Buccaneers and Bathing Huts
Tales of Pirates, Tourists, Wrecks and Recipes –
…A Gastronmic Voyage From Calais to Cadiz
Published by FishesEye Publishing
Copyright 2009 Nigel Woodhead
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People are always asking you to put your writing into a “genre”, preferably one, and definitely not more than two… So where does this book fall, you may ask? Well, I’d prefer to leave you the pleasure of deciding that for yourself. To save any headline confusion, I’ll just say that this is not a travel guide as such, nor is it exclusively a history of piracy. In any case, I imagine that any self-respecting swashbuckler would turn in his watery grave to think that he was the subject of an over-serious study (and there are already plenty of those).
When I set out, my core premise, or excuse, for assembling the material in this book was, grosso modo: to seek out the former locations and remaining traces of pirate activity (in its widest sense: corsairs, privateers, buccaneers, invaders, smugglers) along what is roughly the Atlantic Coast, from Calais down and round into the gates of Mediterranean, ending more or less at Cadiz. And to speculate as to what the old corsair captains, or their latter day spiritual descendants, would find of interest along the coast today. As a result, it is a kind of scrapbook - or perhaps a Bouillabaisse - of history, geography, anthropology, piscatorial recipes, with a few linguistic croutons, and a gratin of humour thrown in. A sort of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Pirate Ports. It is a story of privateers and princesses, of smugglers and slavers, speculators and swindlers, of raiders, day-trippers and tourists, of lighthouses, wreckers and wrecks. And in particular, of the very “special” relationship that the English have had with the peoples and places of the continental coastline over the centuries. A relationship traditionally based on enmity, raids of one kind of another - more recently metamorphosing into an “entente cordiale” of shoppers, motorists and emigrants.