Passport: Marilyn Bowering - `It was the first time I'd seen trees cased in ice'

After I finished my Masters degree, I went to the island of Paros in Greece. I desperately just wanted to be anywhere away from Vancouver Island, where I grew up, I was young and I wanted to write. I had a Canada Council grant and wrote some poetry and started a novel. I spent about a year there until I knew it was time to leave. That seems to be my pattern: I am happy to be somewhere for a year or two, and then I always feel the need to go back home.

"Whenever I travel I always expect to be able to produce some work, but rarely has that happened. In 1992, when I was in Seville, I was trying to write the part in my book which is set in the Arctic. I was sitting there in 45C heat and it was impossible - I could not do it, I was blocked, and that lasted for nearly two years."

Back in the colder climes of Canada, Marilyn was able to finish her novel, set in Winnipeg, with dramatic scenes in Korea and the Polar ice- cap.

Although entitled to a British passport because of her Scottish husband and English grandfather, she travels on her Canadian one: "I've travelled with both. It is a shame they don't put many stamps in passports these days, but I have kept my old ones to remind me of my travels".

In the winter of 1986, pregnant with her only child, Marilyn and her husband decided to go to Europe, convinced that parenthood would curtail their adventures. "I decided that, as I was going to have a child, I would never travel again and that would be it. So we took off."

They hired a car and drove to Cologne and through the Ardennes. "Oddly enough, it was the first time I'd seen trees cased in ice." Vancouver Island, in the south west, has a temperate climate and doesn't get hard winters like the rest of Canada.

"We stopped in a village near Malmedy, in Belgium, to look at a memorial to 26 American soldiers who had been shot by the Germans during the Second World War. A lady came out of her cottage to ask what we were doing - she had seen our German licence plates and wanted to check up on us. We talked and she invited us into her house for coffee and told us her story. As a young girl, she had been taken to see the bodies of those young boys. When we met her, it was Christmas time and close to the anniversary of their deaths.

Because of Christmas, a lot of the shops were closed. "In Clervaux, in Luxembourg, I was wandering around window-shopping when I spotted this ceramic pear-shaped bottle. It was beautiful: rosy and gold with a little green leaf on it. I fell in love with it - it really was exactly the same sensation as falling in love - but I couldn't do anything about it because the shop was closed.

Two days later, I told my husband I had to go back for it - I just had to have it. It was very emotional and totally irrational, but I bought it. Years later, I sprayed oven- cleaner on it and ruined it, but that is another story!"

Novelist Marilyn Bowering's latest book, `Visible Worlds', is published by Flamingo, pounds 10.99.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz