Saturday 23 November
For the first time since arriving, we made it down to the market in Jamestown hoping to be in time to buy some bananas at the Growers’ Market stall, which sells only local produce. I was keen to make more banana ice cream as it is an easy and tasty recipe. We’ve worked our way through the first bunch of ripe mini-bananas in our garden. There are five more, but all still very green. Even though we were quite early, the bananas had gone. But, hurray, for the first time we found fresh fish on sale at the opposite stall. Most of it had already been sold but I had my eye on the swordfish chunks, and was pleased to be told that it could be used in a curry. I had enjoyed eating swordfish at 2onMain a few evening earlier where we had gone to eat dinner with Nicolet, the DFID advisor currently visiting the island.
We shopped in more shops than I’ve ever visited in all the time we’ve been here: The Star, Thorpe’s, Victoria, Rose and Crown, Queen Mary’s and the Emporium. It’s certainly a different experience than visiting one large supermarket with a familiar range of products. I found pecorino cheese, passion fruit compote and a large plastic bowl (for sourdough bread making). There was excitement when we found parsnips, even though they were soft and wrinkly. However, at over £4 a kilo we had to reject them. No Christmas parsnips for Alan this year..
This was the first opportunity to visit the Arts and Crafts Centre next to the Tourist Office as it is only open during the week while I am at work. There are some lovely local creations being produced from flax, wood, paper and fleece. Lace work is also on show as well as paintings by local artists. G-unique is a jewellery company that has started making bookmarks, earrings, pendants and key rings based on the tortoises, wirebirds, blushing snails, ebony flower etc. We saw those in the National Trust office where we called by to pick up instructions for a walk to Blue Point that is still in development as a ‘post box’ walk. There are currently 21 post box walks across the island that range from easy to very difficult. At the furthest point of each is a stamp inside a post that provides evidence of accomplishing the walk. Alan so far has 12 stamps and is keen to complete the challenge before we leave.
Nicolet and Val (who owns Periwinkle) were planning to walk to Blue Point to test out the walk and had invited us to join them. After a quick drive home for lunch and to get ready, we met them opposite St Paul’s cathedral where we carried on in one vehicle parking close to the lane that leads up to Jerusalem, Ball Alley and on to Blue Point. I was able to spare a few hours out of contact as the on call doctor was the surgeon, Dr Carlos. It was an exhilarating experience standing on the tops of hills that run down into cliffs over a thousand feet high with the wind blowing freshly from the over the bright blue, white flecked and glistening sea. All along the path there was evidence of the National Trust at work with baby endemic plants newly planted or waiting to be put into the ground. How different it is going to look in ten years or so when all the barren areas of St Helena will be covered once again with the plants and trees that once flourished here before men traumatised the terrain so much.
Saturday 23rd November
All was quiet at the hospital while I was out. Once we got back, it was early evening and time to make dinner. We spent a pleasant evening watching The Social Network: the second time for Alan but the first for me as I’d slept through most of it on the previous occasion many months ago..
Sunday 24th November
My Sunday started at 01.00h with a phone call from the midwife, D, to say that there was a woman in labour at the hospital. After a quick hairwash (vanity vanity), I drove down the hill, amazed to see how busy the road was at 01.30h with traffic coming against me all the way down to the bottom of Ladder Hill Road. This baby was not due until 9th December but decided she wanted to be here well in time for Christmas. All went well with a faster than average labour for a first time Mum. I managed to get home by 7 am, where Alan met me with a cup of tea.
We had planned for me to take Alan, Nicolet, Val and another walker out to Flagstaff Hill for them to walk up Flagstaff then down and up to Sugarloaf Hill. Plan B was put into action: Alan would drive out, do most of the walk but then head back to the car, while the others carried on to Jamestown.
I slept until 11 then phoned to see how our new Mum and baby were doing. There is a current shortage of midwives and from the conversation it seemed better if I went down to do my best in that important role 🙂 I stayed for three hours helping the mum with the baby as she was on her own. Alan was then back home and able to come and collect me so I could be home in time to finish preparing dinner for our guests.
It was just as well I had already made a good start with the food preparations. In fact, I had made the curry sauce on Saturday night and the ‘starters’ (black-eyed and mint bean dip and green olive tapenade) on the Sunday morning. The flat seeded crackers, made from a free pack of out-of-date Tesco’s scone mix and some lovely seeded flour bought here but from Norfolk, were in dough form just needing to be rolled out (using an empty plastic water bottle as a rolling pin!), cut and baked. All was ready when Lewis, Lauren and Jack arrived – just the dips to blend; I needed Lauren’s hand blender for that. Lewis cut up the fresh swordfish and within five minutes of adding it to the curry sauce it was cooked through. Our other guests, Rob and Josie who we first met on the RMS St Helena, then arrived. After dinner, which was finished off with pumpkin pie ice cream made with local pumpkin in the absence of bananas, we played Settlers. Alan won easily. So ended another St Helena weekend.