Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas, Trois Ilets and Empress Josephine

It was Christmas Day in the workhouse and when Oliver asked for more; he didn't get any!

Unlike John and Gisela who found an all you can eat/drink buffet for our Christmas dinner and had unlimited visits and wine refills at the beach front restaurant Ti Sable.

It had been a wet and windy night and morning so we were wary of another downpour but it kept fair as we walked to Ti Sable and for most of the afternoon as we were seated in a little cabin for four people with open walls although we had a roof. We enjoyed the casual ambiance with some younger diners around us popping out for a swim between courses and anything went as far as dress was concerned, it was definitely a case of ' No shirt – No shoes – Dribbly bottom - No Problem'.

We were extra careful getting back into the dink and making our way back to Elephants Child as we had had several refills on the excellent rosé.

It was Christmas Day in the workhouse and when Oliver asked for more; he didn't get any!

We were in one of my favorite anchorages , Grand Anse D'Arlet on the south east corner of Martinique. We sailed around from Marin passing Diamond Rock on the North side for a change and marveling again at the feats of engineering and logistics accomplished by the British sailors in establishing and maintaining a battery of cannons on the summit of this steep sided rock a couple of miles off the enemy coast. I bet some had sheltered in these caves in the side of the rock at times.

We were a little horrified to see a cruise ship at anchor in Grand Anse D'Arlet when we arrived but they moved on to another island that evening and they were a sailing cruise ship anyway.

We spent a few days here and even walked over to the next bay where we found the church to be packed with people even standing outside in their Sunday best but taking in the service and the beautiful singing from the choir.

We moved to Trois Islets beating up the Baie de Fort de France and could have sailed right to the anchorage but I wimped out and motored in cautiously which is just as well as I found the bottom on one attempt to anchor.

Our anchorage allows us to watch the players on the best golf course in the whole of Windward and Leeward islands. Gisela was almost persuaded to play a round there but decided to wait till she had her own clubs at her beck and call again.

We visited the birthplace of Marie Rose Tascher de Pagerie AKA Josephine Bonaparte and learned the story of the island girl who had grown up in a couple of rooms in this sugar factory after a hurricane had destroyed the family house and her father had destroyed the family fortune through gambling.

Her older sister was to go to France to marry into the aristocracy by arrangement. However she died and Marie Rose was sent in her stead. The rest, as they say, is history.

I had dropped history at school and our guide around the estate lead us through the soap opera of her life, having two children with her first husband but never being presented at court because he considered her not sufficiently cultured for royal circles. Then when he lost his head to the guillotine and she was imprisoned awaiting possible execution as an aristocrat she slept her way out of prison and into the dreams of Napoleon Bonaparte. Finally marrying him and being crowned empress of France. Her children from her first marriage and their descendants going on to be part of the royalty of Europe.

Funny that isn't it I had thought the whole purpose of the French revolution was to rid themselves of royalty?

Napoleon did divorce her when it was clear that she was not going to bear him a child but not before they had had many arguments over her extravagant spending. He was so incensed by this he passed a law which was part of the French legal system into the 20th century that said that a woman could only buy something with her husbands express permission.


Spotted this Vespa on the promenade.

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