5 Land on St Helena

 

It is hard to believe we have been on St Helena now for 10 days already, so much has happened, so many new experiences for all of us. Some days I still feel like I’m on the ship but that is improving with each day that passes (apparently that can take time to resolve). We have so much to tell you all but we will start with our first couple of days on the island.

 

Following on from the story so far…. We landed on St Helena on Sunday 19th March and disembarked at around 11.15am, despite the facebook video our landing was relatively smooth, with 2 men holding the gallows ropes we made for dry land. Once we had cleared customs,  Matt’s new team were waiting to meet us, everyone was so kind and welcoming, the whole thing was quite overwhelming!

 

We were presented with our hire car, a Suzuki Jeep complete with touch screen CD and ipod player (you can’t play the radio though and the CD comes on depending on which corner you are going round).

 

Our first impressions of the island were that St Helena is stunning, it is lush and green once you drive out of Jamestown, the capital. Most of the properties on the island are bungalows with corrugated roofs set into the hillside often hidden from view by long drives and vegetation.

 

Now, driving on St Helena is an experience, (Matt drove on that first day) basically you are either going steeply uphill or steeply downhill pretty much all the time, there is very little flat space. The roads are not wide enough in most places for 2 cars so you have to give way, standard procedure is whoever is going up hill has priority but it is tricky and I was wetting myself thinking how on earth am I going to be able to drive here? The worst hill and corner I’ve seen are combined and are  nearest our house (of course), it is the only road I’ve seen on the island with a warning sign to stay in a low gear as it is a steep hill and believe me, here that is saying something.

 

Our house is in the country, a part of the island called Crack Plain and after a week of travelling I was very pleased to see it!  However, before we settled in we had the 6th member of the family to collect. We were taken to the governor’s house to pick up Cooper our new puppy. We met Her Excellency Governor Philips and she took us to see Dusty, his mum and Cooper. We drove home with the puppy on my lap, I had a great wash on that drive back, I think I was licked from head to toe.  Cooper is now settling in well, the only issue with him is that he refuses to walk, he is stubborn and quite frankly lazy, however we forgive him as he’s gorgeous!

 

As the ship was 2 days late in arriving we really had no time to explore the island together before Matt started work on Monday. He was picked up at 7.30am and the children and I were left at the house. I had 3 children, a dog that won’t walk and no idea where a local shop or the school were. (I admit I had a little cry at this point). Luckily Matt’s boss’s wife Jill had given me her phone number and told me to call her, so I did and she was great.  She showed me round, we got the kids school sorted, some shopping in and I felt much more confident by the end of the day.

 

One of the lessons I learned that day was that shopping is a full-time job here, there are certain shops to go in for certain things on certain days. Standing In a supermarket with Jill on that Monday one of the items I needed was bread, and as we were there a bread delivery arrived, I said “ah, bread could I have a loaf please?” the answer was “no!” all the bread had been ordered and there was no bread for sale at all! I then proceeded to try and put in a bread order, the bread comes in on a Monday Wednesday and Friday and you have to order for the week a week in advance.  I ended up getting a little carried away, ordering 6 loaves of bread and 30 rolls per week, I have since spent the rest of my time here trying to change the order, something you can also only do once a week apparently! (they did somehow manage to find me 2 loaves of bread that day though once they realised how incompetent I was!)

 

The kids started school on Tuesday and by the end of the day had made new friends, I had met one of the mums (called Jo, Standard obviously) plus the local hairdresser, Natalie  and her sister Noleen, the beauty therapist, (essential to know in my opinion). Matt and I breathed a sigh of relief that school had gone well and with the kids sorted surely nothing could go wrong?!………

 

5 are packing up to leave St Helena

We are only 2 weeks away from leaving St Helena, all our belongings have either been sold or are now packed up in a container, we won’t even have a tin opener! I checked our shipping record from when our container arrived on St Helena, we had 102 boxes plus various other items. We now have just 43 boxes and 5 suitcases! It’s quite cathartic giving our things away and selling others.
It is a slightly odd situation for us as Matt and I still don’t have jobs. I will do bank work for a while until Matt’s job is sorted before deciding what I would like to do. Being here has made me wonder if I should change direction but I don’t know where to yet! The kids all have school places and we are looking forward to seeing our house again soon.
Cooper is not quite sorted yet, he will hopefully go on the container ship, the MV Helena to Cape Town in August and then fly to the UK from there. The governor is going to look after him for us until he leaves, hopefully. We can’t leave him, he’s part of the family and we can’t imagine our lives without him now! (despite having to re-mortgage to pay to get him back to the UK!!)
It is Winter here now, however, the weather this week has been great, warm and sunny and it makes it really hard to think about leaving. (since writing this blog the weather has deteriorated rapidly!) When we leave; we will miss the weather here on St Helena but there are other things we will also miss:
• The view from our house. It is amazing, every day we see a fabulous sun rise and stunning scenery.
• Waving – When you are driving in St Helena you must wave at every car you pass, not just if someone pulls over for you. The desire to wave at people when driving in the UK is overwhelming sometimes!
• Saying hello! – it is considered rude on St Helena if you don’t say hello to everyone you pass when in town or walking along the road. You really notice the difference when not in St Helena.
• The stars – amazing clear, dark skies and amazing stars, who knew there were so many!

  • Mac sitting on the wall – Every day when I walk the dog I have a chat with Mac who sits at White gate.
    • Hills – Not really, I’ll be glad if I never see a hill again!
    • Boat trips – it is lovely to just phone Johnny and go on a boat trip if you fancy it on a weekend.
  • Going to SHAPE to help make crafts and jewellery.
    • Whale sharks – they are gentle giants and truly amazing!
    • The pace of life – life is much slower on St Helena and it took us a long time to slow down, now we will have to put our foot down and speed up to get back to the pace of life in the UK.
    • The peace and quiet – it is really quiet on St Helena, properly quiet……..
    • Family time – I suspect that the pace of life in the UK will reduce the amount of family time we have together. Family meal times may also become a thing of the past.
    • After school swimming in the pool in Jamestown – A luxury after work/school.
    • Cooper playing with Dusty, his mum and his siblings – it is so lovely to see them playing together, dog training has also been great fun!
    • Diana’s peak – our favourite post box walk, and the highest point on the island. Stunning 360-degree views from the top on a good day or only being able to see your hand in front of your face on a bad one!
    • The people – St Helena has many kind and friendly people and there are many people we will miss.
    • The music on Saint FM, Country or reggae versions of pop songs!! a particular favourite is the song “just an illusion” – A classic St Helena tune, so bad it’s good!
    • Matt will miss sitting in his office with the warm breeze through the window and mango trees in the office gardens.
    • The challenge of shopping for weekly food and being inventive with the weekly veg bag… it has really made us appreciate how convenient everything is in the UK and how you can get anything you want whenever you want.
    • The kids will miss Mum’s ‘elephant’ in the meals…. How she has disguised Pumpkin into nearly every meal without them noticing.
    • Fresh fish – Tuna, Wahoo, Grouper, Dorado, some of the best fish we’ve ever eaten.
    We are going to make the most of the next few weeks and will always have great memories of St Helena.
    Lots of love from Jo, Matt, Isaac, Ruby and Archie xxx

 

5 Go on holiday

Hi Everyone, it’s been a while since we last blogged, the reason being that we went on holiday for 7 weeks! Matt has never had a holiday that long before, and other than having maternity leave (which I think doesn’t count) neither have I!
We flew from St Helena to Johannesburg where we stayed in a hotel overnight. Having been on St Helena with no fruit or eggs for the last month, to see the salad bar and selection of fruit available was the best thing we’d ever seen and we piled our plates high!!
We then flew on to Cape town, an amazing place, where we spent 10 days; we saw Table Mountain, Cape Point, Cape of good hope, Clifton Beach, Boulders beach (where the penguins live) the Waterfront and Bo Kaap. We had lots of lovely food and good wine, we went shopping with no complaining from the kids (unheard of!) We also went on safari to a place called Inverdoorn for 2 days which was brilliant, we saw giraffes, lions, zebras, elephants, buffalo, wildebeest, springboks, rhino, cheetah, hippo’s ostrich……. and more! I would really recommend Cape Town as a holiday destination.
We then went on the second leg of our trip back to the UK where we caught up with as many people as we possibly could, we were wined and dined by friends, eating out, eating in, parties, weekends away (without the kids), boys trip to Beer, cinema trips, trips to London, Chichester and Brighton. Matt even got to play a game of Hockey!! We felt like we needed to get back to the sunshine and chilled out pace of life in St Helena by the end of it all! If we missed you then hopefully we will be able to catch up when we come back in August.
The children had an amazing time catching up with all their friends and were a little reluctant to leave the UK, luckily, Cooper was waiting for us though and we had all missed him soooo much that they were excited to see him.
Our trip back to St Helena was slightly lengthened by 2 cancelled flights, the weather in St Helena prevented the flight from landing and so we had to spend 2 days in Johannesburg, however, the weather was warm, the food was plentiful, and the hotel had a pool, so it wasn’t much of a hardship!
Now we are back in St Helena and the weather has been good so far, it feels strange that we only have a couple of months left living on St Helena. We are busy trying to sell all our worldly belongings, we brought far too much out with us, I look at some things and wonder what we were thinking bringing out power tools and a shredder! The good thing is that because it can be hard to buy things and have them shipped to the island, most things are wanted by someone somewhere. We are going to try and sell our car too, but if we can’t we will ship it back to the UK.
We have had a visitor for the last week, Matt’s work colleague Wendy, she was delivering training for the Safeguarding team. In between training we tried to show her round the island, and when Matt wasn’t trying to kill her in the hire car I think she had a good time. The lack of internet was a bit of an eye opener for her, but in many ways can be a good thing…?!
We have started dog training with Cooper to try and stop him jumping up and pulling on his lead, he is a bit bossy with the other dogs in the class and has been throwing his weight around a bit, but he is learning fast and is so adorable we forgive him!
I have now resigned from work, so I can enjoy my last few weeks as a lady of leisure before heading back to the UK and full-time work, however, Matt and I are both currently jobless when we return to UK, something that has never happened before and is slightly unsettling, we are hoping it won’t be for long though.
We plan to make the most of St Helena for our last few weeks on the island and have a bucket list of things we need to do before we go, including a 4 x 4 trip and family fishing. There are a few post-box walks we haven’t tried that we would like to as well.
Coming back has reminded us all the differences between the modern world of the UK and life in St Helena. We have decided there is no right or wrong, it is just very different way of life and culture on St Helena from the UK, which given how remote it is, the limitations of internet the lack of commercial marketing and shops it’s no wonder and is the unique charm that this small Island has. It will certainly remain a part of us and has been quite an adventure so far…..
We are hoping to have a holiday on our way back home to visit my brother & sister in law in Australia and have a break in the Sun before facing reality, we will fill you in on that as our plans take shape.
Everyone here is well and looking forwards to see what the next few months will bring.
Lots of love from Jo Matt, Isaac, Ruby and Archie xxxxx

5 go Whale Shark Watching

We have now been on St Helena for almost a year, it is hard to believe as in some ways that year has gone very quickly, we have experienced so many things in that time and made new friends, we feel very lucky to be here. in other ways it has gone very slowly as we miss our family and friends.
Summer has finally arrived on St Helena and we are making the most of it! The pool has opened and is a welcome relief after school/work and at the weekends. The kids live outside most of the time and we are now grateful that ‘the country’ is a bit cooler than Jamestown.
Last week we had a bank holiday as the RMS St Helena left on her final voyage, she had served St Helena for 27 years as the only access to the island for passengers and freight. There were parades and events on all weekend.  Now there is airport access she has been de-commissioned. The RMS will be greatly missed by the Island. We will miss the sound of her horn as she arrives, the buzz in town on ship day and the sight of her moored in Jamestown harbour. We were fortunate to be able to take a tour on her before she left as part of the celebrations, Matt and I also attended a cocktail party the ship on my birthday, which will always be a great memory (Matt tried to tell me he had arranged the whole thing!).
The Whale sharks arrived a few weeks ago, we have been on 3 boat trips now to see them and they are one of the most amazing, huge and gentle creatures I have ever seen. It’s quite freaky getting in the Ocean to swim with them, it doesn’t help that the first time I did, I pretty much jumped on top of one, freaked out and promptly jumped back out of the water!!
I have calmed down now though and yesterday enjoyed a swim alongside a whale shark, they are so graceful when they swim, a few Remora fish hanging on to them for the ride. We were advised not to swim in front of them which is fine until they turn straight for you and then it’s a mad dash to get out of the way, not that they would hurt you, but when 12 metres of shark is heading for you it’s probably best!!
Matt got some great video footage on the Go Pro as he swam with the whale sharks, a great memory for us to have (especially as I deleted some video footage by mistake the week before!).
We tried getting Ruby in the water as she was desperate to see the whale sharks and she did jump in off the boat on two occasions, both times losing a fin in the process! She didn’t quite pluck up the courage to swim with a whale shark though. Archie and Isaac haven’t wanted to go in with them, however, the whale sharks put on quite a display even from the boat, so they have at least seen them.
We are going on our mid-term leave in less than 2 weeks now and I can’t tell you how excited we are! We are going to spend 10 days in Cape Town followed by 5 weeks in the UK, we have so many lovely things planned and so many people to see that I know time will wizz by; but we will be making the most of it and will fit in as many people as we can. Cooper will be spending a bit of time with his mummy whilst we are away which I know he will love!

5 wish you all a Happy New Year!

Happy New year to you all from the Ansells!
We hope you all had a good Christmas, we had a lovely Christmas, however, it was a bit odd for us this year for a number of reasons; firstly being on a remote Island in the middle of the South Atlantic, secondly, the weather was hot and sunny (not right I’m afraid, I don’t think I would ever get used to Christmas in summer!) and thirdly, all our Christmas shopping was complete before the 20th October when the shipping company shipped our goods, so there was no Christmas shopping with cheesy Christmas music for us! That may be a blessing though.
There have been lots of Christmas parades here on St Helena in the run up to Christmas which have helped to remind us that it really is Christmas! Ruby took part in some of them as a cheerleader. The Hawaiian themed parade for St Pauls primary school, the Christmas eve parade and the opening of the boxing day games. We also saw the highlight of Christmas on St Helena, the festival of lights which was great to be a part of, we were all draped in fairy lights and glow sticks, walking through Jamestown following a Santa with glow in the dark eyes!
We have been lucky to have my mum to stay for Christmas and New year, it has been so nice to have someone we know on the island. The kids, Matt and I have been looking forward to seeing her for a long time. She brought us lots of treats, including magazines for me which highlight how out of date with fashion I will be on return to the UK! I feel some shopping trips coming on…
Christmas day consisted of lots of present opening for the kids in the morning, Matt also had a real treat this year, he got a whole Toblerone, a moisturiser and a packet of mentos!  We had Christmas day lunch/dinner at the new hotel on the island; Mantis St Helena, which I have to say was very impressive, I think it’s always a good sign if you can’t walk after Christmas dinner!
Between Christmas and New-year We have also been busy, the weather has been good, and we took Nanny on a boxing day walk, to  BBQ’s at friends, a boat trip to do some dolphin watching and swimming, as well as brunch at Bertrand’s Cottage.
New year has been a quiet one for us this year but as usual the kids made it to midnight and we played lots of party games along the way. No hangover on New years day was a treat!!
We are now on countdown until our March leave,  We already have lots planned, including 10 days in Cape town before we hit the UK, Matt has worked for a whole year without leave so a holiday before we get back to England will be very welcome.
Before we go on leave we hope to see some Whale Sharks, it is the only reason Archie is here he says! Hopefully they will arrive within the next 3-4 weeks and we can swim with them, it would be amazing if we get to see them. If we do, we will try and show you some pictures. There are advantages to living here!

Thank you to everyone who has sent cards and gifts for Christmas, we feel very loved.
We will blog again soon
Jo, Matt, Isaac, Ruby and Archie xxxxxx

5 survive “scruffy August”

Hi y’all! Sorry the Ansell’s haven’t blogged for a while, life on St Helena has been moving along and we thought we didn’t have much to blog about, however, when I stop to think about it we have done quite a lot over our winter months!
We are just coming out of a long winter here in St Helena, the saints have a saying: ‘scruffy August’ due to the wet and cold weather in August, however, this year we had scruffy August, September and October! Just in the last week Spring has sprung, we are back in shorts and we were back on the beach this weekend, everything looks better in the Sunshine.
Since we last blogged Ruby’s arm has now healed completely, the twins have turned 8 and I have started work. We survived a four-week winter school holiday unscathed, Ruby has started piano lessons and had her ears pierced, Matt and I have been to a ball, Cooper and i did the Pink walk and we had a Halloween party. We have lived through an egg shortage and now added to that a flour shortage, we tasted our first strawberries since being here on the last 2 ships, (but if you don’t get them the day the ship come is then they are gone) and this week I had my first yoghurt for months!!
We have also witnessed some exciting developments in St Helena over the last few months, the first proving flight, followed by the first commercial flight in and out of the island which some of you will know that Matt was on! He left St Helena for the UK on Sunday 15th October for a conference and Came back on Saturday 21st October, I think it was a first for someone to leave the island, go to the UK and come back within 6 days. We really missed him, but he came back with lots of treats, so he was forgiven.
The winter here is the time to view humpback whales and we have been on a few boat trips during August and September to see them, they are quite amazing, and so close to shore that if I walk Cooper in Jamestown we quite often see hump back whales in the bay, I’m not sure there is anywhere else you can do that!
Ruby has been treading the boards since we last blogged and has been in 2 shows; St Helena’s got young talent with her ballet group Arabesque, and the Brownie guide variety show last week, they are events that are open to the public to see and it is great that she has the opportunity to do these shows whilst we are here.
Since arriving on the Island our car has not done well, it lasted 2 months before going in to the garage and not coming out again. We had 3 different parts sent over on different ships over the course of 5 months, but it seemed that nothing worked. Matt decided that we needed a new family car whilst we are here as we had already spent a lot of money on hire cars, so we have invested in a highly practical Alfa Romeo MITO! 3 doors with a tiny boot for the 5 of us and Cooper, it is snug when we all get in. Isaac has fallen head over heels in love with it and wants us to bring it back to the UK! (we are not!) I am very pleased to report that on Friday we got our car back, it feels like driving a bus compared with the Alfa but now we are now 2-car family. Cars on the island are a bit of a challenge as the roads are hard on the cars and parts are not readily available. From order to arrival in the past it has been 2 months minimum shipping to get parts from the UK, however that may all be about to change with flights.
Cooper has not stopped growing over the winter months and has been really quite naughty, let’s just say he’s had his fair share of fillet steak and chickens recently, he also wonders off when we are out walking, so last week I decided that he is now in training boot camp, with the amount of treats I must give him as rewards though he’ll be a very fat, well-trained dog!!
The brand-New Hotel Mantis St Helena opened last week and already, we are making the most of it, I went for a lady’s lunch on Thursday and Matt and I went for a meal there last night, it is such a lovely place to go for a drink and Dinner, there is nothing else like it and it will be a great addition to the Island. We are looking forward to a night there over the Christmas period whilst Nanny babysits (not sure if she knows yet!).
We are now on count-down to Christmas, all presents, and Tesco food order were placed last month, so my yule logs, mince pies and prosecco are on their way as well as about 6 boxes of roses!! Santa takes a while to get the orders together for St Helena, so we have to send our letters well in advance, but with the benefit of no toy adverts the kids have no idea what they are missing in the UK (until we skype their friends). We are looking forward to my mum coming over for 2 weeks minus her high heels and experiencing a St Helenian Christmas.
We will blog again nearer to Christmas lots of love From Jo, Matt and the IRA! xxxxx

5 are 4 months in…

So it’s been a while since we have Blogged (is that even a word!) as I sit here on a slightly rainy Saturday I am looking out across to Alarm forest with a view to my right of the ocean in the distance and the sun shining down in Jamestown…it is one of the many interesting and unique things about St Helena.

Where we live is described as ‘the country’ and a short 10min drive away is ‘town’ and whilst it is rainy here in the country, it will be sunny and hot in Jamestown…
Most of you would have seen that Ruby broke her wrist last weekend, obviously this could have happened anywhere, but being here, isolated and away from friends and family, when things go wrong, it’s a natural response to feel it’s because we are here. Obviously, that is totally irrational but nonetheless true. Now she is on the mend, we can laugh about that evening…the scream that alerted us was unnerving, followed by Ruby shouting and screaming at me whilst I drove her to the hospital, unfortunately the roads here are quite bumpy, and her arm was obviously hurting a lot…. The quotes of ‘Throw my roller boots in the bin’ ‘I hate this Island get me off it’ ‘stop driving so fast your making the car bump up and down’ ‘nobody speak!’ are all good comments for us to laugh at now!
Before moving here, both Jo and I thought about health care and what would happen if one of the kids were hurt, our experience last Sunday has certainly put our minds to rest. There was no busy A&E or waiting time, Ruby was seen immediately and looked after amazingly well by all the staff. Sergio ‘the Bone doctor’ was called in and we can’t thank him enough, as he was brilliant with Ruby. Another first for me was watching the surgeon come into the hospital and examine the arm in his flip flops and shorts, another unique thing that St Helena offers! Sergio saw her again on Friday (looking smarter), her wound is repairing and the K-wires are doing their job.
What else has been happening? well both Isaac and I have experienced our birthdays on St Helena, Isaac had a lovely 10th birthday, he had friends over and lunch out, and I enjoyed drinks at the Mule Yard and experienced my first ‘Sundown’ which is where people go on a Friday after work to chat about their week, enjoy a drink together and watch the amazing sun set across the waters of the South Atlantic.
As a family, we are slowly ticking of the Post Box walks. As we have already mentioned there are 21 Post Box Walks in St Helena, ranging in length and difficulty. The walks provide opportunities to experience and explore the wide variety of landscapes and the natural heritage of the Island. Last weekend Archie chose the walk and we did ‘High Hill’ The walk is described as a short walk that is a little steep in places. The walk is in the South-Western part of the Island which is called the district of Blue Hill. High Hill is composed of rocks that were formed at a late stage in the St Helena’s volcanic activity. Over the last 7 million years the soft surrounding rock has been eroded to expose what is now High Hill.
One of the reasons for embarking on the St Helena adventure was to spend more time with the kids, and the post box walks provide that opportunity. When we set out the day looked slightly overcast, but quickly cleared to a sunny afternoon. The kids have got used to walking up hills now, so the complaining has stopped and they all seem to genuinely enjoy these walks, obviously having Cooper helps, but they do seem to like the accomplishment of completing a walk and stamping our book. When we got to the top of High Hill we stopped for lunch. As always, the scenery was stunning, but what always strikes me is the quietness which is a beautiful thing to experience.
We are four months into life on St Helena, and we are starting to feel settled, life is settling into a rhythm and we have met some lovely people which helps us to miss home slightly less. Many things are similar, the kids still argue at times, Isaac still needs reminding to do everything, Archie continues to refuse to have his hair cut, and Ruby remains stubborn and bossy (like her mother). I have settled into work, the kids are doing well in school and Jo has become the model house wife (clearly people that know jo and I would know this is not true!!).
Other things are quite different, work / life balance is different for me, I am seeing and being able to spend so much more time with the kids, (I am wondering if this is a good thing or not!!) the climate is beautiful despite it being ‘winter’ at the moment, and overall life is stripped back and much simpler that our lives in UK. Sometimes this is a positive, at other times it’s a frustration…
So far so good is the overall impression from Team Ansell… We will be experiencing history and a changing context over the next few months as commercial flights will start. There will be weekly and regular access on and off the Island. It is fascinating being part of the Island at this time, seeing how St Helena and its people react and respond from being one of the most isolated places in the World to the opportunities of regular air access. Time will tell…xx

5 Do Sport

Sport on St Helena is big, the Saints love football and cricket and everyone turns out to watch. There is also a festival of walking and a festival of running.

The Ansell’s have been contributing to sport on the Island in various ways.
Last Friday Isaac played football for the school football team who won their inter-school tournament playing against 2 other primary schools.

Isaac and Archie have also joined a 5 a side football team called the Skull fires, they play on a Sunday morning in a league, they have played 2 games so far and are doing well. They rock a pink kit, I think it’s their new favourite colour!
Last weekend as a family we all managed to climb Jacob’s ladder, 699 steps up from Jamestown to Ladder hill. We managed to go up in around 20 minutes with a couple of rests, the steps seem to go on for ever. The kids were great and really felt like they had achieved something. Our time back down the steps was much quicker! Afterwards we were all very proud of ourselves and went to Anne’s place for a drink to celebrate!
As well as tackling the ladder we have walked around locally with Cooper exploring during our daily dog walks, there are lots of little nooks and crannies and being somewhat nosey Jo likes to have a look. We often end up walking down someone’s driveway or coming across a dog that is not tethered and end up making a hasty retreat but it has also provided us with some great dog walking routes. Most of the walks we do are off road, Cooper runs off the lead and has a whale of a time, we often find him sitting and waiting for the rest of us at the top of a hill as we arrive puffing and panting a few minutes behind him!
At the weekends, we often try and tackle one of the 21 Post Box walks here on St Helena as a family, they are walks that vary in difficulty from 2/10 to 9/10, some you even need ropes for! There are steep drops on every walk and they can be a little hair raising, we are still only doing the 2 or 3/10 walks so goodness knows what the 9/10 walks will be like! At the end of each walk there is a stamp and a book to write in, the idea is we stamp our book of walks and by the end of our stay here we will have done all 21?! We have currently done 3 so we have a way to go yet.
A couple of weeks ago we walked to Flagstaff, one of the high points on the island, it is a straight forward walk up a track. It is a 2/10, good for walking with Cooper and great views from the top, Ruby cried the whole way up which made the whole thing such a pleasure!! I had some advice given to me after that walk,” take other children with you on a post box walk, it makes it more bearable!” we may have to try it next time.
Since coming to the Island Jo and Matt have both started playing golf, St Helena golf course is 9 holes and you go around twice to play 18. Jo had only played golf twice before both Jo and Matt were entered into a Texas scramble last Saturday, (Jo didn’t know she was playing, she only went along to look after the kids and for the BBQ afterwards!) Matt and his partner Larry came 2nd, Jo had a great time but was generally rubbish throughout, more practice needed! Maybe if she wore plus 4’s she would play better.
Well we’re off for another dog walk so we’ll speak soon!
Lots of love from Jo, Matt, Isaac, Ruby and Archie xxxxx

5 experience St Helena Day

Well it has been a few weeks since the last blog. To recap… Jo was having a low period and was missing friends in the UK. Many thanks to all of you who sent such lovely messages, I promise she was not fishing for compliments, she is feeling a lot better now thanks.

Lots has happened since then, we have moved to a new house (quite a common practice amongst the TC officers in St Helena, some people have moved 4 times!) we have completed our 3rd post box walk, witnessed a passenger flight land on the Island, went on a boat trip with dolphins, experienced St Helena Day and much much more…

It is a strange feeling being so far away from friends and family in the UK, however the added complication of St Helena being one of the most remote habitable places in the World increases that sense of being cut off. Certainly, over the last month or so with the RMS being out of action, it really brought it home to Jo and I about how remote we are and the limitations of getting home quickly are significant!

We are in St Helena at a time where air access is looking increasingly likely, this will clearly change St Helena in many ways, the RMS is a life-line to the community and has a real connection to the people on the Island but air access will mean the ability to visit and leave the Island without a 5-day boat trip! It would also mean that the Ansell’s are open for visitors/able to come home more often…..xxx

Over the last few weekends we have been on a trip to Lemon Valley and experience some amazing dolphin watching, packed up and moved, un packed and settled, I have been keeping up my ladder climbs, normally twice a week, and Jo is exploring more of the Island with her pal Cooper. We have been  meeting lots of new people, been invited to several BBQ’s / party’s etc and generally enjoying what is described as Autumn which unlike the UK is very hot!

Last weekend was a long weekend with Monday being a bank holiday. This is to celebrate St Helena Day (May 21st) which represents the day the Island was discovered on May 21st 1502 by the Portuguese admiral Joao da Nova.

Our long weekend started with a sponsored dog walk in Longwood, which Cooper enjoyed as it was an opportunity to meet up with his mum (Dusty) and a couple of his brothers and sisters. It is always lovely watching Cooper with them, as they are all always very excited to see each other. Saturday was a hot day, so we went home afterwards to chill out for a few hours.

A similarity to the UK is the draw of a trampoline to children. Within ½ hr of returning three of Isaac’s new friends were round and all bouncing together. Isaac is really becoming quite good on the trampoline, having perfected various routines and different back and front flips…

One of our new neighbours grows a lot of his own vegetables and has been providing us with home grown, carrots, potatoes and the children’s favourite … squash! This is something that St Helena people do, they care for each other and if they can give to others they will. In return, Jo has made a courgette cake (poor bloke) and I provided him with some freshly caught Grouper (more on that later)

Saturday afternoon we went dog walking on Blue Hill with a creche of six children. Isaac and his friends walked home alone, it is interesting being a parent from the UK, having to allow increased independence. The Island is very safe for children, so allowing Isaac and two friends to take the 30min walk home is very different to how I would have felt in the UK.

Sunday was St Helena day… 1st Goring Cub and Beavers Group and 1st Goring Brownies were represented in the Opening Parade, which was followed by a speech from the Governor who opened the festivities, which this year had the theme of the Commonwealth.

We spent a lovely hot day in Jamestown, taking part in mini sports events, taking a dip in the South Atlantic to cool off (Jo jumped in wearing her dress!), mingling with people, and then watching the parade which took place in the late afternoon. The highlight for me was the National Anthem being played in some sort of techno house version, and the Queen leading a Hacker with the Kiwi contingent on the Island! By 6pm we were exhausted but it had been a great day, and lovely to experience our first St Helena day. Isaac had spent most of the day with friends, occasionally checking in with us, at one stage we went to look for him and he was with a group of friends chilling with drinks (non-alcoholic) in the Mule yard (bar) watching Arsenal v Everton…. what’s that saying….the apple does not fall far from the tree??!!  

Bank Holiday Monday I was invited out with Johnny (local Saint) on his fishing boat, this was such an amazing experience, going out early (4am) travelling to the other side of the Island and then line fishing for Grouper and watching the sunrise. There are some things in life that stay with you, and that morning will be one of them, I even managed to catch some Grouper myself, although I think the local guys on the boat thought it was lucky white man beginners luck! After a couple of hours of fishing we took the journey back, however this was no normal boat trip as we were accompanied by dolphins swimming alongside the boat.

So how are we getting on you may ask yourselves. Well I mentioned the trampoline, this arrived on our freight a couple of weekends ago. If Jo and I have had to put something like this together in the UK it would have resulted in several disagreements! However, it seems that St Helena is having a good influence upon us, as we managed to put it together without one single disagreement (either that or it was the extreme heat which meant we didn’t have the energy to argue…)

We both feel cut off from UK news, this was really highlighted this week, when we heard the tragic news about the bombing in Manchester. Being so far away from the UK feels very odd when the nation is going through such a tough time. Our thoughts are with all those families affected.

Our freight arrived a few weeks ago, we brought way too much stuff, but it is also lovely having some familiar things around us and some pictures of friends and family that we miss from the UK. I have realised that I had way too many shoes and the kids have got way way, way too many toys and cuddlies. Jo just has too much of everything! xx

For dinner we had freshly grown carrots, potatoes and cabbage from our neighbour and the freshly caught Grouper, not bad at all…. the kids are beginning to settle and make some friends which is so important in terms of the overall experience being a success . We all have days when we miss the UK, and often think “what are we doing here in the middle of the South Atlantic?” Most mornings when I travel down into the valley of Jamestown and see the sea I think of the Truman Show, as there is nothing ever on the horizon .  Maybe one day I will row out and see if it is one big reality show!!  Our new house is lovely, it has stunning views and is comfortable and modern. We all feel much more settled here and that will help us as the weeks pass and we think of what we would be doing at Ilex Way.

Other news, Archie is refusing to have his hair cut, god knows what it will look like when we visit in March 2018! Ruby was part of the 4 x 400m winning relay team in the inter-school athletics, Jo has been making lilies out of the local flax (takes all sorts) I have found a couple of fellow hockey chaps on the Island, so the idea of starting some coaching /team/ League / Entering a side in to the Olympics is starting to gather momentum!

Cooper remains gorgeous, I never thought I would have seen the day that Jo allows a dog onto our bed most mornings at 6am, but it happens, and most mornings I hear her say, ‘morning gorgeous boy’ (and then Cooper comes into the room!!) next month he is having the crown jewels chopped off, poor boy.

Other than that its business as usual, I am going to check out the golf course soon, Jo has a busy week of dog walking, food shopping and coffee meet ups and the kids will be kids.  I am looking forward to seeing Arsenal win the FA Cup on Saturday and will celebrate with a Castle Lite or two….

So I hope this blog is interesting to read, we aim to try and bring the Island to you via words, which at times is hard as sometimes we just can’t believe this place..

Isaac, Ruby, Archie, Jo and Matt…..xxxx

 

4 put up with mummy crying

I have days, and today is one of them when I really miss all my friends and family in the UK, I think about what we used to do together, what we’ll do when we come back on leave and look at our pictures on the computer whilst simultaneously walking around the house with tears rolling down my face. I’m even missing work!  I’m generally horrible and short tempered with Matt and the kids for no apparent reason.

I am enjoying St Helena, who wouldn’t love the warm weather, day trips, swimming in the ocean, puppy walks, meeting new people. It’s just not quite the same that’s all. I knew it wouldn’t be and if it was it wouldn’t be an adventure, we have never spent this long away from our friends and family before and this is a new experience for us.

I miss being able to pop round to friends for a cuppa or wine, nights out with the girls, friends and family party nights, Sunday roast, weekends away in the sunshine walking!?!! 

I know the kids are missing their friends desperately too and it sometimes makes me feel guilty that we have taken them away from their school and friends.

I don’t think that my feeling will change but I hope in time I have friends here in St Helena I can just pop over to see for a chat with a bottle too.  We are after all only 6 weeks in and friendships take time to develop. What I fear, very selfishly is that for my friends in the UK, us not being around will become normal and things won’t be the same when we come back.

You might even forget about us! “Do you remember the Ansell’s? what ever happened to them?!”

On the positive side, we are moving into a lovely new house tomorrow and as the MV  Helena arrived yesterday we will have our car and all our stuff in a few days, Hooray!! (Yoghurt too hopefully, odd I know but I have been really missing that!) I think having our things around us will help, we will be able to put all our pictures up and hopefully our new house will feel more like home.  We will post some photos in the next few days.

This afternoon we are going on a boat trip to see dolphins, do some fishing and swimming, I think that might make me feel better!

We are sending you all hugs, (it’s about the only thing we can send that won’t take 9 months to get to you) and asking that you don’t forget the Ansell’s, of course who could forget Matt’s hockey prowess, my musical taste, Ruby’s dazzling smile, Archie’s wiggle and Isaac’s trampolining flips…..

Lots of love

Jo x

P.S Please don’t feel sorry for me, I love being with my family here, life is great, I am just missing you all that’s all! And Erica you read my mind!

 

 

5 are 5 weeks in

 

A Day in the life of Matt……..

5 weeks into life in St Helena I thought it would be timely to update on what we have been getting up to and provide some comparisons to my working life in the UK.

Journey to work:

UK: depending on where I had to go it would involve anything from 45mins – 1.5hrs in my car, normally spending a fair proportion of this sat in traffic listening to Mr Evans breakfast show.

St Helena: a vigorous 10min stroll up the steep valley we live in to Rosemary Plain, from there I wait for my bus which takes me into my office in Jamestown via several twists and turns. Door to Door 30mins.

Arriving in the office:

UK: after spending 15mins trying to find somewhere to park, I walk into the office and then locate a desk (hot desking all the rage at WSCC!)

St Helena: I have my own office! I get off the bus, walk past the mango trees and then head up the stairs to my office. Often one of the team has already arrived at work and would have placed some freshly picked mangos on my desk. I start the day by opening the windows to let in the warm breeze and the chirping birds.

Going into the town at lunch:

UK: I Would often walk into Horsham, Chichester or Crawley depending on where I was working to buy some lunch. Often this would involve getting soaked in a downpour.

St Helena: If I have meetings at The Castle (Central government), I will stroll down the hill. This involves saying hello to all that you pass, and waving to all cars that pass you. The people of St Helena are very friendly and will always have time to stop and say hello and wish you a good day. The stroll offers an opportunity to enjoy the warm weather. I have already found a favourite place to eat lunch, the coffee shop on the front, serves great toasties and the perfect cup of St Helena coffee. Sitting looking out to sea provides a relaxing place to plan for meetings.

Leaving the Office:

UK: Return journey of traffic as per the morning……

St Helena: Firstly, most of the St Helena people leave work around 4.30pm. There is very little (if any) email traffic in the evenings. I do not have a smart phone for work so would not be able to check for emails even if there were any!!

When I leave the office, normally around 5.30pm, twice a week I change into my shorts and trainers and tackle ‘The Ladder’ 699 steps up the cliff face from the valley of Jamestown. I understand that the record stands at around 5mins…(incredible) I am currently around 14mins…I will aim for under 10mins in the next few months.

Evenings:

UK: For the last few years I would rarely get home to have dinner with my kids.

St Helena: We all eat dinner together, the main favourites are fresh tuna or wahoo steaks, with homemade coleslaw and salad, sometimes washed down with a bottle of Castle Lite..xx

We have no dish washer, but I have found washing up with the kids an enjoyable experience! Time to chat and laugh and get complaints about the standard of my washing up.

The main disadvantage is we have a South African TV network, at least 4 nights a week there seems to be some sort of football on, full Premier League, Champion League coverage…Jo insists on watching this every evening…life is tough… We do get some British programmes, we get BBC Brit which mainly runs Top Gear repeats from 10 years ago, Isaac loves this!

There are many things that I miss about the UK, my friends and family, hockey and our home. It does feel very weird being on an Island in the middle of the South Atlantic. I have already started to feel cut off, not getting regular news updates is weird.

I thought I would miss the convenience of being able to get anything whenever you wanted and a Sainsbury’s local just a 2min walk from our house, but I don’t mind the fact that there are no shops open after 6pm most nights, that the internet is the most expensive in the world so going online must be limited and that other than a few food stores there are literally no shops on the Island! I also don’t miss Jo trying to get me to go to B&Q!

I ‘m sure as time goes on there will be more things we miss, but it’s funny, when it comes down to it, friends and family are the most important things in life. We have left behind our parents (the kids grandparents) and we have left some amazing friends. But I really hope that those friendships stay strong and that when we return to our UK lives our friendships have not changed, and have continued to grow as true friendships last.

What the 5 have been up to over Easter…

Easter weekend in St Helena has many traditions. Maundy Thursday is celebrated by the men on the Island fishing overnight (off the rocks) and then fresh fish is cooked on Good Friday for families and hot cross buns eaten. Many St Helena people (Saints) camp over Easter.

So, I have no fishing rod and we don’t have our tent, so we were thinking….ummm not sure we are going to have a great weekend! However Good Friday arrived and we completed our first post box walk, The Heart Shaped Waterfall, we then swam in the beautiful clear and warm ocean before heading home for a family dinner.

We were then visited by the daughter of my Finance Manager, Mandy bearing gifts of homemade chocolate cake and fruit buns. It was such a thoughtful and lovely gesture for Mandy to have thought of our family and to have baked us some lovely cakes.

On Easter Saturday, we were invited out for a BBQ. The kids played all afternoon in the pool and we enjoyed a lovely afternoon and evening getting to know Frankie and Dean.

The beautiful weather continued all weekend, we were invited to a bring and share BBQ on Easter Sunday and then enjoyed a relaxing Bank Holiday Monday before eating out at Ann’s Place (a great restaurant in Jamestown)

It’s still very early days for us and our adventure has just begun. I’m sure there will be low points, (the dead rat Cooper brought Jo for a present is up there) and there will be times when we really miss people and will want to be back in the UK, but…. St Helena is an amazing place, its history and culture is fascinating and we are only just discovering it…….so, if I haven’t bored you too much, keep following us and we will keep you posted as we go along…

Love to all….Matt, Jo, Isaac, Ruby, Archie and cooper…xxx