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Published: July 13th 2011
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.
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