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



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