Barbados

On my trip to Barbados for chapters in an Oliver Messel book I wrote a letter to my family, which summed up my trip excellently.
”Never in all my travels for writing can I say so heartily that I wish you were here with me now. As well as being terrifically interesting as background research to the chapters in the Oliver Messel book, the house which i am staying in Fustic House, is one of the most delightful houses I have ever stayed in; the main house is like a french farmhouse in Provence, and the wing which Oliver Messel designed includes a beautiful loggia with views through a deeply, green jungle-like garden towards the sea.
I am staying in a separate guest house, surrounded by old mahogany trees, banana trees and a flowering tree calles something like abundance – red and yellow flowers are always dropping on the terrace where we eat supper surrounded by candles. I arrived exhausted, but find it hard to sleep, and lie awake listening to the chirruping of the tree frogs and cicadas, or in the early morning light watching the hundreds of birds flitting about, and the little green lizards, almost luminous crawling on the walls.
While I was doing some writing a few minutes ago a monkey sat watching me from the tree. There has beensome heavy rain while I have been here, but not much and the following morning seemed fresher for it. You may have been a bit bored visiting the elegant houses of rich people, which I have to do for my research for this book, but they are rather special ones, cleverly designed as kind of dream houses, where people could escape the winters of Europe or North America, relatively few are lived in all year round.
I have also had long chats with men and women in the 80s who remember Oliver Messel (one elderly American I was interviewing was very frail and passed out while I was with him and I had to carry him to a chair, but he cheered up over pudding, poached bananas with raisins and ginger).
My hosts are a lot of fun and very kind. There is also a chef, and a butler, and some maids. Mr Gordon insisted on taking me out in a boat this morning before it got too hot, so i could see the views of these houses from the sea; the sea is very blue, and the coast is made up of little cover, sandy beaches with palm trees behind (so it’s not like any research I have ever done before) although there are hundreds of houses here now, many built for the world’s richest people). I did do a short swim with a mask off the boat to see silvery, striped fish, and all the curious shapes of the coral.”

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