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Date: 25 Jan 2011 21:26:04
Title: Hermitage Plantation Inn with monkeys

Hermitage Plantation Hotel, Tuesday afternoon
 
Andrea and I have been at this hotel since yesterday lunchtime - it's a stunning place half-way up the central volacano on Nevis. All the plantation hotels are built on old sugar farms and the rooms are spread around in small cottages and they're a feature of Nevis.
 
We left Saxon Blue yesterday morning after moving her to the third mooring buoy we'd been on off Pinney's Beach. The reggae got too loud on Sunday night so we moved down to the last buoy to get away from it. We all had a peaceful night so it was worth the effort but Kali wanted to be a bit nearer the beach and less exposed to the wash from passing vessels so we moved again first thing on Monday morning. Hopefully, it's been an ideal spot for her as she's been onboard looking after the boat while Andrea and I swank about ashore.
 
It took us a fair while to get ashore as we had to have a swim and then pack all our stuff in between dodging rain showers. In the end, we managed to leave with two huge bags containing all our gear. So much for travelling light. As we pulled into the dock, a local guy asked us if we needed a taxi so that was an easy contact to make. I thought it was very enterprising of him. He was an older guy, called Sidney, and he was clearly more interested in getting a fare than the other young guys who were just sitting about outside the docks area. He waited chatting to Andrea and Kali while I found an ATM and then we set off in his rickety old minibus. Kali was getting a free ride to the hotel and back, courtesy of Sidney who was very proud to have her sitting up next to him in the front.
 
As we went, he gave us a guided tour but, as he spoke really slowly, he kept having to decide whether to tell us the next bit or carry on with the last so it was pretty hit and miss. He was at pains to point out that Nevis has more history than any other Caribbean island although I wasn't sure what unit of measurement he was using. They're very proud that Nelson got married here but it was an unhappy shotgun wedding as a result of him needing twenty thousand pounds in a hurry from the unfortunate woman's relative.
 
Andrea had picked out the Hermitage as the nicest sounding of the plantation inns on the island and then secured a hugely discounted rate. She did a good job as it's lovely. The main house is the oldest wooden building in the Caribbean, built in 1670. The framework is made strong with mortice and tennon joints using a now-extinct local tree. There are other original buildings around including one that functioned as a water purifier and cooler for the plantation owner. They've moved some other old building onto the site and then built a load more with old techniques and designs so they look authentic and work well at keeping cool. The wooden walls keep the heat of the day out and then cool down quickly at night. There are shutters in all the windows with mossie screens so there's always airflow. Our bed is a proper 4-poster with a mossie net over it so we had a lovely cool night with no pitching around and no bugs. Bliss.
 
Kali stayed for lunch with us then set off back to Saxon Blue and we went for a walk up the hill to see if we could find a photogenic sugar factory ruin for Andrea to film. We found an old mill but it had been converted into a modern house so that was no use. We also found a lot of goats and a couple of monkeys so we had a good time. The views were great over the island. Most of it is forested although this is apparently second-growth over the old sugar plantations. The gardens are wonderful, full of large-leaved tropical plants and bright flowers. There are hummingbirds flying around and the hotel has a feeder for them so they flit about overhead as the guests have their food on the terrace.
 
After our walk, we sat on our verandah and watched a whole troop of monkeys move from the woods below the hotel gardens on up the hill. There were about 100 of them in all. Every one had to walk along the top of an old gate below where we were watching. An old one sat in the middle, getting right in the way so one of the little ones just scampered across the gate and straight over the old one's head as if it was a branch. After all that entertainment, dinner was superb. I had lobster and Andrea Mahi Mahi followed by huge puddings so we were both really stuffed when we went back to our cottage.
 
This morning, we had a leisurely breakfast and continued our discussions of our itinerary for the next stage of our voyage. I've been feeling very unsettled without a proper plan so we decided to write down where we want to go and roughly how long we think it will all take. We also revisited where to leave Saxon Blue when we head back to the UK. In the end, we came back to the idea of putting her in a cradle in Antigua but it was good to start again from scratch and see if we came up with the same conclusion Then we worked out what islands we want to visit and how long we think we'll want to stay in each one. The list seems to take us down to Dominica in the South and then back up to Antigua and will occupy us until it's time to come home. If we get that lot done, we'll have had a good look at the Caribbean although it will still leave some other islands for another time.
 
Once we'd got that lot sorted out, it was time for another lovely lunch then some Janeway filming in the grounds of the hotel. It's really hot outside now and that's with us at 800 feet up. Goodness knows how hot it is down on the beach. We're trying to build up an appetite for our dinner tonight as it's Burns Night so there's Haggis and all sorts on the menu. Maybe we'll get to indulge in all the traditional Scottish pursuits like doing the Birdie Song and getting completely plastered. I can't wait.
 
Harvey

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