Life on the most remote inhabited island in the world

Change blowing in the wind

September has been a month of change, and bad weather, with the arrival of the new Admin, departure of Mike and Janice and wind that just doesn’t stop blowing!

The new Administrator, David Morley, arrived with his wife Jacki on the Agulhus on the 12 September.  They were lucky enough to be welcomed by sunshine and calm seas, with the island looking its very best with blue skies and sun kissed mountain tops.  This was a brief break in weather which has buffeted and pummelled the island from all directions for the last few weeks and which currently shows no sign of letting up.  Snow on the peak is a regular for winter, but snow half way down the base is something that no one here can remember happening before.  While making a stunning backdrop to your day, it has meant that the winds coming down off the base have been chilly.  Currently also being without a vehicle, Erik and I have taken to staying in as much as possible as the thought of taking Caitlin out in this weather it just too much to contemplate.  There are days, such as today, when the wind is strong enough to make walking difficult, even with a pram, and combined with incessant rain… 

snow-1.JPG  aghullus-at-anchor.JPG

The arrival of David and Jacki meant we had to say good bye to Mike and Janice, who have been steadfast friends and supporters for the last two years.  Mike is on his way home to England to begin a life of retirement and leisure and has started this off with a three week hiking visit to Gough island.  Janice, more sensibly, has opted to go with, but to remain indoors, taking advantage of the chance to read and contemplate life, without the responsibilities of housework or cooking.  It is hard to contemplate what life is going to be like without them here and I have already started on Erik, insisting that we must go and visit them next year when we go and see our older kids in Europe.

A bright spot in this month has been the installation of a new kitchen in the factory house.  The original kitchen (read sink and three cupboards) was installed when the house was first built in the 1970’s and while a table and small cupboard have been added over the years; the amount of cupboard space available has been minimal.  When I first arrived on the island, and began changing the whole house around, we used a bookshelf for the crockery and glasses and I began nagging for kitchen cupboards.  Finally, my nagging paid off and last week I had the pleasure of seeing two new two door cupboards installed, along with a grocery cupboard.  Increased cupboard space and work space in one go!  We’ve also had shelves installed in the spare room and this has meant that I can finally put away some of the boxes that have been sitting in the room, gathering dust since Erik’s arrival in 2005.  I know that these, seemingly small changes are most likely insignificant in the normal scheme of things, but when you are 7 days away from the nearest hardware store, they take on a significance which is hard to describe unless you’ve experienced it yourself.

The rock hoppers are starting to come ashore for their annual malting and Erik managed to get some great pictures of one particularly fine rock hopper with all his plumage.  He is magnificent to behold and we are lucky to be able to see this a short walk from our house.  Rockhopper

Also, the calves on the island have discovered that our garden is a good place to come for grazing and we have between one and three of them at any one time in our garden, mowing the lawn.  Only on Tristan….

Caitlin, who is now almost 9 months old, has started crawling in the last week – she is now pretty good and manages to crawl around most of the house, trailing behind me as I go about my daily work. She’s also started ‘speaking’ and has a repertoire of three whole words – hello, da da and ba ba. She’s now trying to pull herself up into a standing position using the furniture or more usually, my leg, but hasn’t quite mastered that yet and falls over more than she succeeds. She’s a joy though and I’m still gob smacked when I think this precious little thing is my child. Everyone here just loves her, which isn’t hard to do as she is almost always smiling and happy – I’m certain she doesn’t get this from me, so can only guess it comes from Erik.

We have had parties and christenings and receptions galore since the Agulhus arrived and have enjoyed the social occasions immensely.  It’s fun to go to functions and know more and more people and feel more and more like we are at home.  The journey back to Cape Town next year is one I’m not sure I want to undertake and we are becoming more settled in our little corner of the south Atlantic.

The Kelso arrives either Thursday or Friday and we will be welcoming an old friend back to Tristan.  Erica was here in 2005 for six months doing a study on the rat population on the island, and will be coming back to do some work on Inaccessible island over the next couple of months.  It is always good to see old friends!

This is a small update on what we’ve been doing – I will try to be more disciplined about writing this blog, and am hoping my “newly organised life” will allow this to become a reality.

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Comments on: "Change blowing in the wind" (6)

  1. I enjoy reading your accounts on Tristan Da Cunha very much, and look forward to more!

    Thanks,

    Pete
    Colorado, USA

  2. I also enjoyed reading your notes,also nice pictures.
    do you know the name of the ship on the one photoand did it stop.
    is the yatch a visiting yatch or an island boat
    glad to har your daughter is doing well,cherish every moment.
    regards ray

  3. Thanks Pete and Ray – it’s always good to know we are providing some entertainment value.
    Ray, the ship on the photograph is called the Agulhus and she was originally a South African naval supply vessel. She is now privately operated, but does supply trips to the Antarctic, Gough island and a few other places. I’m assuming this is the ship you were referring to?
    We don’t have any ‘resident’ yachts on the island as the islanders use what they call longboats which have a shallower hull and are easier to land on the beach because they don’t have a keel. Sadly, the tradition of using the longboats seems to be dying out a little – the boats aren’t used nearly as often as they used to be.
    Best wishes from Tristan
    Claire

  4. HI BEUTIFUL ARTICEL
    DAN

  5. THANKS CLAIRE
    I HAVE BEEN INTERESTED IN TRISTAN SINCE 1963 AND HAVE A LARGE COLLECTION OF TRISTAN STAMPS POSTAL HISTORY .PHOTOGRAPHS,BOOKS AND VIDIO’S FROM AND OF THE ISLAND. I HAVE NEVER BEEN BUT WOULD LOVE TO ONE DAY.
    I AM AT PRESENT TRYING TO PUT ALL MY VIDEO’S ON DVD SOME ARE POOR QUALITY BEING 8 mm CINE FILM.
    nICE TO SEE THAT THERE IS A NEW PERSON IN CHARGE AT THE POST OFFICE AS THE FEELING IN THE UK IS THAT THE SERVICE HAS BEEN GOING DOWN HILL AND IT IS A GOOD REVENUE EARNER FOR THE ISLAND,
    tHANKS FOR THE INFO ON THE YATCH ETC. I AM PARTICULARLY INTERESTED IN SHIP VISITS AS I TRY TO COLLECT COVERS POSTED ON THEM.
    I WAS ALSO PLEASED TO RECEIVE A COVER SIGNED BY THE NEW ADMIN AND THE VISITING BISHOP OF SOUTH AFRICA,

    IT WAS ALSO WITH REGRET THAT WE HEARD OF THE MURDER OF THE SAILOR ON THE AGULHAS ,LIFE SEEMS NOT PRECIOUS THESE DAYS. HOPE THE FAMILY ARE OK.
    KIND REGARDS RAY

  6. Loving your accounts of life on Tristan.

    It’s a long held dream of mine to visit Antarctica and Tristan da Cunha. Maybe one day…..

    Enjoy and please keep up the blog!

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