My mate Jonathan!

‘It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop’

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One of the most impressive buildings on Saint Helena is Plantation House. The building was built back in the 1700’s as a place to stay for the Governor and now our current Governor Lisa Phillips stays there with her dog, Dusty! The house is surrounded by huge, very well kept gardens and Plantation Forest, where mummy, daddy and I like to go walking. On the way to Plantation Forest, we always stop to say hello to my mate Jonathan and the other tortoises that live on Plantation House grounds. The celebrity of Saint Helena!

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Jonathan the tortoise is a well loved member of Saint Helena Island. At 184 years old, he is not only the oldest tortoise on Saint Helena, but the oldest tortoise in the world! He was brought over to Saint Helena from the Seychelles in 1882 when he was 50 years oldIMG_1464IMG_1467

Big burps!

I love going to see Jonathan and the tortoises. The other weekend, I was very lucky to be invited to the Governor’s house to meet Jonathan close up. He was like a wrinkled dinosaur! Whilst the Governor, Lisa, fed him a very special diet of fresh lettuce leaves (the other tortoises eat plain grass), I touched his rock hard shell, making sure I avoided his mouth in case he nibbled my fingers. It made me giggle when he let out a huge burp! Signs of a satisfied tortoise I think!

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Camping fun!

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When I lived in the UK, I went  camping a few times and I loved it! We visited Robin Hood’s bay with Granny Fiona and Grandpa, caravanning with the Anwyl bunch and we also took a trip to Shell Island with my friend Isaac. My experience of camping there was hiding from the rain in a two man tent or, more luxuriously, in my Granny and Grandpa’s motor home. Despite the odd rain shower and colder climate, camping was one of my favourite things to do! So when our friend’s Nicholas and Julie invited us over to camp at Blue Hill we jumped at the chance.

Camping is a big tradition on St Helena, especially on (usually very wet) Easter weekends, where families gather with their tents, sleeping bags and stoves up at the areas called Horse Pasture or Thompson’s Hill. During the weekend, they have bbq’s and a big fish fry with fish that they caught themselves on Maundy Thursday. At Easter, we went to visit the camping at Horse Pasture and we tried so many different fish that we had never tried before-bullseye, grouper and even conger eel! We were well and truly stuffed after that!

During our second experience of camping on St Helena, we arrived at the camp to welcoming, glorious sunshine and tea and cakes (including the St Helenian coconut cake and pumpkin pie. Yum!). As soon as I leapt out of the car, I was straight on the slides and swings with my new friends. I did stop for a little nibble of crackers and traditional St Helenian tomato paste too.

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The camping at Blue Hill was different to the camping I’m used to as we were all staying in an old building which used to be Blue Hill school. There is still a blackboard up on the wall-we used this to write down our drink choices! As usual, our camping buddies were well prepared with blow up beds and sleeping bags on either side of the room.  When the sun went down, it got darker and a little chillier, so after a game of catch and bouncing on the beds with my friend Kordell, I snuggled down into bed. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was asleep. Must be all that fresh air!

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IMG_1420Some camp entertainment….

After a pretty loud night of snoring (I think daddy may have been the loudest), I woke up to eggs, bacon, beans and fried yam all cooked in the good old outdoors. Yum! The rest of the day was spent lazing in the sun, munching on snacks and generally having a pretty chilled out day! We were “breezing off” as the Saints would say. I could get used to camping on St Helena!

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A bit of breezing off!

 

 

School on St Helena

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My classroom!

I love school on St Helena.  Every day from nine till twelve I happily attend St Paul’s Primary School in the district of St Pauls. On some mornings, even though I’m only four years old, I catch the bus with other boys and girls. This is pretty fun and something I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to do in the UK.  After reading a little story with mummy,  I get on the bus for a short journey to school and spend some time playing with my friends before the bell rings at nine.

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The morning is spent building towers, painting, making models with play dough and enjoying my snack (which my mummy gives me every morning).  Schools here are quite similar to schools in the UK as they follow the same curriculum (so mummy tells me).

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My teachers!

My teachers are called Mrs Fowler and Miss Henry and they are very kind teachers. The other week they even organised a superhero day on which my mummy was allowed to come in and play with me.  We had to dress up as a superhero and I decided that my hero was Tinkerbell! So amongst the Batmen, Supermen and Spidermen, there was me in my pretty Tinkerbell dress! During the morning, my mummy and I had the chance to play in the doctor’s surgery, the construction area, the creative area and write a few letters at the writing table. I had a great day!

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Princess and Tinkerbell on Superhero day

Over the last year, I have taken part in so many events at St Paul’s Primary School. Parades at Christmas time, watching the older children in (a very competitive) sports day, studying insects on St Helena, watching the aeroplane land on the Island, Assemblies in which I have sang to a big audience of children and most importantly, going on a boat trip with all my lovely friends.

Mummy has told me it will be my last half term at St Paul’s Primary School as we have booked our boat and aeroplane back to England. I  will miss my school on St Helena and all the teachers and friends that I have made there!

Boat trips, fishing and dolphin watching…..life by the sea :)

As all of you Northern hemisphere folk are entering the Summer months with longer, brighter days  and milder weather (you hope!),  here on St Helena we are approaching the Winter. During the months of June, July and August, the days become a little shorter and the nights become a little chillier. Don’t get me wrong though, there will be no woolly hats or building snowmen here. This is a sub tropical island so there is never any snow. Where we live in Half Tree Hollow, we are still experiencing lovely, warm days, but out at St Paul’s in the country (where I go to school), I now need a cardigan. Brrr!

During the summer here, it was refreshing to take a dip in the pool or the sea as it was so hot, but now that the water is getting a little cooler, jumping in can give me quite a shock! So, over the last few weeks, we have made sure we have fitted in a few boat trips where we have taken some fun dips in the sea.

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Recently, I’ve been lucky enough to go on some dolphin trips. One of which was on a trip with my class. Pretty impressive huh? A school trip to search for dolphins!

Dolphins are my favourite and my best. That is definitely what Lola would say (From the Charlie and Lola books).They are my favourite and my best because they are one of the friendliest creatures in the sea. Graceful, adventurous and highly intelligent, these sea creatures can live up to the age of 40 years old!

Whilst on these dolphin trips, we saw dozens of dolphins leaping through the sea. As we glided on the boat through the calm waters that day, we suddenly saw a beautiful dolphin dive out of the water, then two, then three, then  they were everywhere. They were completely surrounding the boat. Mummy was so busy trying to take pictures of them (then only getting a picture of the blue sea!!) that I’m sure she missed half of the event. The dolphins looked like they were trying to lead us somewhere….I’m pretty sure they were leading us to the crystal clear water in the cove where I did some swimming (with my brand new Minnie Mouse armbands!)

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As well as scouring the ocean for dolphins and flying fish, swimming in clear blue waters and drinking cider on a boat (not me-mummy and daddy!!), daddy had a go at spear fishing. Whilst my friend Arlo’s daddy caught dozens of bullseye, daddy had no such luck. He didn’t even catch one! I think the fish were too quick for him!

One of my favourite photos from St Helena is one of mummy, daddy and I looking all relaxed whilst sitting on a boat at sunset (see the photo below). This photo will help us to remember the wonderful year we have (nearly) had on St Helena. Calm, relaxed and remembering the importance of life…spending time with family and stopping to smell the flowers !

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But before I go, here is a little bit of advice from a dolphin…..

Be playful…

Be curious…

Find someone you really click with….

Glide through the day with no worries…..

Find your life’s porpoise….

Leap for joy!

 

 

I’m off to see the fairies…

‘Every child must remember laying his head in the grass, staring into the infinitesimal forest and see it growing populous with fairies.’ (Robert Louis Stevenson)

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And while I laid there, in the long, long grass it tickled me and tickled me and I wondered….is it the grass tickling me or is it one of the sparkling, magical fairies of fairyland making me giggle…..

There’s a sign in St Helena which quite simply says ‘Fairyland’. This sign points in the direction of a long winding path surrounded by windblown flax leaves and a magnificent v

iew of green green green. If you follow the path that leads down and down and down…..eventually you will arrive at a quaint little place called Peak Dale farm.

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I’m wearing my fairy t-shirt!

One way to explore the wonders of St Helena is to walk and that we did. In the sun, in the rain and for quite a few kilometres (with the help of a lift in a truck-thanks Carla and Marco!). It started with deep puddles of squelchy mud…

“We’re going on a fairy hunt. We’re going to catch a beautiful one. We’re not scared.”

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I definitely wasn’t scared, I was excited. Would I finally see a fairy? I’ve been told that fairies live at the bottom of the garden so I looked up high at the looming trees, down at the deep puddles and across at the old flax mill.

Years and years ago, New Zealand Flax (a long, green and thick leaf) was introduced to the island so that it could be made into ropes, mailbags and many other things for exporting to other countries.  Even though the mills around the island are now closed, flax is still a popular leaf to use for table mats, flower decorations and even handbags and hats! Some very clever ladies on this island are very good at making things out of flax, although mummy is still practising…….

If you want to find out more about the industry of flax leaves, take a look at this link….. http://sainthelenaisland.info/flax.htm

So anyway, back to the walk… as I said before, after a few miles of walking, we heard a truck coming along behind us and in it was my friend Eliza and her mummy and daddy (as well as her cousins Ashlin and Dylan). We hitched a lift and they took us along to their Peak Dale farm and quite a wonder it is! There were chickens and sheep and views of all the island. Bravely, my friend Eliza held a chicken and chick and I helped her feed the chickens with the corn. It was great to explore her little farm.

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As drops of rain started to plop on my head though, mummy, daddy and I decided to plod on. It can’t be that much longer? Right?

It was.

And it was uphill.

And it was in the rain. It wasn’t ‘spitting’ (as Peter Kay would describe it), it was full on, pour a bucket on your head, chucking it down. So there’s us, typical Brits, in our waterproofs, struggling up a hill with large branches on mummy’s back (for the bbq) and a hello kitty bag. I had given up at that point too, so daddy ended up lugging me up the hill. When we eventually got to the road, I’m sure the people passing must have had a right laugh at us. We were like drowned rats. Gosh, when it rains here. IT RAINS!

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Exhausted, wet, but happy….

So at the end of this extract, I would love to tell you that we found the fairies, but unfortunately we didn’t. I’m pretty sure I heard them though and I’m pretty sure I was sprinkled in fairy dust that day….

‘A rustle in the wind reminds us a fairy is near.’ (Anon)

Living in the outdoors!

“I feel like a kid from the 80s. I’ve got no signal and I’m holding a stick!”

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One of my favourite places on St Helena is a little forest park in an area called Blue Hill. It takes around half an hour in the car to get from our house in Half Tree Hollow to Blue Hill. On the way, we go from passing dry ground, cactuses and a hot climate to more lush, green trees and fields and on occasions, a little bit of rain. It is a welcome relief to escape to the coolness of Blue Hill and it reminds me of warm (ish) Summer days in Britain.

Down at Blue Hill park, I love playing on the slides and swings, but most of all I enjoy playing in the forest.  The other day, mummy, daddy and I got our creative outdoor heads on and decided to build a den. I think that every little kid needs the opportunity to build a den-a den made of cushions and blankets, a den made of rocks and stones or in our case a den made of twigs and sticks. We scoured the forest for twigs and sticks of different sizes and spent some time balancing them to create a pretty cool den. I’m not quite sure it will keep the rain out, but overall It’s a great place to go and hide in!

As well as building dens, I’ve also got pretty good at planting trees at Millennium Forest. Every school holiday and some weekends, armed with welly boots and a sun hat, I have been heading over to this forest near Longwood. The forest opened on August 2000, hence its name ‘Millennium Forest’. The forest is filled with a variety of endemic plants, including the Gumwood, which I have planted quite a few of. Enough to even receive a certificate to say a tree has been planted in my name! I may go and visit my tree in years to come to see how tall it has grown. It might be taller than me!

Lots of other people go and plant trees up at Millennium Forest and I have read (I’m lying-I can’t quite read yet-mummy has read) that over 10,000 trees have been planted since the year 2000 so this large 38 hectare (and more!) forest is growing bigger and bigger.

Into the deep…..

‘For ocean, whale is a small fish; for wise man, small fish is an ocean’

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Whale sharks are the largest living fish on the planet and can grow to a massive 12 metres so swimming with them a no, no. Right?? Not for us.

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A little windswept (before the sea sickness)

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Ready with our life jackets, costumes, snorkels and masks we decided to brave the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and the hundreds of creatures that live in there. Including the large mouthed, spotty whale sharks.  Around the months of January and February, the Whale sharks come to visit the waters around St Helena as they love the warmer tropical waters. Right now, the weather is warm (over 30 degrees) and the sea is warm so the perfect climate for whale sharks who come to search for plankton (luckily they aren’t interested in eating me!!!!)

Terrifying, nerve-wracking, overwhelming. These are the words that come to mind when, with my life jacket and goggles, I got in the water with my mummy and daddy whilst a gigantic Whale Shark swam underneath me. I know my mummy and daddy spotted the huge beast with its leopard like patterns and I know they’re hearts were in their mouths! So me, with my little three year old legs kicking away, was literally a few metres away from the biggest fish on the planet. Impressive!

This is the Whale Shark we swam with!

After the craziness of the swim in the Ocean with a massive fish, I was salty, tired and wet so the day ended with a dip in the pool and a massive Saint Helenian feast

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It’s like being on holiday!

Christmas on St Helena.

We are now in January and I’m still recovering from the busy Christmas period. I have to say, it was a very different Christmas to what mummy, daddy and I are used to. Instead of snow, we had sun. Instead of Carol singing in caves, there was carol singing on a boat and instead of traditional turkey dinners, there were bbq’s and beaches.

The Christmas build up kicked off with my school performance at St Paul’s cathedral where I sang like an angel (not sure mummy and daddy were convinced that I acted like an angel though!!). My performance of baby Jesus was flawless and I’m sure granny and grandpa used the words, ” A star is born,” when they saw the video of me singing and dancing confidently in front of about a hundred people!!

On St Helena, parades down the Main Street in Jamestown are a very popular tradition and this year, I was involved. After mummy helped decorate the nursery’s truck, that truck, along with the other decorated trucks from St Paul’s school, came  down the road in a convoy as Christmas music played. Children and adult’s danced in Santa hats and people admired the decorated trucks. There were giant snowmen, huge Christmas minions and plenty of tinsel. St Helena likes their tinsel and I do too!

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During the other Christmas parade, I was the spectator. After a long wait, I finally got to see the famous ‘parade of lights’. This was organised by another primary school on the island, Pilling Primary school. This was quite a spectacle. Beautifully decorated trucks, lit up with different coloured fairy lights and a Chinese dragon swaying down the street. By the end of the ‘light filled’ night, I was ready to go home and get ready for Santa.

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Like in the UK, mummy and daddy kept up the tradition of mince pies and milk for Santa (and a carrot for Rudolph) and I made sure to tell him that instead of travelling to Stalybridge this year, he needed to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to visit me in St Helena.

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Opening my presents!

On Christmas day, after the excitement of opening up my presents, I was ready to enjoy a festive bbq with my mates Myles, Arlo and Peter.

Oh and I nearly forgot! Last week, I took to the stage again as a little fairy in the island’s pantomime, Cinderella. Do you like my outfit??!!IMG_0602

I almost touched the sky!

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Last weekend, our ‘living on the edge’ was not quite done (see the extract-living on the edge below). Rather than driving down precarious cliffs, we decided to walk up one. We went on another of the Post Box walks and headed over to ‘High Hill’. The name is very appropriate. The walk started off leisurely, down a little dirt track surrounded by lovely looking flowers and shaded by looming trees. Following this, we hiked up a slight incline where we collected pine cones ready to be decorated for Christmas. But as we got higher, things got a little bit more frightening and the path got a little bit more narrower. Narrow to the point that one slip and we were gonners.

Daddy clung to my hand as we went steeper and steeper, staring at the huge drop right next to us. At one point mummy was crawling on all fours whilst humming the Last of the Mohicans theme tune (see the link-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pCv7k_Hzvg).

“I don’t like heights!” mummy would shout on occasions, but we still kept going upwards (we did think it would get a little less scary, but it just got more scary!).

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Playing a bit of baseball on top of the hill!

 

 

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Don’t be fooled by the smile!

We did eventually get to the top of the hill, got our stamp, had our picnic then slowly ‘slid’ on our bums for most of the way down the hill. The fact that it was such a terrifying experience, made finishing the walk much more satisfying. I was exhausted though as you can see!

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“I don’t want to walk anymore! Carry me!”

Living on the edge (of a steep cliff)

“It’s OKAY to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.” 

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The last two weeks have been filled with adventures that have left us (my mummy!) quaking in our boots. I am a very brave little girl, however our recent trips to Sandy Bay and up High Hill were definitely not for the faint hearted.

As the weather has been warming up for the summer season, we thought it would be a good idea to head down to the beach. Last weekend, mummy, daddy and I headed out in the car to Sandy Bay which is situated on the opposite side of the island from where we live. The name Sandy Bay sounds so appealing so we expected a leisurely drive along tranquil country roads which would take us to a luxurious golden sandy beach. However, the experience was NOT quite like that. Daddy was driving. Daddy thinks he is an amazing driver-I’m sure he actually once described himself as the next famous formula one driver. Possibly not.

Getting there was scary.  Daddy’s confidence wilted, as he drove us down the steepest roads we have ever seen. As I sat peering out of the windows in the back seat, I swore at one point we were almost vertical as we stared down to the rocky cliffs below. The dramatic bends in the road wound round to the point we were almost driving off the cliff. We have seen some steep and bendy roads in St Helena, but the road down to Sandy Bay was by far the worst.

“We need to go back!” mummy kept shouting as daddy, feeling determined (stubborn!), continued along the treacherous roads. We did finally get to the beach. The beach was surrounded by barren mountains and the extinct South Western volcano and quite scarily, was occupied by Portuguese men of war, a jellyfish type sea creature, who can cause a very sore sting!

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“Look how big these mountains are!”

“I feel like I’m on Mars,” daddy told us, as the mountains looked so red and rugged with very little vegetation. I could have been one of those Aliens who love Underpants (I like that book!)taking a trip to Mars! I’ve always wanted to visit another planet and on this day, I felt like I could have been on one.