Walking the Beaches -On tiptoe…. and trapped

So slightly nervous, we struck out down the grassy track leading to this mysterious building.  As we got closer we realised it was a house, very much lived in.  There were no people visible as we approached.    Our grassy track opened up on a very well kept and soft grass lawn flanked by a stream and a pond.  The pond opened into a gushing stream tippling forcefully over the edge of the cliff, which at this stage was only about 5m high.  Below the rocks were piled high and the sea was crashing in close to the falls.   The house was fairly small – I estimate no more than 3 bedrooms – and quite compact.  Made from the dark black granite rock held in place with grey mortar, a cyclone could not have as much chipped at it.  We had to walk along the lawn before dropping down to the beach.

Progress was slow, though, along this next stretch – the rocks were a couple of metres high with large chasms between that took a lot of precision leaping (and braking) to span them.  Some were wet with spray, others slimy with algae.  We eventually thought for all the hazards of trespassing, we would be better off on the land itself.  So we clambered back up the cliff and saw an incredible sight. At first it looked like more fish tanks as if we were approaching another fish farm, but then they revealed themselves to be ornamental ponds with an old stone edge and stone urns at each corner; a very attractive waterfall spilled from one pond to another. At the end of the final pond were a cluster of buildings.  Well, there was nothing for it, we had to get past those buildings.  We hoped to get back down on the beach because now the long sandy beach was not that far away.

Once more we were scuppered.  We crossed another tightly cropped lawn in front of more holiday homes, just as sturdy and beautiful as the previous ones, and found a tall fence in the way on the cliff top. Although the cliff to our right was only a few metres high here, the route was blocked by more huge boulders covered in a tangle of creepers.  No way would we get through here without breaking an ankle, we thought.

Jeremy and I had a conference to decide what to do next, and realised we were both whispering.  We were now trespassing on a very rich family’s estate and we did not know when we would meet burly security guards, Rottweilers or some irate old woman with a shotgun.  But we decided there was nothing for it – we had to go through this compound and try and head back to the cliff on the far side, hoping there was a gap in the fence where we could get beyond all this trouble.

Silently we headed inland along a stone pathway in front of the holiday homes.  Our worst fears were almost confirmed instantly – the garden next to us contained a brilliant blue swimming pool and sun bathing face down was a middle aged woman in two piece bikini, straps of the bra loosely dangling either side of her lounger.  We tiptoed past here, barely 3m from her face and entered a wooded area.  On the left were a series of smaller pools containing carp, the bottom of these pools seemed to have been painted as they were crystal blue.  We passed an enclosure with giant tortoises, and some cages with ring tailed lemur.  In the distance we saw cars parked and, horror of horrors, two gardeners having a break.  We could hear them chattering in Creole, but they were too intent on their smoking and tea drinking that they did not look in our direction.  Fortunately we noticed a track heading up to the right, back towards the cliff edge.  Hopefully we could get out of here without having to give explanations.

We walked quickly but without drawing attention to ourselves up this track and were soon in a thick woodland.  The track carried on to the back of the wood, but we thought it would be safer for us to cut into the thicket and keep out of sight, in case anyone were coming along the track itself – we could hear a chain saw going.  Yes another vision of my grizzly end was now in my mind along with the lion, shot gun, beaten up or arrest that was already cluttering it up.

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A gorgeous location – we can’t take the beach route – dare we walk up to the house?

As far as you can go – The Oldest Resident

This was not the only time I came up to Plantation House.  Other times I had an appointment with a much more aged inhabitant than the governor.  Out on the grassy meadow below Plantation House live three tortoises.  the oldest of which was Jonathan, at the time over 175 years old, or so it was believed.  Photographs taken in the late 1800s show him already at full size, and it is estimated to take about 50 years to reach that stage.  The tortoises came from the Seychelles, and the reason why Jonathan and his friends ended up here are lost in the mist of time.  Tortoises at one time were kept on board ships to be used as fresh meat – same as sea turtles.  But others were given as gifts.  I parked up on the roadside and crossed a stile to enter their paddock.  They are hard not to miss and I could see them pottering around in some rough grass over the far side of the field.  Treading carefully between the enormous piles of tortoise poo I reached the three of them – all within 20 feet of each other.  Jonathan is easy to spot, he looks more weatherworn and pockmarked than the younger two.  He was obviously aware of my presence but was not fazed by it – I was the latest in a steady stream of visitors he had dealt with over the centuries.  He munched away at the grass in front of him while I took a few photos and, without much though, started talking to him.  I thought about the things he must have seen, all the governors and parties, the festivals, the visitors gawping at him just like me.  What a noble beast, what a rock of tradition and history. With that he let out an enormous fart and plopped his manure behind him as he moved on to another patch of grass.

Never rely on animals to give you metaphors for human culture.