While I ponder on the delicate issue of how to tell the very personal tale that came to an incredible full circle recently, I have been examining my life and all the component parts that make up ‘me’ as a person. One important element is my love of nature. As a child growing up in post war Birmingham, which was reinventing itself as a shiny mish-mash of glass and concrete, I gravitated towards the ‘bomb pecks’, wasteland areas of rubble and scrub where I could pretend I was in the country.
My fascination with flora and fauna started there. Ladybirds, red, yellow and orange with six eight or too-many-to-count spots; white cabbage butterflies leaving clusters of tiny yellow eggs; tiny grubs attached to backs of leaves with nests of gossamer spider-thread or mounds of spit. But my absolute favourites were the giant caterpillars covered in luxurious hairs in shades of orange, brown and gold we children called “hairy Marys”. I’d place one on my hand and watch with delight as it shimmied up my arm, tickling me as it travelled. It was rumoured that they were poisonous or would give you a rash, but I knew this wasn’t true because I’d handled dozens of them. It’s no surprise to me that my love of wildlife has stayed with me into adulthood.
Even though this sailing trip has been marred for me by various life events and the subsequent tensions between Martin and I, the sight of a new creature or a familiar one in an eye-catching exotic environment still leaves me brimming with wonder and delight. The Caribbean Islands we have visited so far have provided a wealth of unusual cacti, shrubs, flowers and animals for me to discover as we journey on through.
Our own two dogs, Bonny and Buzz, have thoroughly enjoyed the adventure, although Buzz, as ever, is a very difficult dog to manage – another bone of contention (no pun intended!)
It’s a pity that we’ve spent far too much time wrangling with each other and not nearly enough enjoying the wonders that these islands contain, just waiting to be found. But then, we human animals are the most fascinating – and complicated – of all…