Arriving at St Helena

Oceans and Seas » Atlantic » Saint Helena
July 13th 2011
Published: July 13th 2011
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Travelblog St Helena

1. Busy making preparations for the trip to St Helena making sure that I've got everything I need but travelling as light as possible. Leaving Birmingham to Cape Town via Dubai @ 2:40 Weds 6th July 2011. Should have a chance to see a little of Cape Town before catching RMS St Helena for the 5 day ‘cruise’. Limited internet on board so next blog might be from the island.

2. Friday July 8th

After a 24 hour marathon journey to Cape Town via Dubai, we found the sun shining and Table Mountain clear of cloud – apparently it is not unusual for the top to be covered with a ‘table cloth’ of cloud. The trip up the cable car was uneventful and rather less exciting than I had hoped for. The views from the top were stunning – a good afternoon.

Thursday evening was spent at the ‘Waterfront’, enjoying our meal and getting to know each other as a team – pretty important as we are meant to be working together to support the education system in St Helena. We had some good talk and some fine laughs – I think that we’re going to get on famously, despite the considerable age range. Obviously I am the grandfather of the group – it’s about time they showed some due deference.
Woke up Friday morning with crystal clear skies once again over Cape Town. The day has really centred on getting aboard the RMS St Helena and getting our sea legs now that we are in the south Atlantic. First impressions of the ship are very positive – about 70 passengers – I’m sure that we will get to know each other well over the next few days.
Passengers on board seem to be mainly ‘Saints’ from the island returning home, either after a trip to Europe or young people who have lived overseas for many years coming back for a holiday trip. Coming up to six o’ clock when the bar opens – perhaps time for a gin and tonic, but who knows maybe there is a Campari available!

Saturday July 9th
Yet another warm and cloudless day on board RMH St Helena. I troubled the gym for some exercise for a brief period of time with a determination to reduce calorific intake at the endless opportunities to take-on food.
This evening we have been invited to the Captain’s Cocktail Party – actually all 77 passengers have been invited, so there’s no selection involved. I have high hopes of our team winning the Music Quiz this evening as we cover most decades of interest through our wide age range. I guess I will have to listen out for any Michael Holiday and ‘Sparkie and His Magic Piano’ references in order to play my part!

Monday July 9th
What a wonderful way to travel. With so few passengers one soon gets talking to folk with interesting lives and stories from all over the world. However, most of the passengers are ‘Saints’, often returning from long absences away from the island – indeed some are ‘Saints’ through their parentage and have never lived on St Helena.
Many folk are rather interested in what the team is planning (and expected) to do on the island – some have cautioned us not to have too high expectations! We will see.
Of course the music quiz was a great success for us – as was the general knowledge quiz, which we also won – I’m not certain that many of the passengers realised that our resurrected name ‘In First Place’ was meant to be taken with some irony rather than arrogance!

Wednesday June 12th
The five days on RMS St Helena has been a wonderful experience. Passengers have been fun and all members of the crew have been excellent. The barbecue on the sundeck last night was enjoyed by all. Your correspondent, as always, retained his sense of decorum and imbibed gin and tonics at a sensible pace – if only others had his sense of self control and denial!

The arrival at St Helena as the sun rose was quite an occasion – a pretty desolate cliff of rock that emerges out of a rather grey Atlantic Ocean. One can’t help but think of the disappointment of sailors centuries ago spotting their first sight of land after many weeks at sea – at first there is not much to engender hope that there is much comfort on this rock.

However, the reality is quite different. We thought that the children’s choir singing on the quayside was there to welcome us but, of course, they were celebrating the return of their athletes from the ‘Island Games’. After a team lunch with the island’s education officers, I managed to escape and drove round half of the island in my fairly battered hire car. What a beautiful place – varied and green landscape wherever I drove. The roads are a little tricky but other drivers are enormously courteous – a wave to every driver who passes, whether they have been helpful or not.

I will sort some photographs out shortly and will attach them to another blog entry – if you cannot bear to wait, why not try the St Helena page on Facebook that will give you some idea of the St Helena Town and Country.

Speaking of which, I await to hear news of the exploits of the Town and Country squad at the weekend’s Olympian games.


14th July 2011

News from the Old Country
Thanks for the update and I'm pleased to learn that you've got to St Helena without mishap. The Olympian Games in Much Wenlock seemed to run well, and the website is being updated with results, photos etc. on a daily basis - I know that the part that will fascinate you will be the crown green bowls tournament. The day was showery but, first off and before any precipitation, were Pritchard and Perry who managed to scrape 3 points before their opponents reached 21. Later in the morning, Rudge and Turner hadn’t appreciated that they were leading 19-13 when they scuppered their chances by placing the jack close to the gulley, dropping all four woods into it and leaving their aged opponents laughing all the way to 21. After lunch and a long wait, Gibson and Wood finally stepped onto the greensward against a husband and wife team and started strongly. After a couple of ends the rain, which had been evident in short measure during the day, started with a vengeance and, by the time of their 21-18 defeat, our brave lads were soaked to the skin. Wood’s wife was there to offer moral support, but Gibson declined the chance of being photographed when he removed his shirt to change into dry clothing, thus denying Facebook of a popular snap. This evening (Wednesday), Turner had to visit his sports physiotherapist as a direct result of over-training in recent weeks thus delaying his participation in a match involving Gibson, Richards, Rudge and Wood. In a couple of closely-fought games, Gibson bowled a couple of googlies, Richards wasn’t sure what side he was playing on and Turner and Rudge had a bit of a spat about hand signals. The evening concluded at the pottery (or, in the case of Town & Country, outside warmed by a chiminea) with a quiz, with the letter “A” being the theme throughout. After a promising start in which only “Blob Revived” excelled, Town & Country (without Rudge, but including Perry) slipped behind the ladies to finish at 7th place versus the girls’ achievement of 4th. In other news, the Town Council’s working group won the Shropshire Community Award in the Pride of Shropshire Awards. Also, the Town Council has a vacancy and a polymath with international experience is probably the sort of candidate that will have popular appeal as Much Wenlock welcomes the 2012 London Olympic Games.
14th July 2011

Hi Michael So good to read your 'blog' so far - please keep it coming! Glad you enjoyed your brief stay in Cape Town. I have encountered both the 'table cloth' and stunning views from the summit. The cruise across also sounds most enjoyable, especially the parts involving gin and tonic. It sounds as though you're going to get on and work well as a team in St H, hope that the schools are receptive and positive about your support. Look forward to your next entry, Jenny :)

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