Battle with creatures from the deep

Oceans and Seas » Atlantic » Saint Helena
July 24th 2011
Published: July 24th 2011
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Saturday July 23rd
You will of course wish to know about the Tea Dance and how well I disported myself – my laptop Thesaurus suggests ‘posed swaggered and flaunted’ as appropriate alternative words but, I’m afraid, I failed to live up to any of these suggestions. Perhaps ‘loitered’ might be a better description as I found that tripping the two-step or a waltz was a challenge too far for this explorer of the South Atlantic. Needless to say the dance was as charming as everything else found so far on the island. I rejected the occasional suggestion that I might take to the dance floor with the usual unspecific wound and injury collected at a previous time. I know – what a wimp!

Saturday was a busy and interesting day that took us to new parts of the island. Longwood was an interesting visit – although it confirms my previously held view of Napoleon as a visionary but mean-spirited soul who saw himself as the centre of his world and that of every one else. However, to impose his will on that of France and her Empire in an obviously pre-electronic age suggests communication and personal qualities of extreme magnetism. The gardens at Longwood were particularly fine, colourful and (again) charming.

Four of the group then traipsed up Flagstaff - a high peak on the north coast of the island. Apparently its name came from the communication system (based on flags) that was set up to warn guards that an attempt to rescue Napoleon was imminent. Perhaps it is fortunate that no such attempt was made (maybe the French had had enough of him too) as this part of the island can suffer from dense cloud and poor visibility – making sighting of either flag or rescue ships problematic. However, as with previous days on this adventure, the weather was fine and clear – no sign of marauding ships but there was an almost miraculous display by hundreds of dolphins two thousand feet below.

Garry will be pleased to hear that the day concluded with another trip to the gymnasium – I now have my own personal key to enable out of hours use!

Sunday July 24th
The fishing trip was an undoubted success for your correspondent! Not only did we get extremely close contact with whales and dolphins (one we reckoned leapt at least ten feet in the air – using land-feet, not nautical whose measurement system remains a mystery). One thing that is spectacular is that very close to the rocky coastline the seabed falls immediately to almost bottomless depths – no Weston Super Mare sands (mudflats) to be seen as, here in the middle of the Atlantic the tide never goes out. For Weston, Iain whose uncle ran a pub in Lancashire, read Morecombe. The sun shone after the early morning clouds were burnt off – and this formed an ideal backdrop as your traveller-blogger battled against the elements in the burning sun to catch a greater number, greater variety and (in my opinion) larger fish than the other fisher folk on board. Through the obvious fishing dexterity that comes natural to someone born alongside the Thames at Dagenham I caught two Jacks (look them up as their shape and colour defeats description my me; a Soldier fish which is a smaller but fearsome creature covered in sharp spines at every possible part of its body – one of which drew blood from a cut on my small finger of the left hand. Despite this wound (which continues to cause difficulty in writing this missive) I then went on to defeat the mightiest eel of this part of the ocean. This creature of the deep fought with enormous vigour but eventually had to concede defeat to the fishing skills (previously undeveloped) of your correspondent. Obviously dinner for the next few evenings will be of the fishy variety!


24th July 2011

I wasn't when you announced that you were heading for the South Atlantic, but your description brings it to life. I want to visit the place (but I don't think I'd better dance).
26th July 2011

Fishing with that pesky eel
Hi Michael: Very impressed with your fishing skills especially with your battle with the conger eel. Talking of fish, Bill and I went to the Whitstable Oyster Festival on Sunday; I don't think I've seen so many oysters and they were delicious! It was a great day although very busy and lively. Do you remember when we were children we went there for a holiday; since then it has become a bit of an 'in' place. You sound if you are having a wonderful adventure in St Helena and its great to get your blogs. PS I had good news regarding my biopsies - they are all benign so life can begin again! lots of love Sandra x

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