Monday, 21 January 2013

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...

You'd think, living on a little island surrounded by 1000 miles or more of ocean in each direction, that I'd feel quite connected to the sea. But St Helena doesn't conform to any norm or expectation. At home in Northumberland, our house looks over the mouth of the river and there are several beautiful beaches within a few miles and I watch the tide and the waves. But St Helena doesn't really do beaches.

There is Sandy Bay, but the story is that every Saint knows someone who was drowned there because the undertow is so strong. The sand there is black and the arid volcanic cliffs can be a little menacing if you are in the frame of mind to let them be so.

Jamestown has an area which is actually named The Seaside. It is a sea wall with boulders at the bottom, overlooked by a car park, the swimming pool and a couple of cafes and bars. It is extremely pleasant, and amusing to watch the car owners dodging the splashing waves if the tide has come up since they parked. But it is definitely part of the town and really not a beach. It is not even a harbour. It is in the lea of the island so provides some shelter, but to get on and off a boat requires a leap, both of the legs and of faith, while the boatman battles the waves with the throttle wide open and two hefty chaps hanging onto ropes in the wharf, while a third helps/catches you.

On Saturday we leapt. We leapt into a little boat that took us along the coast to Lemon Valley (where there are no lemons) and to the rocky pebbled beach there. An inflatable speed boat thingy transferred us, a few at a time, to a landing stage. The waves here in the middle of the Ocean come in fives (although some say sevens). Five humongous crashing ones, then five smaller lapping ones. The trick was to wait for the smaller ones and then take that leap. Kids were thrown bodily up to waiting adults as were charcoal, cool boxes, chairs, swim stuff...

We barbecued then explored. Some up the valley or round the cliffs, the kids made quick work of the derelict buildings and then we attempted the beach. Gradually our confidence grew and soon Tall Girl, two of her friends and two of us Mums were giggling and screaming with joy as the waves crashed over our legs, soaking our clothes and stinging our eyes. We groaned through the small waves and grinned at the huge ones. It was completely wonderful to find the sea after so many weeks living in the middle of it.

We hunted through the pebbles for treasure and found some beauties: shells and coral, and what has to be a piece of Napoleon's favourite mug.

All to soon it was time to leap the other way. But we'll be back to leap again another day.


  1. What great finds! The thought of you all leaping into boats to get to play by the sea will make me value my easy nearby seaside trips just that little bit more!! Have a lovely week :-)

  2. And I get excited over a bit of sea glass! Lovely finds! :) x