Friday, 22 June 2018

Guest Post - From the High Seas to The Algarve by L S Fellows - Bookish World Cup - Portugal

I caught the travel bug early on, as a ten-year-old taking my first cruise without my parents.
No, they didn't bundle me into a packing crate and have me shipped halfway across the world (though that may have been what they hoped might happen!) It was a school trip, and along with my classmates I boarded the SS Nevasa in Southampton (having bade a tearful farewell to my parents hours earlier when the coach journey began)

The Iberian Peninsula awaited us, with stops scheduled at Vigo, Porto, Lisbon and Funchal.
But, first we had to get our sea legs!

We were placed in dorms - ours being Captain Cook - and one the second day we began lessons in makeshift classrooms. Primarily, we read about the explorers after whom our dormitories were named; Captain Cook, Vasco da Gama, Christopher Columbus ...and so on.

It's been a fair few years since that trip, but it made a huge impression on me. My first trip abroad without my parents (we'd only ever been as far as Jersey before!), my first passport and my first experience of foreign languages outside of school. Once we went ashore, bedecked in matching uniforms (a tiny green floral print on a white dress, with a coloured neck tie to identify our different groups - mine being yellow) we were hardly inconspicuous, and caught the eye of the locals who 'jabbered away' incessantly. I was entranced - and so began my love affair with language.

One of my greatest memories of the trip was visiting a Sardine factory in Porto. As you can imagine, ten-year-olds are not likely to be quiet when the stench of raw fish assaults them.

It was overwhelming, and to rub salt in the wound, when we were back on board ship, dinner consisted of ... sardines. Sometimes, adults are cruel, aren't they?

I can see the irony now, but as a child, all I saw was a gazillion other kids running from the dining room, retching at the thought of dinner that night.

Overnight, we sailed down to Lisbon, disembarking on a beautiful day to visit the sights.
As a tiny ten-year-old, looking up at the humongous statue of Christ made me feel dizzier than the previous night's sardine feast.

But, photos were obligatory, and after we had settled sufficiently for the teachers to take the regulatory snap, we headed off for lunch and an afternoon by the beach.

Who knew the mother of all waves would descend upon that beach and have us running for our lives back to safety? As I've said, I wasn't the tallest of children (even now, most teens tower over me), but I'm not kidding when I say those waves were gigantic. I think it was at that moment I recognised the dangers of the ocean for the first time. Let's just say, it wasn't anything like Weston-Super-Mare!

The final stop was in Funchal, Madeira where I had my first encounter with an exotic creature. Now, I'm no Gerald Durrell - not now and especially not then - so my screams may have come across as excessive, but the lizard strolling along the wall I had chosen to perch on and eat my lunch may well have been a dinosaur. I've seen several geckos since, and I can assure you I no longer scream, but nor do I stop to play, or take photos or admire in any way.
Traumatic experiences can last a lifetime.

At the outset, I mentioned I caught the travel bug - and, indeed I did - although maybe a more sanitised version of what it was then in the 70s. While that cruise introduced me to a whole new world, it also left me with a few minor issues. I can't stomach sushi (I blame the Sardine Factory), I'm scared of the sea ( because of those demon waves) and I'm not Nature's hugest fan. But I did find my love of words following that trip. Was it inevitable that I chose to write? Who knows? But, travelling has certainly played its part in my stories. And, Portugal features heavily in the story that has since spawned its own series.

The Fifth Wheel is set in the Algarve, where the stunning beaches and busy night-life attract many a British holidaymaker. My characters expect to simply enjoy the sunshine and relax, have fun and eat well. But, of course, there is much more at stake than they realise.

Thank you L S Fellows for sharing with us this fabulous trip to Portugal, I love cruising myself but still not been to Portugal. 

Fern Mortimer has mastered the art of being invisible. Since a hit and run accident five years ago left her wheelchair-bound, she has become a recluse in her parents' home. 

After finally venturing back into the real world, she struggles to make friends and trust anyone. Getting the nickname of The Ice Queen at her new place of work does little to build her confidence.
However, one young woman, Nessa Sullivan, sees through Fern's mask and is determined to be her friend. A mission that only months later sees Fern joining Nessa and three others on a well-deserved and much-needed holiday to the Portuguese Algarve.

During the holiday, Fern is seduced by a handsome restaurant manager, raising her mood and her hopes of a romantic entanglement whilst also robbing her of her usual common sense and sound judgement.

So, why is her wheelchair now lying capsized in the infinity pool and a body is spotted out at sea? Where is Fern Mortimer?

The story continues in "Casualty of Court", which also introduces The Blackleaf Agency Series.


  1. This whole Bookish World Cup idea really caught my attention - I love it, and all the amazing posts to date.
    Thanks for letting me take part. I'm looking forward to reading those posts still to come (in between watching the football too) :)

  2. I can't take to sushi either!! Bleuuggh! And seasick just looking at waves!!

    1. I know! Sushi's just wrong :) Thanks for popping by, Julie.

  3. Brought back memories of my school trip too although mine was to Austria. I was seasick just going from Folkestone to Calais!

    1. The next year we did the coach trip to The Black Forest in Germany - give me a ship every time! School trips were pretty awesome, weren't they?

  4. Replies
    1. It was, Linda. We had some fabulous school trips, both on land and sea.
      Thanks for dropping by.

  5. This was such a fun post. I've never been on a cruise and I've never been to any of the places you've mentioned, but I feel that same travel bug when I read what you've written. I've also never heard of the Bookish World Cup--sounds interesting!

    1. Amy, I've loved being on the sea ever since - not so much in it though!
      You can check out the Bookish World cup on Rachel's page - for each participating country there's a guest post with a book-related link. Pretty clever idea, I thought.
      Thanks for visiting, I'm glad you enjoyed the post, and caught the travel bug with me :)

  6. "...but the lizard strolling along the wall I had chosen to perch on and eat my lunch may well have been a dinosaur." Love it! 😁

    Not a sushi fan either, but I am a fan of "The Fifth Wheel!" Great read! 👍

  7. Aww, thanks, Felicia. After England scored 6 goals in their World Cup game against Panamá, you've made a wonderful day even better!
    By the way, I didn't exaggerate about that lizard. OK, maybe a teensy weensy bit ;)


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