a wheel and takes to the road. I ask elementary questions:
Q. What is the rule for drinking and driving? A. Make sure you don’t spill it.
Q. What do the red flashing lights mean? A. Every man for himself.
I would encourage anyone to find a vehicle or a driver and get off the beaten track. Head east and prepare yourself for a scene change that will take your breath away. Here, the slate-blue Atlantic crashes to the shore and mist rolls like drift-smoke over huge volcanic rocks that have withstood centuries of pounding breakers. There is a feeling of karma on this coast, as if a previous state of existence has bought you back to this perfect place.
Rickety rum shops are dotted along country roads and friendly locals are pleased if you stop and have a beer and sample whatever is cooking in a pot at the back of the shop. Colour is everywhere. From the vegetables in the markets to the washing on a line. A rainbow of happiness wherever you look.
Barbados has inspired much of my writing and my last novel, Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me was born there. This extended trip got my pen back on the page and wrapped in the magic of this special place, I started writing again. Boomerville, my next book, will be published later this year.
I hope you have a special place to recharge and take stock. Huge thanks to Anne for the opportunity to write here.
Happy reading and writing,
Thank you Caroline! Despite all my travels, I still haven’t experienced Barbados – now that’s something I really must put right…
All Caroline’s books can be found through her Amazon author page, but let’s take a closer look at a couple… you’ll find the buying links in the titles:
‘The time to be happy is now…’
Jo remembers her late husband’s words but is struggling to face the lonely future that lies ahead. A heartbroken widow, Jo finds herself alone with ghostly memories at Kirkton House – a Cumbrian Manor that until recently, she ran as a thriving hotel. Her two sons have moved away, Jimmy to run a bar in Barbados, and Zach to London to pursue a career as a celebrity chef. Middle-age and widowhood loom frighteningly and Jo determines to sell up and start again, despite protestations from colourful friend, Hattie and erstwhile admirer Pete Parks.
Hattie convinces Jo to postpone any life-changing decisions by enjoying a Caribbean holiday but their holiday sets off a course of events that brings mayhem and madness to Jo and her family. Confused and anxious for her future, can life really begin again for Jo?
Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me was a finalist at The Write Stuff – London Book Fair 2015. The judge’s comments included, “Caroline is a natural story-teller with a gift for humour in her writing.”
Handsome young chef Zach Docherty is feeling the heat. Following an exposé in a national newspaper, his fiancée Poppy Dunlop has broken their engagement. Heartbroken at the thought of life without Poppy, Zach drowns his sorrows and, when his agent suggests that Zach becomes a contestant in a reality TV show, Jungle Survival, he reluctantly agrees.
Plunged deep in the jungle, into a bizarre mix of talent and trials, Zach meets glamour model Cleo Petra, and the cameras go crazy.
Will Zach survive and be crowned Jungle King? Or will his latest exploits push Poppy further away…