It’s a Funny Place After All.
Its been a funny couple of week aboard the Island. As usual my blog entry is late, I continue to have much to write about, but alas my time continues to be extraordinarily and unexpectedly busy. My retirement of fishing, swimming and relaxing is not going to plan!
The weather here these past two weeks has been particularly strange, lurching from 30C heat and blazing sunshine to a moderate 22C with cloudy skies and drizzly to heavy rain, and back again in the space of twenty minutes. There are two things to blame for the weather. One of course is that St Helena is a British Territory; if when it was discovered in 1502 the Portuguese had decided to keep hold of the place I’m sure we would be feeling the benefit of sustained sunshine now. The other reason the weather has taken a considerable turn for the worse is the hose pipe ban, issued by Connect St Helena which of course brought on days of rain! (the ban has now been lifted)
Despite my earlier blog suggesting I am content, I remain in some turmoil regarding what I should do here on the Island. Part of me wants a job, a defined role, filling my time and contributing to the Island, this would be the best thing for our futures beyond St Helena, adding to my CV and saving money. Part of me wishes to further explore my photography and design work, to see if, with a little promotion and some investment of time I could make more of it. And of course part of me wonders if I would regret not taking the opportunity to not work for two years, which will surely never present itself again. There is also the children and Bev to think of, what is best for them now, and in the future. I switch from one reasoning to the other as quickly as rain turns to sun. I fear in reality I will continue in this vein for some time until something presents itself that just falls into place.
Bevs work has taken off in earnest this past fortnight. I am incredibly proud of her and the difference she is now making to people. Her adults Marine Biology O’level is in full swing, has attracted a good number of Saints and Ex-pats and has been extremely well received. This past fortnight has also seen the fruits of Bev’s labour with local children having the opportunity to take their place in the water swimming alongside whale sharks. Despite our now numerous encounters with the incredible Whale Sharks, the same experiences are not commonplace for St Helenians, being for many too expensive or for others too frightening. Bevs massive effort has seen young Saints witness first hand some of the amazing wildlife upon their doorsteps. We cannot expect future generations to care for our Oceans and the wonders therein if they do not have the opportunity to see them for themselves, and Bev has provided that.
Unfortunately however the next strange happening is the arrival of rough seas, common place in February but this year largely absent, until now. This has meant that some of the trips have had to be cancelled much to the disappointment of everyone concerned. The photos below speak for themselves as to why it has not been possible to take children onto the high seas. The waters do make for a fantastic exhilarating experience from the shore however, watching huge rolling waves some up to 15ft high pounding the breakwater in James Bay. Just watching them was a little over whelming for our sensitive Oliver who was nervous at the sight of them, Charlie however loved them, avoiding the splashes and screaming with delight, until of course the inevitable happened and he got wet, followed shortly by tears and tantrums and screams of delight replaced with cries of wishing to go home!
The relentless pounding of the sea helps to remind oneself of our situation, this tiny spot in a massive and powerful Ocean, which has been slowly grinding down the shorelines of this Island for millennia, returning it to rubble and the sea floor from whence it came. The past couple of weeks have also reminded us of our isolations from our family and loved ones, as illness and loss has sadly affected our families back home. There are times when travelling is hard, you have to sacrifice much to enjoy these experiences and whilst given the option I would do it again, it is hard to be so far away at times of need. It is particularly hard to know that you cannot be there to offer comfort, a shoulder to cry on and to support people, especially those people who have done so much to support us. You know who you are, we think of you always, we miss you and wish we could do more.
Life is also strange on St Helena in that I am finding I miss football games, and do not care! I spend my weekend doing things other than fretting about the form of Sterling, and whether Sturridge can get back to his best following a long lay-off. I still watch when I can and follow closely of course, and no doubt when I return home I will be as fanatical as ever, but I missed two games the past three weekends, and couldn’t give a dam! There are more rewarding things to be had and I shall continue to have them. One, less than rewarding afternoon however was spent plying my wares to the latest cruise ship to arrive. Feeling as though I had missed a trick last time a cruise ship, the MV Voyager was in town, I wanted to ensure I was there, at the market to sell my photos to wealthy and unsuspecting cruisers.
My sale did not go to plan, it rained relentlessly for the seven or so hours that I sat in the parade in Jamestown, and I watched as passenger after passenger passed by my stall, preferring instead a key ring, mug, or rather to by pass the stalls all together to hurry back to the shelter of the ship. I sold four photos in total, three of which went to Islanders, and at a loss of £160 for the day my first attempt at selling my photos was not a great success, and I have to admit was a blow to the ego. Some would say a dent in my ego would not be a bad thing, although much has already occurred on St Helena to suppress any ego I may of left the UK with.
Thankfully, before the waves took a significant upturn, the Island was able to host its annual Marine Awareness week. Organised by the Marine sector of the Environment Natural Recourses division this week of activities sees hundreds pf school children and adults engaged in education and conservation and all things fishy. It was one of my most enjoyable weeks on the Island as I stepped back into my comfort zone and set up a successful Marine Aquarium for the public to enjoy amd led several school session in touch pool and other education activities. I felt right at home and even enjoyed the inevitable leaking pipework and other unexpected aquarium eventualities. For my friends and colleagues in the aquarium world back home, remember, if you are ever setting up an aquarium on a volcanic Island, the sand it turns out is magnetic, and will easily stick to each and every pump impeller in the vicinity. It will require a significant time investment to remove fine, wet magnetic sand from the surfaces.
The grand finally of Marine Awareness week saw several hundred people take to the Wharf to enjoy water sports, swimming and lots of other water based fun.
I have also become more accident prone in St Helena, and have had more injuries here in a few months than in several previous years. Now my Mum will no doubt tell you that I have always been accident prone, but then of course she would be mistaking me for my brother. But this week, in an entirely avoidable act of stupidity, whilst cutting the rind of some bacon I sliced through my finger, cutting deep into the side and cutting part of the nerves inside. Much blood, and a degree of panic ensured, all under the oblivious eyes of Charlie, whilst I ran round contemplating my best course of action to stop the blood, clean the floor, take care of Charlie and finish the Pilau (pronounced Plo) I was making. I did in the end achieve all four and after a trip to the Hospital the following morning had I confirmed that I had indeed severed my nerve hence the loss of feeling down one side of my finger, but I should be reassured that it would, in all likelihood, heal with no lasting effects. I have concluded that if indeed my finger remains numb in parts this would not be the end of the world as I remain able to type my blog at sufficient speed.
And finally, in sporting news Charlie is now swimming without armbands and Oliver is swimming a full 33m length of the pool and has been selected to compete in the Islands swimming Gala. We are so very proud of them both and the change is remarkable.
Charlie also took part in his first sports day. For nursery children only, the morning was more chaos than sports, but it was none the less great fun. With humorous and able commentary from her Ladyship Christine it was strange to say the least to hear the comedic tones of a scouser blasting across a playing field in the centre of an Island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, but then it’s a funny place after all.
I also had the privilege of a photo-shoot with Jonathan, the oldest land vertebrate on the plant at over 182 years old!