I have landed in Paradise.
“Welcome to Goldeneye,” says a charming black woman dressed in white. “Here is the house cocktail, it’s just a little rum, fresh apple and lime. You’ll be staying in the Ian Fleming Villa. There is a private beach, pool, several bedrooms each with their own outside bath and shower, any laundry you have just put it in the basket over there and housekeeping will collect it, the mini bar is over there, just help yourself, should you have too many Goldeneye’s and collapse there is an emergency medical button you can push for help, your masseur will be here at six. Nico, our personal trainer (Italian, very muscular) is on-hand to take you jet-skiing, running, canoeing, whatever you like. Can I do anything else for you?”
I am writing this at the desk Ian Fleming tapped out all the Bond novels on a gold-plated Royal typewriter. There was something impressively vulgar about the man’s taste, but not his house; it’s a masterpiece of minimalism. The room I am in is as big as the whole first floor of Sainte Cecile, the window stretches across almost the whole wall. Outside I can hear the sea lapping on my private raked beach, a chicken who has decided to visit, crickets, tree-frogs and various other Caribbean creatures.
Patrick Leigh Fermor describes the house brilliantly in his book The Traveller’s Tree: “Here, on the headland, Ian Fleming has built a house called Goldeneye that might serve as a model for new houses in the tropics. Trees surround it on all sides except the sea, which it almost overhangs. Great windows capture every breeze, to cool, even on the hottest day, the large white rooms. The windows that look towards the sea are glassless but equipped with outside shutters against rain: enormous quadrilaterals surrounded by dark wooden frames which enclose a prospect of sea and cloud and sky, and tame the elements, as it were, into an overhanging fresco of which one could never tire.”
Let me try to describe my bathroom. It is outside, in a sort of secret, bamboo walled garden, filled with exotic plants. In the evening over-sized candles light your way to a free-standing Victorian bath amid palm trees on a wood-panelled stage. To the left is a large shower and next to the bedroom door a rectangular marble slab with a brass sink on top of it. A large mirror hangs above it, its frame made up of tiny shells. In this mirror you can see a full-length view of yourself in the one behind which stands against a trellis at the other end of the garden-bathroom. This may not please all the guests but I guess Scarlett Johanssen, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, all of whom come here regularly, enjoy the view.
The ground between the two mirrors is covered with pale, old stone. It is lovely to think that Ian Fleming must have padded about here barefoot as he prepared to take his pre-cocktail bath underneath the stars, plotting Bond’s next move. The ground in the rest of the ‘room’ is a mixture of flagstones and tiny stones, candles are dotted about as well as plants; some vibrant green, some bright red and pink, no other decoration is needed. Half of the area is protected by a wooden awning, but if it is raining and you want a bath you will have to have a shower as well.
Last night we had dinner on the beach. The stairs was lit by large candles. A table was laid and we sat under the stars, listening to the sound of the waves, and ate prawns, fish and steak. This was washed down with a couple of glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. In the distance, you could make out the sound of a Bob Marley song. There is always a snake in paradise.
I will more or less follow Ian Fleming’s pattern of life while I’m here. Get up early (as I write it is 5.30am), go for a swim (I’ll do some sun salutes of course too), have breakfast, write until lunchtime, lunch, afternoon nap, more writing, cocktails, dinner. What’s not to like? Though I’m not sure where I’ll be able to fit in the Italian personal trainer. Unless I can distract my husband…
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007