So Christmas Day 2014, our first on St Helena and our first in the Southern Hemisphere, which makes for a different day than we are used to that’s for sure. Christmas morning started in usual style, with presents from Father Christmas. As we had forgotten stockings, Oliver and Charlie made their own this year, and they were a little small, meaning that the boys both had an extra surprise when they found a second pile of presents from Santa in the lounge.
After the usual chaos of opening presents, arguments over who has this and who wants that, and after our Christmas breakfast of homemade pancakes had been eaten, we set to work on Christmas dinner. This year being different again as we were to be spending Christmas dinner with good friends at someone else’s house. With absent family, Christmas for ex-pats on St Helena can be a difficult time, one that reminds you of loved ones back home, where Christmas traditions are a little out and family are a thousand miles away. So the usual practice is for ex-pats to gather in groups at someone’s house, each family contributing to the Christmas dinner. Our Christmas was spent with the Davids; Julie, Martin and their girls, the Grahams; Trevor, Charlotte and the gang, and Andy Crowe, acting as Grandad for the day!
For our part we prepared the Turkey, roasted veg, Paxo sage and onion stuffing (it has to be paxo), Turkey gravy, carrots and cauliflower and a pudding of apple and pear crumble. All prepared and only 30minutes late we arrived at the David’s where our offerings were combined with the Gammon, Pork, Tuna Bake, Chocolate log, Christmas Cake and orange sorbet, and various other sides. All in all a very splendid feast leaving everyone full, and a little sleepy. Everyone except of course the Children, who had great fun charging round the garden.
To awaken ourselves from potential slumber it was decided that a game of garden boules was in order, and the competitive streak came out of everyone as you can see by the look of determination on faces. The garden fun also gave me the opportunity to try out my new lens, and very pleased with the results I am too.
As afternoon turned to evening we naturally settled into a more normal Christmas tradition, sat round the TV watching Christmas specials, this year taking the form of the Vicar of Dibbly Christmas episode. A thoroughly enjoyable day with great company came to a close as we headed home, full of food, tired, but more than happy with our first Christmas day on the Island.
Now our normal boxing day in the UK would take the form of Turkey sandwiches, relaxation, lots of chocolate, and maybe a walk in the winter sunshine to take the edge off the calories. This year was once again a little different, involving a waterslide, lots of food and another party. This time at Debbie Whale’s house. Such is the mix of people on St Helena that whilst Christmas day was spent at the prison officers house, boxing day would be spent with one of St Helena’s lawyers . (I hope I have the right Debbie?). The water slide was great fun, the children had a fantastic time, as did some of the adults, and once again my new lens proved its worth.
As they say there is always one, and normally, that is me,(or my brother eh Wayne?) and I did not disappoint. Launching myself at the water slide I made it from one end to the other bouncing along, and seeing a challenge. On my second attempt I jumped and, touching the wet rubber only twice on my 25ft journey into the plunge pool, splashed down at the other end with a wave of water and bubbles. Of course, if I could achieve the length of the slide in two, Im sure I could take it in one, and, under the challenge of Trevor and Andy I took my run up, hoping to make the leap in one bounce. Onto my right foot for the launch I felt the inevitable shooting pain through my leg as my groin ruptured again. In great agony the remainder of the afternoon was spent sipping cold beers and sat watching the fun.
With Christmas over, I took myself to the hospital the following day. My groin now severely swollen and very bruised following three tares in four months. This time physio and strict care needs to be taken if I am to prevent a football injury becoming a permanent problem.
So Christmas in St Helena, whilst missing family greatly, was brilliant, fun, food, parties and sunshine (although not as much as we’d hoped), sadly an injury to go with it. We look forward now to seeing what New Year on this fantastic little island brings us.