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?!………