Following a period of ill health, resulting probably from his experiences in the 1914-18 war, my father Lennox Napier, then aged 40, departed on a convalescent cruise to the West Indies early in 1932 accompanied by my mother; they fell in love with Dominica at first sight and were delighted to find that an American, Holly Knapp, whom my father had befriended some years previously in Tahiti, was now living in a house close to the present Seacliff Cottages.
My parents came to an instant decision that they too would like to live in Dominica, sacrificing a well paid directorship and large house in London and buying eight acres of land at Pointe Baptiste, after which they made arrangements with my future brother-in law Percy Agar to build what is now the Small House. They returned to Dominica in November 1932 with my half sister Daphne Agar, my sister Patricia Honychurch, and myself, then aged four.
The Main House, designed by my father with help from a local architect, was constructed during the following two years using pitch-pine imported from Canada. It was more strongly built than accords with current practice in order to provide maximum protection against hurricanes such as those which occurred in 1925, 1928 and 1930.
A keen gardener, my father spent much time beautifying the estate and created two flourishing vegetable gardens, alas not subsequently maintained. The beaches in those days were strictly private and bathing suits were often dispensed with. There were no roads to the south of the island so journeys to Roseau involved driving to Portsmouth and then a three hour boat journey along the leeward coast, stopping at villages on the way.
In 1934 my parents discovered a beautiful and unspoiled area where the Ti-Branche and Hampstead Rivers join and after acquiring fifty acres of land built a two bedroom house and adjacent kitchen with a veranda overlooking rivers and virgin forest. The only practical means of access was a path, now abandoned, starting from Hampstead Bridge and involved crossing the river six times. I have lovely memories of stays there of up to three days much of it spent fishing for mullet and catching river crawfish.
My parents took a great interest in local affairs which resulted in my father's election to the Dominica Legislative Council with a constituency stretching from Vieille Case to Rosalie. Unfortunately his health deteriorated and he died in 1940 of tuberculosis, aged only 48.
Our neighbour Holly Knapp died soon afterwards, being buried on the estate close to my parents. I remember a kind and intelligent man who had a well-stocked library and with whom I used to play chess.
My mother Elma Napier lived on for 33 years at Pointe Baptiste after my father's death, writing several books and taking over his interest in community affairs, eventually having her portrait on a postage stamp as being the first woman to be elected to a West Indian legislature. Crime was virtually nonexistent in those days and the house never used to be closed.
On my mothers death in 1973, the estate, by then expanded to the present 25 acres, passed to me. Major transformations included the installation of an electrical supply (lighting was previously by oil lamps and there was no fridge) and piped water, the construction of the east terrace and the building of the staff house.
Although recent years have seen much local development, Pointe Baptiste itself has remained unspoiled and the adjacent village of Calibishie is still one of the loveliest and most friendly on the island. In a world which is becoming increasingly uniform, it remains a place which is different amid an environment of outstanding natural beauty.