At last - as promised - I'm going to tell you about Frogs and Frigate birds: Over the Hill (me) and my exploits in Ecuador.
I had such fun writing this book. I'd had such a wonderful time that reliving it so the writing was sheer joy. From the busy streets of Quito to the steam of the rainforest to the volcanoes in the mountains to the smiles on the faces of the turtles in the Galápagos Islands - writing this book was like doing it all over again.
I also had several challenges. Firstly: how to unpick why I loved Ecuador so much. After all, woman has nice time in South America is hardly a story. You'll have to judge for yourselves if I got to grips with that.
And then I wanted to explore the efforts Ecuador has made to address environmental issues, some of which are starkly played out here. But I had to do so without sending the reader to sleep - after all, is there anything original still to be said about the need to protect our planet? We don't need more preaching. I hope this extract shows you how I managed that one:
The forest is a metropolis of insects at night. We step over the leaf-cutter ants that carve a highway across our path. Moths and crickets fill the air with chirruping. Spiders build webs. Jhon (our guide) asks us to turn our torches off for a whole minute. In that time the dark grows thick, as if it has texture and we must cut our way through it. Even with time for my eyes to adjust I can see nothing. Yet the sound of every croaking frog or cracked twig is magnified in the darkness, a crescendo of jungle choruses.
We turn our torches on again and amble on. Jhon knows where to look to find the tarantula spider. It is, of course, as big and hairy as I’d expect. The Swiss woman is intrigued and peers closely at it. I am happy to stand behind her. A little further on he finds a banana spider, a small, grey innocuous-looking creature that I am happy to inspect in detail until he tells me that it is even more venomous than a tarantula urine.
Within a week of returning to England I will learn that agreement has been reached between the Ecuadorian government and a Chinese oil company, giving them permission to build one small dirt track into the National Park and to drill for oil. I cannot find a map, and so have no idea exactly where this oil well will be located. Nor if this agreement takes account of the giant otters. Or the howler monkeys. Or the tiny red frogs with baby-blue underparts.
I can’t help hoping that the oil men fall foul of the banana spiders and drown in a waterfall of poisonous wee.
So, there you have it. Now all you have to do is hop across to Amazon. Readers in the UK can click this link. It is also available on Amazon all over the world for those living elsewhere.