Friday, 12 December 2008
Monday, 8 December 2008
Thursday, 27 November 2008
The Tide Mill at Eling has been absorbing my attention recently. I popped over to see it and have a chat with the Mill Assistants, John Hurst (pictured beside the giant waterwheel) and Andrew Turpin. This proved to be a very informative afternoon and I was soon absorbed in the history of this unique place.
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Southampton said 'Farewell' in style last night to the QE2. Thousands turned out in the bitter cold to wave, take photos and video as she backed up to Mayflower Park for a grand firework display and then steamed out of port for the last time.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
The wind blew and the cold numbed hands. The boat I had booked a place on to go out and photograph the QE2 farewell events could not sail, as the sea was so rough.
Monday, 10 November 2008
Friday, 31 October 2008
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
I enjoyed an excellent meeting of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ) at their Regional Meeting in Chichester last week. The guest speaker was Janet Lawrence, cookery and crime writer (she wrote the Caneletto and Darina Lisle series') and inspirational speaker. She gave a witty talk on how she became a writer, with tips on how to write a crime novel. I was interested to hear that you do not necessarily have to know about police procedure or forensics to write a who-dun-it?! As crime novels are more likely to be read than any other genre of fiction, writing such a book is attractive to many. I might well give it a try myself. Watch this space...
I am delighted to be taking over as editor of the Society's magazine, The Woman Writer. I am looking forward to meeting the challenge of producing a 24 page colour magazine five times a year and getting to know the Society members whilst doing so.
Talking of meeting Society members, Sylvia Kent has an excellent blog which gives much interesting coverage to the activites of the SWWJ. I recommend her blog for a thoroughly good read: http://www.sylviakent.blogspot.com/
Now, back to writing.....
Friday, 19 September 2008
We have noticed several changes to England. The green brigade has become more vocal since we left in January 2001. Now the environment is a community concern. The local recycling and waste disposal facility near my parents' home has just been reorganised and residents are trying to get used to the new layout and ways of doing things. Sign posts are low down and not easily visible from a car, so there are lots of pedestrians carrying or dragging large bags of rubbish from their cars to the point of disposal, often some distance away. I am sure that this will be sorted out eventually but for now, there are a lot of confused recyclers in Kingston! The point though, is that there are a lot of recyclers - the message is getting through and people are doing their bit.
I noticed that Woolworths, the store where I had my first Saturday job back in the dark ages, is in financial trouble and the huge shop it had in Southampton is now no longer there. Shame. I used to love wandering around this massive branch. You never knew what you were going to find on its shelves, although the last few times I visited I did wander if the decision makers at Head Office actually knew what their customers wanted. There was a bewildering assortment of pink TVs, sweets sold by weight and cheap household products. As I say, part of the charm was not knowing what you were going to find when you browsed. I shall miss Southampton's store when we move back to the area next week.
There seem to be a lot of large cars for sale now. No doubt this is due to the government's road tax amendments, which make it very expensive to run high powered, fuel inefficient vehicles on Britain's road nowadays. Joe and I are looking for another car and find we are spoilt for choice amongst those cars with engines bigger than 2.0 litres. We were thinking of a small hatchback, about 1.4 -1.6 litres and are finding that we are not the only ones who want such a car. Prices are high and we are blinking! We will keep looking I think.
We are staying with my parents for a short while. This is proving quite a nice way to reacquaint ourselves with our home country. As I have mentioned, we have been out picnicking and I took my mother out for a 'girls day out' to London yesterday.
This was a real eye-opener to me. My mother is not good on her feet after a very short while and so I decided to dig out the wheelchair she dislikes hugely and take that along with us on our day out. I called the railway and booked assistance and checked the various venues we might go to, to see if they were wheelchair friendly. They were, so off we went. Southwest trains were excellent and staff there provided ramps to get on and off the railway carriages with no hassle, City Cruises from Waterloo pier were equally helpful (as were several passersby - thanks gentlemen) so we had an enjoyable trip up and down the river to Greenwich and back, two taxi drivers were very good indeed in getting mother into their taxis with portable ramps that appeared as if by magic and the staff at Brown's Hotel, where we went for afternoon tea (wonderful), were completely unfazed by a lady in a wheelchair. This all made the day very enjoyable indeed.
Ok all for this post. We are helping my parents to sort their shed out - a mammoth task!
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
We have met with nothing but courtesy and kindness. I keep getting lost and wandering around with a dazed expression on my face, much to the amusement of my husband! He, of course, knows just where he is the moment he goes to a place once and is able to navigate from one end of the ship to the other without thinking about which deck he should be on - he just knows!
A transatlantic crossing is not like a cruise. We do not go to one port after another for one thing. We last sighted land on Thursday and hope to see it again today as we are due in port tomorrow morning. In the interim we have had our days filled with all kinds of amusements and have had such a hectic social life it has been a bit breath-taking to tell the truth!
The forensic anthropologist and crime writer, Aaron Elkins, has been on board and we have attended several of his lectures on his life and work. He has a very down to earth approach to his work and did not write his first novel until he was fifty. Fame has come later in life and he gives the impression that it is still something of a novelty. A charming man, it was a pleasure to share a little of his time.
Also on board has been Nigel West, aka Rupert Allason (a different life completely), intelligence historian and writer, he currently lectures at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies in Washington DC. He gave an excellent lecture on the exploits of 'Garbo,' the WW2 double agent and West's efforts to track down the elusive individual after the war. His talk on Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, was equally interesting. Anyone offered a chance to hear this gentleman speak is well advised to do so. He is a witty and compelling speaker.
We have dressed up a lot this trip! My favourite ball gown, orange and black (sounds awful but is beautiful in reality) is showing a little wear and will need some TLC when we get back. I have worn it a lot over time and it shows. Joe too has to make some repairs to his DJ. He was dismayed to find he was missing a button and did not have a spare. On a smart ship like this, one cannot go out abroad with a missing button! Luckily, he has a tuxedo with him and it was just back from the dry cleaners...
I have been doing a little work too. I interviewed the Master of the QM2, the delightful Commodore Bernard Warner, for a British and an Indian magazine. Commodore Warner was interested and interesting and the resulting interview will, I hope, be enjoyed by many readers when it is published in January and November respectively.
Well, that is all for this post. More another time!
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
We were seen off by several friends and well wishers, which, I must say, was as unexpected as it was welcome. We sat and thought about it and realised that we have lived in Anguilla longer than any other country in the last 13 years! It brought a lump to both our throats when we bade farewell and knew it was for the last time.
We flew on an Anguilla Aviation Services' charter flight to St Maarten (a fantastic service, giving us a chance to overfly Anguilla in a small aeroplane and see the island one last time before we finally landed in St Maarten), caught the American Airlines flight to JFK, (all our bags arrived with us in New York I am pleased to report!) and we are now here in the Big Apple.
It is a beautiful day and we have walked through Central Park, had a wander around some of the shops, stopped off at an internet cafe to check emails (I am awaiting replies to several messages) and will shortly go off and look for a new laptop as the time has come to try a Mac. This evening we have tickets for Spamalot, the Monty Python show we have been trying to get tickets for every since it hit theatres. We are both fans of Python so are looking forward to a good laugh!
We will be here until Thursday, when we board the Queen Mary 2 for our homeward voyage.
More on this in a later posting.
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
I must say it was a bit of a wrench. The house, on Sea Rocks, Island Harbour, on the north east of the island, has been our home for 3 years and 3 months. It was comfortable and cosy.
The view, out to sea across the reef, was wonderful. Over time we have spotted whales swimming by and watched exciting boat races, seen unwary boats hit the reef and chuckled at the attempts to rescue them.
We have sat out at night star gazing, held shooting star spotting competitions (the record was 6 in an hour!) and relaxed with friends on the terrace over a glass of wine.
We have watched the local wild chickens bring up countless chicks in the garden, laughed at the cheeky Yellow Breast's love of sugar and all things sweet and been thankful there were so many geckos to eat some of the mosquitos.
I have wandered about the garden taking photos of flowers and fruit growing in seemingly impossible places, from the inhospitably rocky ground. The pink grapefruit were a real plus!
Leaving meant a massive cleanup operation, involving a sort out of everything and then packing and sweeping, moping and tidying what was left. As we departed we were sad but it was then a shell of what it had been and no longer the happy home it once was. It was sterile and stood ready for the next occupants. They will put their mark on the house and make it their own, just as we did.
Now we are living in a hotel. Paradise Cove is in the West End of the island and we have a very nice apartment with all mod-cons. There is a swimming pool on site, which we have made full use of in a vain attempt to get a bit fit before we leave the island on Monday! I think we are doomed to failure but it's fun trying!
Thursday, 21 August 2008
For those of you who might like to read what I have written, keep an eye on www.allatsea.net and go to the Anguilla pages. July's edition is online at present and there is an archive if you fancy reading past articles. August will be available at the beginning of September.
Friday, 15 August 2008
Regular readers of this blog may remember that I am addicted to the Open University in England and earlier this year graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in Humanities, specialising in Art History and Classical Studies. This was picked up on by the university purely because I have studied in some unusual places whilst with the OU. When they were contacted by a writer wanting unusual study stories, the University passed my details on to them.
So, if any one wants to read a little about me, obtain a copy of Country Life!
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
One thing that has really annoyed me is that people have used the blogs to send me viruses via the comments. This has led me to withdraw some of the blogs to stop people targeting the site. This is in effect curtailing free speech but I am not sure what else to do. I cannot continue to field virus infected comments, which arrive in my email inbox before coming to the blog, and the only way I can think of to stop them is to take off the target blogs.
At least from all this I know that there is an audience out there in readerland, even if some of them are malicious.
Monday, 11 August 2008
I had hoped that our last Carnival on Anguilla would be fun. It was in part but this event has tainted the whole affair. Shame.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
After more than 3 years on island, following over 3 years in Bangladesh, we are on the move again. This time it is back to Blightly where things will have changed somewhat since we were last resident there.
We had packers in all day yesterday and are expecting them in again today. It is amazing how many things we have accumulated! Now we are sorting, trashing, boxing, storing and hope it will all be complete by Thursday afternoon. I have had enough already.
Wish us luck!
Monday, 28 July 2008
Yesterday was our final session. So far we have found out how easy it is to capsize our craft, how hard it is to right it again, have learnt some of the mysteries of the 'foreign language' that sailors use and I have found out just how painful it is to be hit repeatedly by the boom! We have managed to sail in a straight line and just about managed to tack. We have learnt about 'ticklers' and their role in steering.
All of this is exciting stuff! I freely admit that I am an impatient person and need to really keep at things which are difficult. There have been times over the course of the class when I was just overwhelmed with the difficulty of trying to skipper the craft, was seeing stars from various attacks from the boom and just wanted to get back on dry land! I am glad I persevered though. Joe and I may not be the world's most elegant sailors but we can make a boat go in the vague direction we want it to go in now and have actually been able to have a bit of fun learning to do so!
In three weeks time we are going on an away day with the club, when we will be sailing to Sandy Island, in open water (!), for a picnic and then sailing back to Anguilla again. That is the plan anyway.... Fingers crossed!
Tuesday, 22 July 2008
Usually I quite welcome a call, as it is often very quiet during the day at home when I am working. A little respite from my laptop is something to look forward to. Today though, when the calls hit double figures in the morning as I am trying to get my head around editing a piece I wrote a little while ago and which just will not come together, I did not need any more distractions!
So why did so many people call? My mother had been contacted by our bank in the UK, who wanted to talk to my husband. I should explain that someone cloned my husband's ATM card when he was last in England and thieves have emptied our bank account. This we did not take kindly to, as you may imagine. Luckily, our bank is professional and we will get our money back but in the meantime, there are procedures to go through.
My mother has taken the plunge and dyed her hair orange. Whether this was deliberate or not, I do not know. I rather think she was aiming for ginger but it is clearly bright orange, particularly where her hair is grey at the temples. She has had it all cut short, used a cut price dye that washes out in 8 washes and had some fun experimenting. Of course, I had to see what she looked like, so that was a long Skype call, particularly when my father came on the line and we had to wait while he tried to remember what it was he wanted to tell me. Bless him, I think age is creeping up on him. He declined my mother's kind offer of dying the wisps of hair he has left with the remnants of her hair dye. I now keep imagining how the pair of them would have looked if mother had had her way!
I took several business calls this morning too. There seems to be so much going on just as we are getting ready to leave the island. I am busier now than I was earlier in the year when I was covering regattas, flower shows and ship's visits and buzzing around the island interviewing everyone from cake and pie makers to newspaper editors and pop stars!
Anyway, it has now been quiet for a couple of hours and I have broken the back of the article I have been having problems with. I will look at it again tomorrow and then submit it with a sigh of relief and get on with the next one. No peace for the wicked!
Monday, 21 July 2008
I seem to have spent much of it wet and 60 feet, or more, deep. I was working on my deep diver and night diver certifications and these meant that I went off exploring and doing underwater drills to pass the qualifications. Normal life was put on hold for a while.
Night diving is not a passion of mine. I was glad of the almost full moon, which light up the water and kept me sane. I love to see the wonderful colours a torch can bring out in marine life but it is what you cannot see beyond the beam that I worry about.
On Thursday I finished the last dive and so qualified not just as a Deep Diver and a Night Diver but as a Master Scuba Diver too. To say I am chuffed is an understatement! I am delighted.
My long suffering instructor, Rob, is, I think, relieved to have got me through it. He freely admits, and I agree with him, that he did not think I would do it. I know that if he had let go of my hand on the first dive I would not have taken a second. I was frightened, literally out of my depth and had bitten off more than I could chew.
I hate things to beat me so I came back, finished the course and was hooked. Since those early days I have taken several more courses and readers of this blog will have suffered with me through the gruelling Rescue Diver course I completed a couple of months ago.
So now I am taking a rest from diving for a day or so and am catching up with other things.
Diving does not go away though. My husband, Joe and our friend, Sheryl, took their Advanced Diver Certification and Sheryl's other half, Michael, and I took a boat ride out to watch their torch lights moving about on the wreck of the Cathley H for their final, qualifying night dive. For me this was a novelty as I am usually the one under the water looking up, not the one out of the water, looking down! They both passed the dive and so, are now Advanced Divers. I could not be more proud of them.
At the beginning of the week I heard I had beaten off over fifty other writers to land a regular commission as a Travel Writer and Researcher, writing for an internet company which produces travel guides for cruiseship passengers. I was quite pleased with myself and look forward to the new work with enthusiasm.
I met the Anguilla Community Band the week before last and was charmed by their commitment to representing the island at functions large and small. My article on the band was published on July 18th in The Anguillian (www.anguillian.com) and I hope that there are readers out there who can assist them. They exist without regular sponsorship and it is goodwill and sheer determination that keeps them going. At present they need instruments, so if anyone has any old brass, woodwind or indeed, any instrument that they do not need, then please contact me and I will put you in touch with the band director, Allan Coppin.
The Anguilla Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACOCI) is not letting me go easily. Despite my having undertaken my last interview for ACOCI Connection, I have been asked to retain my editorial role with the publication. This is good news as this has been a labour of love for a long time now. Wherever I end up in the world the miracle of modern technology will mean I can still stay in touch.
I received a message out of the blue this morning from a new Indian magazine whose editor has seen one of my yachting articles and wants me to write more such pieces for his publication. I have replied and asked for details but this seems like a good start to a new week.
So, what will this new week hold? I have several articles 'on the go' and must finish these this week, so I think I will be largely office based. Next week we are being packed up for the Big Move, so I have to think about what I will need over the next few weeks and make sure these items do not get accidently put into packing cases. It would be just my luck to have packed my card reader, dictaphone or the mains leads for the laptop!
More of this in future blogs.
Monday, 7 July 2008
I first became involved with ACOCI in December 2006, when I was approached by a volunteer with the Chamber asking if I would be interested in writing for, taking photographs and editing a new publication that the Chamber wished to bring out. ACOCI had had a one page newsletter up until this point and wished to make a proper magazine out of the production. I was to be the one to take the project forward.
ACOCI is a small Chamber. It has less than 100 supporting members and so money is always tight. Nevertheless, Executive Director, Calvin Bartlett, had big ideas. He and I, and the talented layout professional, Valerie Zaharia, got together and decided just what we would do and how we would go about it.
Our first effort was a four page publication in colour, printed on cheap, thin paper but it was substantially more rewarding for ACOCI members than its flimsy predecessor. It covered the AGM and, for the first time, offered members the chance to interact with each other via the newsletter. From here we moved on to targeting individual companies and looking at why they joined the Chamber and what benefits they got out of it. Little by little the word spread. Soon we were up to 8 pages in quality paper and struggling to contain all we wanted to report on within it. Some editions have overspilled into flyers inside the main edition. We started to attract advertising and, although this is something that the newsletter needs to work on in the future, it started to generate income towards paying for itself. We now have business people contacting the Chamber and asking to be interviewed for the magazine. From a very small beginning a thriving magazine has been born.
It will be hard to leave my baby behind. As all parents know, letting go is difficult. I am not sure if it will be in good hands when I leave the island at the beginning of September. It may be that I will retain some of my writing and editing duties purely because there is no one else on the island willing to take it on. The wonders of modern technology mean that email makes my working for the Anguilla Chamber a viable option, even from England.
Today though, as I chatted with the Director of the Financial Services Commission for the next edition, I reflected that this would be my last interview. Over time, I have talked to many local business people, many of whom have gone on to become friends. This is, after all, a small island. I will miss this opportunity to get to know people in this manner.
I will be photographing the Anguilla Carnival for the newsletter as I did last year. This should be my final official act as photographer and will lead to the my final editing of my final edition. A sober thought.
Sunday, 6 July 2008
Yesterday I was browsing the Open University website (http://www.open.ac.uk/), as I do periodically, to see if anything new has been added to the long list of under and post graduate courses my Alma Mater offers. I found all kinds of subjects!
A couple of years ago the university began a creative writing course at undergraduate level. I thought then that it would be a good idea to take it, as the more you learn, the more you realise there is to learn. Now I find that a second course has been added and the two can be linked to a Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing. The course looks interesting and so I have signed up. Hopefully by the time I get to finish it there will be a Masters course I like the look of and so will be able to take that.
I find studying with the Open University addictive and I think that I will be taking many more courses as the years progress.
In the meantime, I am to be one of three graduates featured in an article for Country Life magazine in the UK in the near future. Writer Sue Corbett contacted the Open University looking for adult learners who have taken degrees later in life. The university put her in touch with me and the rest, as they say, is history. I will let you know when the article is printed.
Wednesday, 2 July 2008
Recently my diving has been quite stressful. I had not been able to dive for quite a while due to bad weather, ill health or just plain being too busy and when I started diving again it was in preparation for taking the Rescue Diver Course. This meant quite a lot of stress. With the Rescue Diver qualification under my belt, I can relax a bit and that is what I have done.
I have been diving from a boat since I began diving. I thought I knew all there was to know about boats, and diving from them. Little did I know just how much I did not know!
The course consists of a course book to read, with knowledge reviews to complete, a dvd to watch and then two practical dive sessions from a boat. As courses go it was a nice and leisurely way to learn about things I had, frankly, taken for granted. I had not thought about such things as bilge pumps and marine radios, taking it for granted that in the event of the boat sinking divine intervention would kick in and the boat would stay afloat and someone, anyone, would happen by and rescue all aboard. Now I know that bilge pumps have little flaps on them which automatically start the pump when the amount of water in the bilge reaches a certain level. Now I understand why we will not sink! I also know now that help can be summoned on channel 16 on the marine radio. It might not miraculously appear.
I was given a life jacket and told to put it on. Luckily for me I have worn all kinds of such jackets in my time and this one, the rectangular shaped variety which goes over your head with straps around your waist to a clip in the front, was one I had encountered before.
I tried my hand at driving the boat. Have you ever tried this? For those readers who have, you will understand my saying how hard it is to keep to a straight line. For those who have not, let me assure you that when you see a boat captain effortlessly steering, it is not as easy as it looks! I was not too bad at slow speed but when I tried to go faster I got my lefts and rights mixed up, sorry, my ports and starboards mixed up, and ended up going in a circle rather swiftly! It gave all on board, including myself, a good laugh.
And there you have the crux of this course. It made me laugh. Even when I tried to tie some of the knots I should know and my instructor, endlessly patient bless him, showed me over and again until, eventually, I got it, it was still fun. No cross words in the heat of stress, just lots of interesting things to try out and some great diving as the weather was kind to us. I can honestly say I laughed more on this course than I ever have on any course, even the wonderful underwater photography qualification I took last year.
If there are any divers out there in readerland who may be looking at the Boat Diver Speciality Course and thinking that it is not worth the effort, think again. Even though I have done all my diving from a boat, I still learnt a lot of things that I would not have done without the course. Now I understand what the crew are thinking and why they do things the way they do. It will give me a greater insight into boat operation when I dive in the future and has already enhanced my enjoyment of diving itself.
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
I volunteer my time one afternoon a week at the school, helping to teach English to children who are speakers of other languages. This afternoon the children arrived full of news.
The secondary (high) school is just up the road and there is a pupil from the school who has taken to turning up at the primary school and playing with the younger children, particularly the girls. I do not know what, if anything, has been said about this, but the fact is that today he turned up and one of the primary school boys attacked him with a large piece of wood. When a female teacher intervened, the primary boy punched the teacher, knocking her glasses off and one earring from her ear. What provoked this violence I do not know, as I arrived just after it all happened, when the language students were full of excitement and eager to tell me all about it in their broken English. The police had been called and the parents of the children involved had been asked to come to the school.
My class began and we used the incident to practise conversation. I should explain that there is no particular area set aside for these lessons and so we are a nomadic little group. Today we found ourselves working in the waiting room outside the Principal's office. Thus it was that we were there when first the police arrived and then the mother of one of the children involved. They came through our class and into the office.
The children, agog, had flapping ears and little attention. The murmur of voices from inside the office gradually grew louder and louder and LOUDER, to the point where we could not hear ourselves speak and were forced to stop the lesson. The door flew open and the mother erupted, shouting and clearly angry, and stormed out. The children whispered that she was the mother of the child who had attacked the other boy and the teacher. It was obvious that she was not in the least concerned about what the boy had done, or why and would not listen to anything said to her. At least one of the policemen had lost his temper and so they ended up yelling at each other in front of my little 12 year olds. One of them later confided that, "It was the most thrilling thing she had ever seen!"
My point is this, that such a thing happened, for whatever reason, is bad enough. That the adults could not sort it out in a manner befitting their age was worse. That it ended with one of the parents storming out and taking her offspring with her is worse still. That the row happened in front of impressionable children is unforgivable. What does all of this sorry incident teach all the children involved? The police later said they were powerless to do anything but talk to the children and their parents. If the parents would not listen, they could not make them.
I have to ask, what is to stop an incident like this happening again if there are no measures that can be taken against violent pupils, and their parents are not interested?
Thursday, 19 June 2008
Well, the island has been agog to see British Royal Fleet Auxiliary sailors on the island recently. RFA Wave Ruler has just left us after spending three days anchored at Road Bay.
Wave Ruler is a 196.5 metre long Oiler. In other words, she is a very big tanker! Her breadth is 30.4 metres and she has a draught of 13 metres, making her difficult to take into shallow waters. She went into service for the Ministry of Defence in 2002.
Her 80 RFA crew were looking for a little R&R but sadly did not get much of it.
She arrived on Sunday 15 June, Father's Day, and immediately the Captain, Duncan Lamb, and his officers hosted a buffet lunch for the Governor, His Excellency, Mr Andrew George and Mrs George, the Chief Minister, the Honourable Osbourne Fleming and other local dignitaries. We drank cocktails on the fantastic Bridge, marvelling at the vista afforded by the panoramic windows. Then we were treated to a very good buffet lunch, the galley staff having put themselves out for us.
The Waver Ruler volunteer cricket team took on a local team for a friendly match on Sunday afternoon. It was just as well it was friendly as the locals thoroughly thrashed the sailors! The final score: Sailors 93 runs from 20 overs and Locals 93 runs from 8 overs. The Locals then went on to continue batting and eventually made 240 runs.
The Captain managed a couple of hours on shore after the lunch party had left and I fear that that was all the rest time he got, as the next day saw him leading a group of officers to the Queen's Birthday Party at Government House. Resplendent in their white tropical uniforms they stood out from the colourful outfits the other guests wore. They were happy to pose for photographs with the Governor and the Chief Minister and they were unanimous in pronouncing the buffet, laid on by Mrs George, excellent. Having tasted the offerings myself, I have to say I agree with them!
Tuesday saw the crew all very busy. All day long visitors came and went; the liberty boat going as fast as it could between the ship and shore.
The Anguilla Fire Service spent the day aboard, training with fire hoses, and got very wet in the process. They seemed to enjoy the very realistic scenarios put to them. It is not often that they are called on to put out a fire on a ship and this is what they practised in all guises.
Members of the Disaster Management Committee came aboard for a tour of the emergency supplies and a briefing by the Acting Chief Officer, which one member of the Committee later commented as being 'a learning experience.' One of the roles of the ship in the Caribbean during Hurricane Season (June to end of November) is to assist in hurricane relief. RFA Wave Ruler carries a 'large pack' of emergency supplies, everything from lights and generators to a large inflatable boat capable of carrying a Land Rover.
Meanwhile there was a Navigation briefing for members of Customs, the Police Marine Unit and Immigration. They learnt about how a Replenishment at Sea (RAS) is carried out and then worked on their course plotting.
Literally the last thing the crew did before they left was to send a football team to play the National Anguilla Football Team. Composed of officers and crew with an average age in the mid forties, they were creamed by the local lithe and swift footballers. The final score was 12:1 to the Anguillians but they all kept smiling and were happy to pose together for photos afterwards.
The ship left late on Tuesday evening for Montserrat, its next port of call, leaving many new friends behind.
The Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service (RFA) is a civilian-manned fleet of 18 ships, owned by the British Ministry of Defence (MoD).
It's primary role is to supply the Royal Navy (RN) at sea with food, fuel, ammunition and spares required to maintain operations away from its home port. It also provides the RN with sea-bourne aviation training facilities and secure logistical support.
RFA Waver Ruler arrived in the Caribbean last month and will remain until December. During this time, in addition to her support of the accompanying RN frigate, she will also provide counter narcotics assistance to the US, French and Dutch authorities in the area. At each port of call her crew offer advice and assistance on a variety of matters similar to those provided in Anguilla.
Saturday, 14 June 2008
Tuesday, 10 June 2008
Cap Juluca is Anguilla's premier resort. The winner of numerous awards, from Frommers to Conde Nast, it is quite simply the place to stay in Anguilla and many would say, the Caribbean.
It was my husband, Joe's, birthday and I had no idea what to give him. Ever had that feeling? He does not need anything, so what do you give someone who has all he wishes? I cast about and thought of Cap Juluca.
We have lived on Anguilla for more than three years and in all that time my husband and I have only visited there once, for a cocktail with some friends. It is lovely, set in idyllic surroundings on Maundays Bay.
So I called the hotel and booked a suite with a pool. I was expecting something less than we got!
Palatial was not the word. It was exquisite. The completely private swimming pool where you could relax, serene in the knowledge that you were not overlooked and no one could disturb you. The huge marble bathroom and four poster bed in the elegant bedroom were to die for. The balcony that took the suite out into the open air, its folding doors allowing the gentle swish of the waves, mere feet away, to lull us off to sleep at night. The living room had a panoramic vista which took in the bay and the hills of neighbouring island, St Martin, just a few miles away.
It is true that the kitchen, fully equipped with everything you could want and more, was the home to many friendly ants but we did not do a lot of cooking while there, confining ourselves to making coffee, so we all lived in perfect harmony.
The staff were pleasant and friendly. It was a bit of a job to pre-order a birthday cake but I managed it and it arrived on time, which was great. What was very nice, and totally unexpected, was the bottle of champagne, chocolates and dried fruit sent by the management. We had arrived on my husband's birthday and, although the accompanying card was to me not him, we understood the sentiment behind the gifts and were truly touched.
In all, we stayed for two nights, were joined by friends Julie and Rob to celebrate Joe's birthday and Julie's the next day, and we had a wonderful, relaxing time. We had both got into a rut, worked too hard and too long, and forgotten how to play. We had a weekend of luxury and fun. It was great and I thank the management and staff of Cap Juluca for a truly marvellous experience.
Today saw me practising mouth to mouth, mouth to pocket mask and mouth to nose resuscitation on Dougy, the owner of Special D Divers, the dive company I learn with. He and I now know each other a lot better than we did! Dougy's boat captain, known as Punky, videoed some of our session and has threatened to put the video on You-Tube! Haha!
As usual, Rob, my instructor, was a soul of patience but I do not think he quite understands me (saying that, does any man understand a woman? Hemmmmm.... I am digressing, so back to the story). My way of working through things I am not sure of, have little confidence in my ability to do or I am just plain apprehensive of, is to talk through them. I work them through aloud and hope other people understand that this is my way of coping with a problem. Rob reckons I am 'blustering' when I do this. Oh dear. Oh well, he was very patient with me when I could not get my lefts and rights correct with compass drills and when I managed to do the expanding square search for a missing diver, he was really pleased for me (and more than a little relieved too I am sure!). Thank you Rob for bearing with me. It is appreciated.
Dougy deserves an 'Oscar' for his performance as a diver in distress. So far, he has been a tired diver, had cramp, been panicked, been found 'unconscious' on the bottom and been 'rescued,' had me lug him up on the deck of a boat and up on to the beach (and put up with me dropping him on the sand when I lost my footing!) and has not broken his act once. Even when I nearly drowned him trying out some of the manoeuvres, he took it well!
I think Rob and Dougy make a really good team. They have not trained too many rescue divers and so I am a bit of a novelty. Saying that, Rob is a stickler for doing things properly and I have had to do things over and again to get them just so, but we have all enjoyed ourselves while going through the course. Punky too has joined in, something I was not anticipating. I have learnt that there is much more to a dive operation than just turning up and going out on a boat to a pretty stretch of reef, popping into the water and looking about. It has given me new insight into how these professionals think and with it, a new respect for them.
Monday, 9 June 2008
Some of you may remember that I qualified as a scuba diver at the ripe old age of 43. It was something that did not come easily to me and, to be honest, it came down to a case of not allowing something to beat me. I qualified but I did not really enjoy the sport.
Then I did my first dive as a qualified diver and I fell in love!
Yes, I dived on Anguillita, just off Anguilla's western tip, and found a world of teeming marine life from rays to sharks, beautiful blue chromis to speckly eels and I was hooked forever more.
Since then, I have braved the depths at night to go night diving on the wreck of the Cathley H in the pitch black and have found my way around with a compass whilst trying to navigate my way about. I took and passed the Advanced Course and found I was really enjoying myself.
What next? I thought about it for about ten seconds. The decision was easy. Master Scuba Diver. That is what I wanted and I knew that it would not be easy.
To reach this ultimate qualification for an amateur diver, you have to take 5 speciality courses, have taken the Open Water, Advanced and Rescue Diver Courses and have taken a first aid qualification. You also have to have dived a minimum of 50 dives to take the Rescue Diver Course, considered one of the toughest amateur dive courses.
So, I knew I was letting myself in for a bit of work!
So far, I have taken the Underwater Naturalist and Underwater Photography Speciality Courses and the St John Ambulance of Canada First Response First Aid Course. Now I am working on the Rescue Diver Course.
Today I took the examination. I was not confident about this; who is when they sit a test like this? 50 multiple choice questions about all kinds of things from the emergency use of oxygen to the various tows to use, from techniques to rescue panicked and tired divers to throwing flotation aids. All kinds of things to learn and remember. I had been studying for ages and had a dvd to watch and learn from too. In the end, I need not have worried as some of the knowledge rubbed off and I passed. I was very pleased with myself as I really did not know if enough had sunk in for me to get through.
Then it was off to the water and a whole barrage of practises, from how to approach a panicked diver, how to fight off a panicked diver (I got well and truly ducked, repeatedly!), how to assist a tired diver, how to throw a flotation aid (have you ever had to throw one? It is harder than it looks!), how to get people on to a dive boat, how to carry them ashore and a whole host of other things, all in shallow, calm water.
Tomorrow I will be doing more; going deeper and rescuing divers from the bottom in a whole host of scenarios. All of which is to prepare me for the final phase of this demanding course, the four open water rescue scenarios on Thursday which will be realistic and will, I really hope, qualify me as a PADI Rescue Diver.
For now, I am pleased to have passed the exam and to have got through today. I did not drown nor did I allow any one else to do so. As this had been on my mind, I am pleased to be able to say this! In fact, if truth be told, yes it was hard, I need to know the theory and be able to apply it practically, but it was intense fun. Already I feel more confident in the water.
I have homework to do this evening and then tomorrow I will be off again, hopefully taking another step towards my goal; the Rescue Diver Course and then, Master Scuba Diver.
Wish me luck!
Sunday, 1 June 2008
Thursday, 22 May 2008
The photos show: from top to bottom - Temenos and CuisinArt battle it out, Glen Schroeder, Hearts Desire and Mike Syme, crew aboard Hearts Desire.
Saturday, 17 May 2008
This morning I opened my email to find the following message:
"penny, i think i have made a bo,bo. i am so sorry, i think i have clicked on a wrong button. i was looking on your blog site, when i saw a button that said FLAG or UNFLAG BUTTON.not knowing what it was, i clicked on it. i was horrified when i saw that i was reporting you for bad reading content. sorry."
I have never been reported for bad content before and did not expect my mother to be the one doing it! I hope that whoever investigates this will see that all is well and it is just an elderly lady trying to get to grips with modern technology. I have now emailed her with instructions on how to use the cursor to hover over buttons she does not recognise, so that the resulting dialogue box will appear and tell her what the button is for. Next I must teach her how to put capitals into her emails properly!
Thursday, 8 May 2008
Tonight is the Skippers Briefing for the Anguilla Regatta, which starts tomorrow and lasts all weekend. At 6pm Roy's Bayside Grill will be packed with sailors for the briefing and it will be the beginning of a busy time for me.
I will be on the press boat Friday 9 May, to report on the races and will cover the prize giving by HE The Governor, Mr Andrew George.
Saturday 10 May will see me taking part in a race - my first! I feel a quiet mix of apprehension and excitement at present and I still have two days to go! On Saturday too the Battle of the Banks will be fought. The 12 metre ex-America's Cup racers will provide thrills and much competitive spirit in the best tradition of sailing. It will be spectacular to watch.
Sunday 11 May, the final day of the Regatta, the local wooden racing boats fight it out in the Sir Bobby Velasquez Local Boat Race. These boats, without internal ballast and decking, fly through the water and are really fun to watch. Regulations go out of the window apart from the 'Hard Lee' rule, when, to avoid a collision, a captain will give this cry and each boat must tack away, regardless of where this will put the boat! It leads to fun and excitement, particularly when the rocks, sand bags or crew used for ballast is jettisoned to lighten the boat in an effort to reach the finishing line first!
In all the Anguilla Regatta, an annual event since 2003 to raise much needed funds for the Anguilla Youth Sailing Club, and run by the Anguilla Sailing Association in conjunction with the Anguilla Tourist Board, will be a weekend of fun for all the family.
I will let you know how I get on in my race - I will be aboard the Juluca, owned and skippered by Steve Donaghue. Wish us luck!
Sunday, 4 May 2008
Tonight I slept for about two hours and then, PING, eyes wide open and mind racing away uncontrollably!
I am never one to miss an opportunity and so I have been catching up with my emails. People who must have thought I had died will be shocked to see they have a message from me when they wake up in the morning!
I have deleted some obvious rubbish from my inbox and generally given it a tidy up. I feel quite pleased with myself. Of course, all this will generate replies from my long lost friends and so my inbox will soon fill up again! In the long run I will have gained nothing, but at least people know I am still about.
Of course I am taking the opportunity to write my blog while I have time, which is always a bonus. The coming week will be a busy one as the Anguilla Regatta is on the horizon next weekend and I am covering it for several publications. For those interested in this event there is more information on the Anguilla Sailing Association website, http://www.anguillaregatta.com/
OK, I have a tired brain so that is all for this post.
Friday, 2 May 2008
My friend, Rob, in Spain, emailed to say that following my advising him to start a blogsite, he has been offered a regular blogging job on http://www.thexpat.com/blog/category/rob-innis/ which gets over twenty thousand hits a day! I am so pleased for him.
Rob's blogsite is http://robinespana.blogspot.com/ It is a very good read!
Sunday, 27 April 2008
Wednesday, 2 April 2008
In the meantime we are looking forward to popping home to see the folks in England. It was November when I was last in the UK and July when Joe was last there. We have things to do and people to see.
On April 12th I am graduating from the Open University, having finally finished my Humanities degree. I cannot find my best suit, which is a bit of a pain to say the least. There is not much call for suits here on Anguilla and I can honestly say that in the last three years I have used it a handful of times. Now I need it, I have no idea where I have put it. This means that I will have to go out and seek a new suit as a matter of urgency when I arrive in Blighty. I had not intended shopping so soon in the trip! Oh well, I have to look on the bright side, I will take my mother with me and that will be some quality time with her!
We are going to visit our friend Susan after this. She lives in the North of England and recently retired. She is coming to terms with life in a much slower lane than she has been used to. Personally I am dreading this, from full ahead to almost stop because of a birthday. Some people long to retire and others look forward to it as a necessary evil. It will be interesting to see how she is coping.
To get ready for this trip we have both had to adjust our schedules. It is the end of the UK financial year and the beginning of a new one which means that end of year accounts need to be balanced and reports sent to London. My poor husband has had to work like a Trojan to get things up to date at his office before we leave. He could have done without the OU graduation date so close to the end of the financial year.
I am just coming to the end of a very busy period of magazine commissions and the ACOCI Connection newsletter. Work is starting to tail off now as the trip is coming closer but will start again immediately afterwards, with interviews of several local persons of interest on Anguilla for two different publications. Life as a freelance writer is never static and new opportunities always need to be grabbed with both hands when they are presented. I will be using aspects of the UK trip as the basis for several articles for British magazines.
I just hope we do not freeze while we are there as the weather has been awful. At least here, when the weather is bad, it is still warm!