Final Night Aboard the RMS

Day five and our final full day aboard the RMS St Helena. Despite the long days, time has flown by and we are now turning our thoughts to what our first days upon the Island may bring. The RMS St Helena has a reputation for leaving a lasting impression on people, and it’s easy to see why. A throw back to a bye gone era with games of dominoes and shove half penny, to sitting on deck quietly reading or conversing with fellow passengers. A place where dress codes still apply and staff take pride in the correct attire for the correct time of day.

The journey has not been without its troubles and challenges, not least of which has been trying to occupy our two boys, Oliver (6) and Charlie (3). The limit space for them to run and play has led to a build-up of unspent energy and trying to find creative ways to express this has been difficult, but we have neared the end of the journey without annoying the other passengers too much. A daily attempt to relieve the boredom has been a dip in the pool. This ritual has involved Oliver and Charlie pacing around the pool for some time, demanding that Mummy or Daddy get in. When we eventually cave in and jump into the waters, Oliver follows gingerly stepping in, before jumping right back out again and is not seen to return to the water until the following days ritual begins again. The reason for this this rapid departure is the icy temperature of the water, due to the pool being filled with Sea Water taken from the Atlantic Coast of Cape Town but Oliver certainly does not seem to mind his foolish parents getting into the freezing water on his behalf!

5.2 Charlie

The passengers and crew on board are what makes this journey truly special and interesting. And endless list of nationalities, personalities and stories. Each person with their own narrative and tale to tell.

We have met many people from the UK in the same situation as ourselves off to St Helena for new work and a new way of life, sharing stories of excitement and fear is a great collective comfort for us all. Then off course we have our first experience of the local Saints, and we have experienced a warm, friendly and fascinating people, always with time to say hello and spin a yarn. Stedson, a former St Helenan head teacher, retired some 20 years ago was returning to St Helena following a scan for Cancer, sadly his prognosis is not good, but I shall treasure the half hour spent in his company learning more of life on the Island and hearing a life time of wisdom and will pray that I may enjoy still further time in his company when reaching the Island.

As for our fellow Brits, our dining table has been shared with a wonderful couple, Paul and Jen and their beautiful young baby boy Miles, nervous and excited about their three month adventure full of questions and unknowns, our conversations covering everything from the potential for shark attack to the existence of the Loch Nes Monster.  A life changing experience for them I expect and to be taking it on with a young baby is even more impressive.

Then there is the irrepressible Christine, a true Scouser, remarkably strong, and worldly wise with a wicked sense of humour. I envisage Christine becoming something of a rock for the group of newbies and I look forward to passing the nights away in one of the local bars we have been briefed upon.

Andrew Day, his wife Lucy and lovely young boys Toby and Lawrence are returning from the UK following their first 12 months on the Island. They have all, Andy particularly proved to be both a fountain of knowledge and a pillar of support for the new adventurers on the ship and I have no doubt their help and support will continue to be invaluable as we take our first steps to a new life tomorrow.

Life on board is one of routine, based around meal times, but in between, regular entertainment is provided. Innocent but fun in its nature we have played tug o war, cricket, evening quiz’s and pub games.

Oliver takes part in the not so traditional form of Horse Racing. We had 20p on him to win but sadly he was just pipped at the post!

Oliver takes part in the not so traditional form of Horse Racing. We had 20p on him to win but sadly he was just pipped at the post!

Our eventual family tally was quite successful and reads as follows,

Tug o War, Winning team

Quiotes – Bev runner up

Quiz – Runners up, although the winning team had significantly more players and more than allowed, a point that Christine was keen to stress.

Skittles – Semi Finals.

Our final night aboard was spent enjoying a fabulous feast on the deck, with barbecued meats, fresh fruit a plenty, and significant portions of cake.

We head off to bed, with mixed emotions, excited to arrive at the Island but sad to be leaving our extended family on board the RMS St Helena. When the airport arrives on St Helena in 2016, the RMS will be de-commissioned, this will be a sad day but at least we now have our own small place in the RMS archives. Tomorrow we intend an early start to see St Helena Island arrive into view following days of endless blue and empty horizons.  Our 2200 mile trip across the Atlantic is nearly over; our journey however, has only just begun.

Two Years in the Atlantic, what’s that all about?

So Two Years in the  Atlantic, what’s that all about? Well apparently this is a blog, I say apparently as I don’t really know what a blog is, not because I’m some grey haired retiree (more on retirement later) who doesn’t use technology, or  god forbid social media, far from it I can’t get off Facebook, but because I’ve never read or written a blog. From what I can gather it’s like a diary, but one which the whole world could potentially read. That being the case, unlike Adrian Mole and his not so secret diary I won’t be discussing the number of pubic hairs I have. Moreover, for the first few entries I shall discuss the topic of trains, plans and automobiles, or in my case, a plane and a boat, for a bloody long time.

Now, I think I’m right in saying that blogs should not just be about the art of blogging, but should have some content that the reader consider worth reading, in this case I’ve eliminated most of the world and I consider my target audience to be my friends, family and people who may be considering the prospect of a job offer they have been made on the tiny, remote Island of St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.

I say this because a little under 6 months ago my wife was considering accepting a job offer on the tiny, remote Island of St Helena in the South Atlantic, and now, having accepted that job offer, I am sat here, in the Commodore Hotel in Cape Town, next to my eldest Son Oliver (6) who is snoring, writing the first few lines of this blog.

If you are still with me and haven’t got bored of my obvious attempt to make this blog in some way witty, then I shall get down to the point of it all. My incredible wife, Bev, has been offered a job as a Marine Studies Advisory Teacher on St Helena, a remote British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic. I could tell you lots about this Island and its incredible history, but I suspect that google is your friend and could do a better job. Suffice to say this, for me and my family is an epic journey and life change to an island accessible only by Sea, in the South Atlantic.

That’s the background done, rather than tell you about me, my wife and our two children, I shall tell you about our adventure, and the rest I hope with unravel along the way.

Tonight I sit in a hotel bed, my wife and youngest son in the room next door, not how I planned my first (and only) night on a new continent. We departed Heathrow Airport a little over 24hrs ago, flew through the night and arrived in Cape Town this morning.  I’ve always wanted to visit Cape Town, to see South Africa and to learn first-hand of the effects of the shameful years of apartheid and how the country has changed since.

 I have been here only a few hours but I have felt more at home and welcomed than any destination I can thus far care to mention. A city of stunning beauty equalled only by the welcome and friendliness of its peoples.  I have experienced hospitality, fantastic food, pickled crocodile, vuvuzelas and local beer.

 

 

I have toured the tenth greatest aquarium in the World (you’ll no doubt hear more of aquariums as time passes) with an exclusive behind the Scenes Tour of the superb Two Oceans Aquarium and spoken at length with a wonderful Scouser (there is no escaping them) about the problems of education in the UK. We are staying in the hotel with several other adventurers off to start new jobs and new lives on the Island, and Christine is one of the first we have bonded with, a warm hearted lady full of scouse humour, wit and attitude. I think I shall make firm friends with her

I have spoken to some  of the  most welcoming people, the local Afrikaans, that  have met anywhere in the World and feel as though leaving this city tomorrow will feel more of a wrench than one night should wreak. But alas leave I must, bound for St Helena on the last remaining Royal Mail Ship, RMS St Helena a 6 day 5 night voyage across the Atlantic.

But before I close my opening blog I shall end at where I began, what is a blog and why am I writing it. To me this is a diary; it’s a diary of a period of my life full of unknowns, of excitement and trepidation in equal measure. Although my wife now refers to me as unemployed, I consider myself retired (at the age of 34) or at least retired for two years, and retired people do things that the rest of the population have neither the time nor the inclination to do, hence a blog. I warn you for those who appreciate the written word, this is as good as it gets, and my longer term intention is for my blog to become a showcase for my new found passion, photography. But until such time as my skills move from point and click (or P mode for the photographers out there) to photos I am proud to share then my late night ramblings may have to suffice.

So thanks for reading and I hope to keep my updates to less than an undergraduate dissertation in future, I look forward to my second and last day in this unique, fascinating and wonderful city of Cape Town and set off with the Words, “I’d be surprised if you don’t see Southern Right Whales on your journey” ringing merrily in my giddy head.