Published: April 6th 2012
April 6th 2012
Tuesday March 27th – Cape Town
On the way to Heathrow Airport, Di asked whether I was feeling excited about the prospect of being away on St Helena for a year. My answer was that, at this moment, it feels just like going to the hospital for an operation. Farewells are difficult and painful, particularly if one is used to being part of a family and part of a couple. Once through the departure gate I felt things lighten up and I began to feel more positive about the (ad)venture ahead.
The flight to Cape Town was, thankfully, uneventful – except somewhere hidden on my ticket must have been placed the instruction ‘Place this passenger in the nursery section’! Within a child’s plastic toy’s throw from where I was sitting there were 6 mewling infants who quite clearly didn’t appreciate being hoisted 35,000 feet above their natural habitat. Either solo, in unison or as a choir baby cries were present throughout the night. As a grandfather of four delightful grandchildren, you will know that I don’t automatically take a dislike to all children – but I wasn’t feeling too well disposed during the flight. I only hope that the parents had really good reasons for taking their offspring so far and for disturbing my precious sleep. Let’s hope they weren’t being taken to see the wild animals on safari – my suggestion is that Dudley Zoo would be a better bet! On the other hand maybe the parents were South Africans returning from a midlands safari!
An evening meal at the Waterfront in Cape Town – what a delight! Out door eating, the gentle scent of the sea coming in on a zephyr from the joining of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Energetic live music from a choir similar to that used by Paul Simon on ‘Gracelands’ – you know what I mean. A lovely meal accompanied by a most delightful glass of South African Pinotage as shimmering clouds danced over the edge of Table Mountain. Maybe this visit is picking up!
Wednesday March 28th
Despite the hotel’s fire alarm going off at 2.00 am (which everybody seemed to ignore –
including me) I managed to catch up with the previous infant-infested lack of sleep. Pottering around the city before embarking on the RMS St Helena late afternoon. I’m now travelling north-west towards the sun sinking in the South Atlantic – tough, eh?
Saturday March 31st
Perhaps it’s because I’ve travelled this way before but the ship’s crossing of the South Atlantic has seemed pleasantly uneventful. Except, of course, for the phone call from the island to the ship (only done in cases of emergency) that led to the Tannoy announcement for ‘Mr. Theobalds to come to the purser’s office, please.’ On being told that I need to phone the island as a matter of urgency I feared (of course) the worst. Something at home, perhaps? No, but something serious had occurred. Apparently I had been mugged, at the very start of my journey, in Manila . I felt myself for any bumps and bruises, felt OK and then remembered that I was on the way to St. Helena which is several continents away from the Philippines.! Many thanks to all of you have contributed to my rescue fund, which currently stands at 18p + some incidental pre-Euro continental coins. Next time I am over that way I shall call and collect!
Monday 2nd April
Arrived to a very warm welcome. No obvious physical signs of changes being brought about by the beginnings of the airport contract but I sense a different level of urgency in discussions related to the island’s economy and its future – but perhaps I’m just being a little fanciful. I’ll get back to you on that.
Wednesday 4th April
Gate-crashed a small leaving do at the Governor’s place (Plantation) this afternoon. He and his wife were extremely pleasant and gave the leaving acting Director of Education a warm send off. As well they might as John has worked extremely hard and successfully to get education a higher profile on the island – both in terms of priority action as well as better funding. It’s up to us now to build upon that legacy.
Thursday 5th April
After a busy and pleasant short week (a combination of meetings, settling into my new house at New Ground and struggling with both internet connection and collection of personal goods from the customs) a small group met at Donny’s for an end of the week drink. A thoroughly pleasant evening that led to an invite to a barbecue on Easter Monday. With a tour of the island on Saturday with some folk I met on the ship and a dolphin spotting boat trip on Sunday it seems to have been a good start to my year on the island.
Friday 5th April
Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head –
remember that line? Well, more falling rather than jumping I decided on a purposeful day. Sorted the internet connection out (if you receive this blog then you will know that I’ve been successful) and then went for a walk/run in the area around my house – clearly far more of the former rather than the latter. After a promising start I ended up in a wood round the back of ‘Plantation’. Although I felt I had some sense of direction of where I should be making for I soon got a little lost. Walking through some sweet-scented pine woods (hearing once again that delightful shell-like sound made by frogs) I found myself at the top of a very steep hill that descended into thick undergrowth. Perhaps a little foolishly I decided to start the scramble down hill. Well, I can only say how pleased I am that not all the flax has been taken from the island as those strong and firm leaves anchored me and prevented a rather unfortunate ending to a promising career on the island. Rather warm and worse for wear I eventually arrived at the bottom of the hill, crashing into someone’s back garden. Both the husband and wife took this uninvited entry into their garden by a complete stranger completely in their stride – not even a look of astonishment at the sight of this very warm and bedraggled appearance. Let’s hope for a quiet remainder of the day.