Sunday, 14 April 2013

Summer Daze...

We've had a successful day so far, a moochy morning with toast and coffee in the sun. Headed off to pick up a few kilos of bacon, some sausages and by chance got a black pudding- a proper black pudding. Sunday dinner in St Helena is going to bear a close resemblance to an English breakfast.

In the afternoon we drove down to Horse Point to watch the RMS sailing by. Next time it comes up this way Nain and Taid will be onboard. You can imagine the level of excitement for yourself.

Last few weeks have been a happy mix of swimming (Pip now able to swim the full length of the 33m pool but chooses not to if asked to do so....), mooching in the sun, barbecues and... all the normal things that fill family life. The little things make a lot of difference here. One thing that has made us smile is a more or less constant supply of potatoes while the shops have seen none since January. People here like Pip- polite and ready with a smile and a wave- they've made sure she hasn't gone without. 

Summer is heading in to it's final days/weeks/minutes- can never be sure how long sun will last (or rain wind or other for that matter). We've had more rain the last few weeks- very welcome relief after several weeks of baking sun. The water levels in the reservoir on the "dry side" of the island are off critical.

The island measured approximately 4x6 miles, for the last month one half of the island has been on hose pipe bans and urged to save water wherever possible. Our side has been sunny but soggy. On the Easter weekend we went for what we thought would be a guaranteed dry walk down towards Cox's Battery. We walked for ten minutes then stood aghast as a solid wall of rain approached off the sea. I counted down from five then it hit. Another five seconds and we were drenched through. It lasted long enough for us to squidge our way back to the car, the dessert dust clung to our feet like clay. When the car dried out a few days later the caked mud just blew away.

The first day of rain came with the "Summer Sizzle" our big fundraiser for the school. Absolutely amazing. A year ago nothing seemed further away than standing on stage in my mac belting our specially modified song the "Harford Primary PTA". Pip did the Birdy Song dress in a pink sparkly bowler hat, a flower garland and bee wings. Rather distraught that I have no photos of that but you can have a few others instead.

Sploshy day down on wharf.

Ice-cream after a Sunday swim

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant!
Plo/Pilau on the beach with her friend.
Plo (rice, curry power and veg) is now a staple :-)

On the glass bottom boat. Before Pip had a go at steering and made lots of people queasy...

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Time flies...

15th January 2013- first of our second Christmas'
It's close to two months since I last wrote. Perhaps I'm not cut out for blogging. Perhaps I just need to find a more sensible way to do it- quite a fiddle getting on the computer, means I have to drag myself off the sofa. Life can be tough can't it?!

We've been happily bashing along here. Work is busy, Pip is busy, Bob is busy. Rather oddly for homebodies like ourselves we've been busy getting out and about. I think island life brings out the best in us.

We've had....

Burns' Night- absolutely fantastic. Very different and one we will never forget. Can not recommend highly enough if you ever happen to be passing- the food (including an extremely impressive first time go at a haggis), the speeches (very funny, rude about lots of people but not us), the decoration (Anne's Place is covered with flags from around the world, Burns' Night committee added some picture of the man himself), the setting (covered but open air just off the botanical gardens, waves crashing in the background) a very welcome night "off" thanks to the lovely Vanessa babysitting.

Lemon Valley- a boat trip on an extremely bumpy day. Very good to visit, a beautiful spot but no Lemon trees... looking forward to going back when roller season is out of the way!

Pancake Day- Races at school, Pip won her class race. Bob gives credit to the light-weight racing pan we bought her, I think it may be more to do with her being at least half a head taller than the next closest competitor. Bob cooked pancakes for the school... the whole school... about 120 in total. Apparently he's a "great tosser". I competed in the adult race in Jamestown- sprinting down the high street I found out I'm better at running and pancake flipping than standing still and doing it. Not sure when this skill will ever be used again but at least I know it's there if I need it.

Lots of swimming- before Christmas Pip was extremely reluctant to go near the water. Now she hurls herself in and is well on her way to being a completely water baby. Much better at swimming under water than on top of it and getting better every week.

A new trampoline- Pip is very happy to have her bounce back!

Bought a pig- someone rang up to ask if we were interested in some quality pork. Somehow this turned out to be a live pig. It was given it's last squeak the Bob and Pip went to supervise it's dismantling- there's more than one way to joint a beast. I was very pleased to see it turn up with a head or trotters to deal with. Even happier when Pip tucked into it oinking gleefully.

School disco- part of the delights of being on the PTA is helping with fundraisers. We've had a New Years disco and a Valentines one. Quite a hectic way to spend a Saturday evening but good fun- very impressed at the number of kids who are up and dancing, and not at all surprised to see Pip in the middle of them!

Late Christmas- two separate batches of late Christmas presents and cards. The thoughts and treats were ever so appreciated. It's extra good to be drawing out the experience- Christmas doesn't come once a year on St Helena, there's a mini-revival with every ship!

Glass bottomed boat trip- a chance to see some of the hidden delights of St Helena. Pip was allowed to drive which is another tick towards her plan to be a ships Captain when she grows up (or a hairdresser- she won't be pressured into deciding).

I know we've done much more on top of this but it's mostly just the normal adventures- picnics, dealing with oddities of St Helena life, enjoying the sun, missing home...

Will write something more interesting soon, but at least you have an idea of what we've been doing while we weren't keeping in touch.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas 2012

I sit here with arms aching from dragging a small donkey for a walk. Half an eye is on Pip as she ploughs through a packet of liquorice wheels. Another eye is watching Bob take a bucket of pea pods over to the goats. This doesn't leave much for writing so please excuse all spelling mistakes.

Christmas on St Helena has been quite different and rather lovely. Not sure I can pick out a highlight, don't really get the big highs and lows that you might get elsewhere. Everything just mooches along quite nicely. occasionally surprising you with something quite simple and quite special. It might be that everyone joins in in such a quiet, good spirited way. I sort of expected the carnival and parade to be a little more... something. They're pretty steady really but what is really impressive is the span of people you see dressed up and getting involved. No embarrassment, well perhaps a little but everyone is laughing with you. It can give one quite a warm fuzzy feeling.

We've had some wonderful walks too. Every time we make it out we're blindsided by just how stunning the place is. Will sort out a few photos of some of the views and put them into some sort of order- too many to just upload in one load.

Picnic on Flagstaff Hill, Christmas eve 2012

On the waterfront setting off to join the parade. Jacob's ladder in the background. "The Castle" home of St Helena Government is the white building on the left. 

The parade attracted onlookers of all shapes and sizes.

We all looked the part :-) (post office is the building behind us)

After dancing down the street the parade continued along the waterfront.

Really impressed at the efforts everyone made.
Yet another of the rather stunning views. This on was boxing day while a friend looked after Pip we got to have a little look out.

Really can't get to grips with how quickly everything changes here...

Friday, 7 December 2012

Looking up

I can tenatively say that the weather is improving. I'm pretty sure that the arrival of our tumble dryer (order 28th September) and waterproof trousers on the RMS this week will guarentee that neither are needed for several months. Shoes are drying out and noses are starting to peel. It's all good.

Work is busy- dealing with day-to-day, planning going forward, reviewing methodology (which would be greatly facilitated if everything had been written down to start with!), training and much more. Giving a talk at the local secondary school next week which makes my knees quite wobbly when I think about it... which I try not to!

School has been a whirlwind too- school plays, partys, trips and competitions are keeping Pip (and us!) busy. Pip says she's getting into the spirit of it now the weather is warming up, how quickly things changet!!

One of the biggest treats coming with the changing season is the stars. So many. So clear. So amazing!
They look different here- can't recognise any at the moment. I know we've got the Southern Hemisphere ones but we can still see lots of familiar Northern Hemisphere constellations, apparently- we can't find them! Probably hiding in all the others.

Day time sky can be pretty fancy too. This week a NASA published a satellite image of cloud vortices trailing from St Helena. Pretty fancy I think you'll agree.

Cloud vortices off St Helena.

Monday, 5 November 2012

A whale in James Bay!

Driving to work this morning I was in a mild Monday morning haze. Started down Side Path, typically mindful of several bends ahead so that I can pull over in a wide enough stopping point if there’s anything coming my way (up-hill gets priority). Big white sploosh in the water. Odd I thought then I realised- it’s only a whale!!
Pulled over to watch for a while (waving all the people behind me on who thought I’d stopped for a “good” reason). It jumped and splashed and slammed it’s tail down and did great big belly flops. Amazing. Thanks to my dodgy eyes I don’t know if it was one really active one or a couple taking turns. The North Side of St Helena is a nursing ground for humpback whales, several mother/child pairs have been spotted. Now I’ve seen them too J
It is a little odd to observe just how weary we become of the world around us. I didn’t spot anyone else who had stopped to watch: seen it before and will see it again. Same goes for so much around here: Myna birds are a pest, fresh Tuna a dull daily staple, bright red cardinals are cute but no more noteworthy than a UK sparrow. I was lucky enough to be brought up in some stunning scenery which I didn’t really appreciate until I’d moved away. I feel very fortunate to be living in another stunning place and to be approaching it with fresh eyes.

A different whale doing similar things.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012