St Helena Weather

Tuesday 28 July 2015

New Horizons and Boot Camp

The November 2002, SHG announced the New Horizons Youth Project.

Under the management of Nick Stevens since April 2006, ably assisted by his wife Tina, the Youth Club has grown in size and strength.

It runs a number of activities for the young people of Saint Helena Island and whilst it is fair to say that many of these are based around sporting activities, this is no means the only activities offered. In fact, New Horizons also provide the venue (and coaching) for other activities such as ‘Boot Camp’ on a Wednesday evening and Saturday morning. The Camp offers around a dozen circuits and it aimed at anyone trying to get fit or who just wants to come along to make a spectacle of themselves (That will be me!) During our time here Henry has often frequented New Horizons with his mates from school. He has taken part in the ‘Youth Games’ competing in table tennis, snooker and basketball, which he has very much enjoyed, even picking up a few medals in the process! He participated in guitar practice run at New Horizons and supported by Gareth Drabble, an acompliched local musician who has donated much of his spare time, assisting Henry in preparing fro his GCSE Music practical - Tears in Heaven - I posted a video of them performing it at Plantation House a few Blogs ago. Gareth is also a member of the Big Easy - talented local band, who often play at functions on the Island. Fellow band member Johnny Dillon has also helped Henry with his guitar playing and played along with him on the recrding of Tears in Heaven which had to be sent to the UK as part of Henry's GCSE work. Many people are very willing to help where they can, and we try very hard to reciprocate.  

New Horizons AKA Nick and Tina also organise and run a ‘Halloween Fun Night’ with considerable preparation beforehand and youth club members able to demonstrate their more ‘arty/crafty’ side building sets for the various scenes through the ‘House of Horror’ as well as engaging their acting skills.

St Helena Day is also organised by New Horizons, offering parades, floats and fun activities throughout the day.

Nick and Tina work tirelessly (and probably thanklessly) for the children (and people) of St Helena Island.

Recently a group of teens have got together and plan to start up another club, focusing less on sport and more on art, drama and craft activities. This is a great opportunity for the youth of the Island and I very much hope that both clubs can work alongside each other. As the new group (YESH) has already identified, there is a gap in the current offer and if the new club is smart, it will plan its activities to compliment rather than rival those on offer by New Horizons, meaning that the kids and young people can choose to be sporty and arty and not one or the other.

Thursday 11 June 2015

Woolly Hats and Rainbows part 2

And so to lack of blogging.
It’s been a funny couple of months, with friends coming on and off the Island, some on leave, others at end of contract and a few who have decided to go early. This makes to a very busy social period – dinners with friend going on leave – after all they will be away for almost 3 months, leaving do’s for those at end on contract or heading home, plus invitations for relatively new people and some that we know very well.
The working week usually finishes with meeting friends around 16.00 in either the Mule Yard or Donny’s for a well-earned end of week drink and catch-up for a couple of hours. Sometimes we grab something to eat at Get Carters (who operate on a Friday evening and Saturday – as they work elsewhere full-time in the week). However, it is important to note for newcomers – fast food isn’t – fast that is! Anywhere. No MacDonald’s. Burger King or KFC here or any other food chain. There are no speciality restaurants, apart from one Chinese in Jamestown – booking essential, or else they may not open!
A Saint was telling me yesterday that some visitors had gone out on Sunday and did not find anywhere open to eat – this is common, so be prepared.
So this last weekend, we were at Donny’s for a couple of hours on Friday after work, then back down in town for Boot Camp at 8 am Saturday morning. This was followed by a quick sandwich in Half Tree Hollow on the way home. In the afternoon, we had been invited to a BBQ and spent a very pleasant few hours in great company. On Sunday we called round to help a friend with the internet and ended up having an impromptu Sunday lunch, where we pretty much remained until the early evening. At 3pm, Andy had taken Henry to football, then collected him a few hours later. Crystal Rangers celebrated their first ever WIN, coming back from 5-1 down at half time to win 6-5 – the team were ecstatic and quite rightly so. So when Henry returned, our hosts very graciously reheated their leftovers to provide Henry with a slap up celebratory lunch – thank you Nicola and Stephen.
Whilst not every weekend is as hectic as this, it doesn’t slow down much! This coming weekend, the boys are going sea fishing on Saturday. Boot Camp will be calling me  early on Saturday and some friends have a market stall selling ‘stuff’ as they are leaving soon. The following weekend there are several ‘leaving do’s’ and a few friends are also returning after leave, so more get-togethers  to come.
Time for a rest I think and in 9 weeks we will begin our journey back to the UK for some well-earned leave 

Woolly Hats and Rainbows

It’s been a while since I blogged – too much going on both workwise and socially.
The weather has changed significantly over the last week. The temperature has dropped down to a lowly 16 degrees. As this is now my third summer, I have acclimatised to the heat and as a consequence, now need to break out the jumpers!
Other, more recent arrivals on the Island are still in shorts and a t-shirt and eye me mysteriously in my long shirt and jacket!
I did see my first woolly hat wearer of the winter (well still officially autumn until the 21st!) on the trip to Jamestown this morning. He was huddled over wearing a woolly beany type hat and a thick jacket. My work colleague arrived complete with scarf and jacket informing me that it was cold this morning in Longwood. There is definitely a chill in the air, but I wouldn’t say it’s cold.
In fact when in the UK 16 degrees is the temperature it has to reach before I take the roof OFF my Audi A4 convertible..
And so to rainbows! I had forgotten how many rainbows the Island gets through the winter months. On Saturday morning having completed ‘Boot Camp’ at New Horizons in Jamestown from 8 am, we were sitting at Tasty Bites in Half Tree Hollow awaiting bacon sandwiches, when a rainbow emerged slowly from between two valleys. It rose up and spread out towards the sea, reminding me of how many rainbows, including double ones that I have seen through my time here. They are stunning and with the equally stunning backdrop of the Island’s rugged volcanic geography, I cannot think of more dramatic setting for rainbows anywhere in the world

Saturday 11 April 2015


I’ve written before about the occasional and bizarre shortages that occur on the Island. Around Christmas we had a shortage of Egg Noodles – as they are a dried packet food, you’d think they would always be available, but not so! You’d think that this would be down to bad planning by merchants, however, as I discovered recently, often the items are ordered, but then for whatever reason, they don’t turn up. I’ve experienced this myself on a Tesco on-line order. It is fine if they substitute or are out of stock of an item if you actually take delivery of it the next day. Sometimes my order will arrive anywhere between 8 and 12 weeks from the order date and (as was the case at Christmas) although my Xmas order arrived in December, having been ordered in early October, receiving a delivery note telling me what hadn’t been sent or what had been substituted really wasn’t helpful!

So to other shortages of late. Current and most recently potatoes seem to have disappeared from the shelves. I am in the process of growing my own, but it will take a while before they are ready to dig up! Also eggs are currently in short supply, this apparently down to the chicken not liking the change of season. Lettuce is often unavailable. At least it's rare to have lettuce, tomato and cucumber on your plate in the same week! I’ve just started growing my own! A few weeks ago it was impossible to buy tinned dog food. We shipped a few sacks of Bakers Complete out with us, but we like to vary it from time to time. 'In date' mayonnaise was a casualty around the same time, so I could pay 50p for mayonnaise that went out of date in October, but no amount of money was going to buy me 'in date' mayonnaise. Of course the range isn’t so vast here so if I see mayonnaise I buy it regardless of whether it’s my favourite variety!

There is a plentiful supply of meat – pork, beef, lamb and goat which can be ordered in advance from the butcher. The price is reasonable too. Fish is often available fresh from the fish monger on a daily basis and what you get depends on what has been caught – largely yellow fin tuna, but occasionally wahoo, marlin or even swordfish if the mercury levels aren’t too high.

We are largely dependent on the RMS arriving from Cape Town once every three weeks or so for fresh fruit – very little is grown here. It also depends on what is in season as to what we get, so on the last ship in we had apples (red and green), oranges, kiwi fruit and a few grapes. Sometimes we might get water melon and/or pineapple, but sometimes the fruit is in a poor state by the time it arrives. This is the main reason we have a very large fridge as it helps to prolong the life of fruit and vegetables and the next ship isn’t back here for at least 3 weeks……….

So do we go hungry – no definitely not! We’ve all put on a few pounds. I’ve tried to follow weightwatchers or similar, but you just can’t buy the things you need or find adequate substitutes. I used to cook all the time with quark and crème fraiche – neither exist here. The closest I get sometimes is natural yoghurt and/or UHT milk. Bread comes in one variety – freshly baked but very heavy. Well to be fair you do get white and brown, but it's not brown as you know it in the UK. Cereals are limited and rice largely comes in 2 varieties white or not so white.

So don't come here thinking you will starve - You most definitely won't, but you have to be adaptable and be prepared to eat what's in season or shipped in and not be hung up on you favourite food or a particular brand. I treat it as an adventure and foraging in the various shops is a delight!

Sunday 29 March 2015

Twenty-Six Years On

So what was I doing today, 26 years ago? Getting married to my gorgeous husband Andy! We didn’t know what the future held for us but here we are still together and happy more than a quarter of a century later with having created three boys. The fact that one of them is no longer with us is a stark reminder of how strong we have been as a family over the years. We have laughed and cried together and had each other to lean on in times of sadness.

George and Henry have grown to be strong, handsome, well-balanced young men who are both starting to forge their own ways in life and who knows what theirs will look like. As with any parent, I wish them both a long and very happy life and hope they take advantage of the opportunities that come their way.

Of course this time last year we were celebrating our Silver wedding anniversary and we had a party jointly with Deanna Woosey who turned 18 in the same week. And in a few more weeks we will have been living on this beautiful island for 2 years. It really doesn't seem possible. So in a few months’ time we will have to start looking for employment elsewhere. Who knows where that search will take us? What I do know is that we will be together wherever ‘there’ is!

Sunday 22 March 2015

Running to Catch Up

I’ve been a bit slack with the Blog over the last few weeks – not because nothing much has happened – rather that too much has happened!
The first devastating news came on 26th January when we learnt that our good friends Hazel and David were not going to be returning to the Island after all. We sort of knew when we said ‘Bon Voyage’ in late November, but it was still a shock when we had the phone call that confirmed it!

That left a house full of possessions, furniture, food etc that would need disposing of and/or packing up to be shipped back to the UK. Having agreed to take on the task for our friends, we literally spent the next three weeks driving over to Piccolo Hill every evening after work to pack their belongings into 50 boxes! We spent time there at the weekends too, so it was a relief to finalise the packing and selling in time for their belongings to be crated and sent off on the ship to Cape Town on 26th February.
The packing certainly kept us out of trouble for a few weeks, but on a Tuesday it enabled us to drop Henry off at Gareth Drabble’s house, where Gareth was helping Henry perfect his GCSE Music ensemble – Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton.

In fact we were all treated to an early performance of his exam piece when he and Gareth performed at the SPCA fund raiser – Last Night of the Proms – at Plantation House. The evening was a roaring success with well over £1,000 raised for the charity. Excellent hosting by the Governor and Mrs Capes too! A large marquee had been erected outside enabling guests to mingle in the interval with a glass of wine and a few nibbles. Here's a video of Henry and Gareth performing at Plantation House.

The following weekend we finally got around to hosting our housewarming party at Spring Knoll. My mass catering skills were put to the test as we provided supper for around 50 guests! We had also brewed our first batch of ‘hooch’ (allegedly Cabernet Sauvignon) which went down surprisingly well with our guests – so much so that I now need to do another batch!
So you can see, we have not really had much time to sit down and write, but hopefully this will make up for my tardiness!
I’ve written before about the challenges facing the Island if a medical emergency arises. This unfortunately happened for real on Friday when a 7 year old girl was taken very seriously ill. The RMS was4 days away and it wasn’t an option to wait for her to arrive. During the day the Island issued a number of SOS assistance calls, hoping to evoke a response from a closer ship. Eventually a Dutch cargo ship responded positively and altered their course in order to reach the Island in the early hours of Saturday morning. The girl was boarded along with medical personnel from the Island and the ship set off for Ascension Island where a military plane was waiting to fly her to London and Great Ormond Street Hospital. She arrived in a stable condition in the UK on Monday. The cargo ship had to go several hundred miles out of its way, but has done so free of charge to enable the young girl to receive medical treatment. Everyone on the Island is extremely grateful. I can truly say that after almost 2 years on the Island, I feel part of the community and part of the Island. As Simon Russell would say – assimilation complete Helen!
Read all about it here in the national paper

Friends All Over The World

Today is my very good friend Mandy’s birthday. It’s the second one I’ve missed since moving to St Helena Island and I am a little sad that I can’t be there to celebrate as we would have done in the past. We will make up for it when we meet up later in the year. Miss you matey x
We really do have friends everywhere these days. Friends in America, Australia, New Zealand, St Helena, Ascension to name but a few as well as good old Blighty too.
And friends who move away at the end of contract or to fulfill a work requirement. Hazel –When are you coming back?
Living so far away from many of our friends makes you realise who the true ones are. There’s some we don’t speak to for months, yet when we do speak, it’s like we’ve spoken every day. There are others who make the effort to speak to us on Skype or FaceTime occasionally and there are new friends to be made due to the constant churn of contracts starting and ending.
Gill contacted me through the Blog to find out about bringing a dog to St Helena Island. This was before she’d even got an interview. We hit it off straight away, so it was exciting to find out a few weeks later that she’d got the job. We corresponded regularly over many weeks, Gill asking questions and me trying to answer, but we got there and the container was packed up and shipped off in December arriving on Island next month after its epic journey across the North, Mid and South Atlantic. We even managed to Skype just before Xmas, giving Gill and partner Martin an insight into technology St Helena style!
In early January they began their journey to the Island, flying with the military from Brize Norton to Ascension, where the plane refuels before completing its flight to Mount Pleasant on the Falkland Islands. Spending a few days on Ascension watching turtles and socialising, before joining the RMS St Helena for the three night voyage to the Island, they were well adjusted by the time they arrived.
Arriving on a Friday morning meant it was compulsory to meet up later at Donny’s so Gill and Martin were given a whistle stop tour of the Island by Gill’s boss, Pam, introduced to their new home, given time to unpack, before meeting at Donny’s at a little after 4. So we all had a few drinks before heading off in different directions for the evening.
Gill and Martin are staying at Thompsons Hill – around 10 minutes from Spring Knoll, so we met on Saturday morning and drove into Jamestown for a tour of the shops. Andy went diving and Henry had gone to Lemon Valley with friends, so after an exciting morning ‘hunting and gathering’ AKA showing Martin the best places to buy various items, we met Andy for coffee.
Later that day Gill, Martin, Pam and Mike came round for dinner. Lovely end to a great day with new friends, watching the sun set on this beautiful island.