My St Helena Roadtrip

I live in Jamestown – the capital of St Helena. One of the many joys of living in Jamestown (probably a blog post in it’s own right) is that everything is within a steady 10-minute walk of everything else. It’s brilliant. No traffic jams, no awful commuting and no packed busses or overpriced trains. As such, it made little sense for me to buy a car. The trade-off of course is that I lose the ability to travel and explore the rest of this beautiful island at will and at my own pace. I certainly didn’t travel 5,000 miles not to see as much of the island as possible!

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Although taxis are readily available 24/7, extremely safe and affordable, I fancied the idea of being able to drive around and explore at my leisure. My plan was simple. Work out how to rent a car and head out of Jamestown (up one of the two roads leading out of the valley) and see what I could find!

There are no international car rental companies here. No Hertz, Avis or Enterprise. As with almost all businesses on the island, car rental companies are locally owned and locally run. The resulting experience is a friendlier, less-hassle and cheaper experience.

Renting a car on the island was an unbelievably straightforward process. Within 30 minutes I’d called up, walked to the garage, signed a form and was off.

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May be an image of road, nature and coast

Although the island is only about 10 miles by 6 ½, it feels so much bigger! The island has around 80 miles of roads.

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The road traffic laws are broadly the same as back in England. I say ‘broadly’ as there are some quirks. Firstly, there’s no law requiring drivers to wear a seatbelt. In fact, very few people do. The argument against seatbelt laws was explained to me quite succinctly by a Saint last Saturday night:

  1. “The majority of roads on St Helena don’t allow you to reach speeds necessary for a seatbelt” (i.e. any crash is likely to occur at a slow speed) and;
  2. “If you drive off a cliff, what difference will a seatbelt make?”

Despite the passion with which he made his arugment, I remain unconvinced. It was an odd (and slightly rebellious) feeling to drive around in a way that back home would be illegal, but… when in Rome.

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Speaking of speed, the limit on the island is 30mph. In some places (such as Jamestown), the limit is much lower, but nowhere on the island can you exceed 30. That’s not really a problem as there aren’t many roads that you could exceed 30mph and to be fair, why would you want to? There’s so much beautiful scenery to see!

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“Wirebirds Ahead” – not a sign you see in the UK!

You will notice the difference in weather in these pictures, despite them being taken on the same day and all within a few miles apart. The weather on the island varies widely. I left Jamesdown which was basking in the midday sun whilst the other side of the island was being drenched by rain!

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Although seatbelts aren’t compulsory, what is definitely compulsory is friendliness between drivers. There’s no road rage, no frustration and no traffic jams. (No traffic lights either and one roundabout by my count). Every driver will wave at you (regardless of if they know you), and it’s custom to wave back! This sometimes extends to passing pedestrians too! It speaks volumes as to just how friendly this place is.

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The only other difference to driving in the UK is the drink driving laws. The legal drink driving limit in England & Wales is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath. On St Helena, the limit is higher at 50 micrograms per 100ml of breath. I am against drink-driving at the best of times, but I cannot think of a worse place to get behind the wheel. Many of the roads are very narrow and adjacent to several-hundred-foot sheer drops.

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The number plates are quite interesting. The lowest I’ve seen is “5”, but I’m reliably informed that there is a “1”.

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Here are some various pictures from my road trip:

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May be an image of outdoors and text that says "Domaines nationaux ade de Sainte-Hélene Napoleonic Sites of Saint Helena Maison de Longwood Longwood House"
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The above two photographs were taken at Longwood House which was the residence of Napolean during his exile on the island between 1815 and 1821. Sadly closed on the day of my road trip, it will no doubt feature in a future blog.

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May be an image of natureMay be an image of road, mountain, tree and natureI wasn’t brave enough to risk driving down this road near to the Heart-Shaped Waterfall!
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Flashbacks to my 14-day imprisonment at Bradley’s Camp!
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Looking out towards the South Atlantic from the Wharf at Rupert’sMay be an image of cloud, nature and roadThe lack of traffic allows you to take pictures stood in middle of the road! This is one of (if not the) only road with two lanes. With no other traffic about, I put my foot down and reached breakneck speeds of 30 mph!May be an image of coast and nature
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; the weather apps are misleading – my phone said it was 21 degrees!
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May be an image of bridge, nature and treeOn the way to the Heart-Shaped WaterfallMay be an image of tree, road, cloud and natureMay be an image of tree and natureMay be an image of mountain, grass, nature and tree
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I finished my road trip with sunset at the Wharf.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of my mini-road trip! I’ve also managed to find a mobile phone cradle so hopefully (internet permitting) I’ll be able to share some footage of driving on the island.

If you are interested in learning more about driving on St Helena, see the website.

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St Helena. Where do I start?

I’ve discovered a lot since arriving on St Helena. The island is perhaps one of the most beautiful places on the planet, washing powder is bloody expensive and I am really bad at regularly updating this blog.

It’s been almost two weeks since I was released from my mandatory quarantine at Bradley’s Camp (think Center Parks but less pretentious and far better value for money). Bradley’s is what you make it. I’ve heard some horror stories from people that quarantined in earlier cycles, but I couldn’t fault it. You’ll see from my earlier posts that the food was fantastic, the company was great and the weather (as it’s been since day 1), was scorching!

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The view from the top of Jacob’s Ladder in Jamestown

Since my release, I’ve taken the keys to my new digs in Jamestown and started to settle into island life. I’ve had dozens of emails filled with questions so I’m going to do my best to answer them all in this post. I’m sorry if I’ve not replied to your email – as you’ll soon discover, the internet is both very slow and very expensive (although this is set to change when the new high-speed fiberoptic internet cable lands by 2022).

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May be an image of food, nature and sky

I was collected from Bradley’s last Tuesday and greeted with the first handshake I’ve had in almost 10 months. It felt very alien. I’m just about used to little things like handshakes, walking into shops without a mask and sitting in a beer garden. Being Covid-free, there are no social distancing measures here, no masks and no hefty fines for sitting on benches. Little things that used to be part of everyday life feel so strange and although admittedly somewhat selfish, it’s so pleasant to get back to normality. I haven’t heard anyone mention the C-word other than when discussing what a truly awful state the rest of the world is in and how fortunate we are to be here. The entry requirements on St Helena are very stringent and rightly so – the island only has a small hospital with limited intensive care resources. Coupled with a large elderly population, if the virus landed here, it would be a disaster. Multiple Covid tests followed by a mandatory 2-week quarantine is a small price to pay.

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St Helena has some of the most amazing scenery. It’s such a truly beautiful place.

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Aside from the beauty, the other noticeable difference between St Helena and the UK is just how friendly people are. The difference is immediately noticeable within just a few minutes of walking the streets of Jamestown. It’s custom to greet everyone that passes you in the street and often, complete strangers will stop you for a chat. If you’re driving, you’ll be waved at by every passing motorist. It’s not uncommon for passing motorists to stop in the road for a chat! There is an overwhelming sense of friendliness and community on St Helena, long since lost in most parts of the UK – and it’s genuine.

Speaking of friendliness; St Helena wrote the book on customer service. Shop staff will go out of their way to help. As an example, one of the friends I quarantined with at Bradley’s wanted a very specific type of juice drink. The response from the shopkeeper on the phone… “We haven’t got it, but we’ll go out and find it for you!” – and they did.

Can you get [insert name of food or drink] ?

I’m actually very impressed at the range of food available on the island. There isn’t much that I’ve struggled to find. Fresh vegetables being the exception – it can be a lottery as to what is available, when and where. It’s all good fun though.

Draught beer is a noticeable absence. Although the pubs are extremely well-stocked (especially The Muleyard on the seafront – my new local haunt), I’m yet to find anywhere that serves draught beer. I’m told there’s a place that you can find draught Guinness, but a separate colleague tells me that’s an urban myth. I’ll keep you posted.

The range of options to eat out is also good. There’s a variety of local places, a Chinese restaurant/takeaway and various places to grab a quick bite such as the sandwich bar or Coffee Hut. Rosie’s gets a special mention for perhaps one of the best views from a bar/restaurant I’ve ever seen. The balcony overlooks the South Atlantic from the top of Ladder Hill. It’s breath-taking.

A bonus of being surrounded by thousands of miles of ocean is the availability of fresh fish. Tuna, Wahoo and Crayfish are all readily available and are some of the freshest I’ve ever tasted.

A favourite for good coffee and a decent breakfast is the Coffee Hut on the Seafront. St Helena Coffee is some of the best I’ve ever tasted!

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Is it hard to cope without a [Starbucks/McDonalds/Tesco etc] ?

Nope. I thought it would be, but it’s not.

What’s the internet situation?

Slow and very expensive.

See here and brace yourself:

What’s your flat like?

Big enough for me, clean, a 3-minute walk to work and opposite a pub. There’s also an outside courtyard which is a suntrap. It ticks all the boxes. I sacrificed a large garden and a sea-view for such a short commute and being within walking distance of all the local amenities. I’m used to sitting in traffic for an hour to/from work each day and given my new working hours, I now have an extra two hours free each evening.

What does the Court look like?

I am a big fan of old-fashioned court buildings. St Helena Magistrates’/Supreme Court (and its impressive cannons) is pictured below.

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What about the price of beer?

Very reasonable.

May be an image of text that says "IN MULE BEERS & SPIRITS Windhoek Lager Castle lite £1.90 Hunters Gold LIGHT 80 Reg £1.90 £1.90 Flying Fish Hunters Dry Sall Rob £1.90 €2.70 £2.70 £1.60 Pro Savannah Dry T Savannah Light Windhoek Draught (Bottle) Lec Windhoek Draught (Can) Guinness Wh £2.20 £2.40 €3.00 £1.60 Non Alcoholic Beer Sall Standard Spirit (with mix) Rob Pro £1.80 €2.00 Leo In Premium Spirit (with mix) SMITH'S White Lion (with mix) (Bacardi, Southern Comfort, Jack, Bombay, Pink Gin) £1.30 Amarula (50ml) -80 Old Brown Sherry (50ml) Ros Rob £1.50 €1.00 Spa Cas"

Have you seen Jonathan?

Yes!! Jonathan (see his Wikipedia page here) is a giant Seychelles tortoise that was brought to St Helena when he was about 50 years old – in 1882… yes… EIGHTEEN eighty-two. That puts him at almost 190 years old and he’s recognised by Guinness World Records as being the world’s oldest living animal. He lives with other giant tortoises at Plantation House, the official residence of the Governor, and entry to the ‘viewing paddock’ is free!

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(Although in the interests of full disclosure, I’m not actually 100% that is Jonathan… it may be one of the other tortoises that live at Plantation House!)

Is it true that St Helena has the world’s smallest/oldest prison?

I’m not sure that HMP Jamestown is the oldest/smallest prison (in fact I’m certain it’s not), it is certainly one of the oldest/smallest in Southern Hemisphere, and perhaps the world.

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Can you do [insert name of activity] on St Helena?

St Helena has a surprisingly wide range of recreational activities. I’ve got a Bucket List which includes Scuba Diving, Sailing, Fishing, Hiking (see the Postbox Walks), Shooting and Stargazing (the island has some of the clearest skies on Earth due to the lack of light pollution).

What’s the currency/can you use Sterling/is it true there are no cashpoints?

The official currency is the Saint Helena Pound (SHP) which is pegged to the value of Sterling, which is also accepted. There are no ATM machines anywhere on the island. Some places will accept local Bank of St Helena debit cards but I mainly use cash. Cash withdrawals are available at the St Helena Bank and the process is very straightforward.

I’ve only just scratched the surface of St Helena so stay tuned for more updates! For more frequent, smaller updates, be sure to head on over to my Instagram page here and my Facebook page here. And of course, subscribe to this blog by entering your email below – you’ll get an automatic email whenever I post a new update.

If you have any questions or anything you’d like covering within a blog post, please get in touch!

I’m due for release soon!

I’ve resisted the urge to update this blog over the past 10 days. Primarily because not a great deal has happened and “I’m still in quarantine” doesn’t make for a particularly thrilling read. With only a few sleeps left until my release date, it seems like an ideal point to set out a general update and provide answers to some of the questions and emails I’ve had.

I’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to this blog which is very pleasing. I’m still finding my feet in the world of blogging and still very much a beginner, so if you’ve got any questions or things you’d like to see on here, please subscribe and drop me an email:

“Is it hot on St Helena?”

The short answer is: “yes”. The long answer is: “I’m half way through a bottle of aftersun”.

I’ve found that weather apps and forecasts are wholly misleading. The app on my phone has forecast 21/22 degrees over the past week. In reality, most days it’s been closer to 30 and the UV index has been at 11 (which is extremely high – it rarely gets beyond 2/3 in the UK). The subtropical climate is fantastic, but it’s deceptively easy to burn.

Another curiosity is how quickly the weather can change. The other morning, we had torrential rain and within the space of 5-10 minutes, it had disappeared and we were left with a blue sky and a boiling hot sun.

“What’s the food like in quarantine?”

Fantastic. Camp residents are provided with three meals each day. I’ve had around 30 meals so far, and only one that wasn’t for me. That’s not bad going. Tuna curry is a personal favourite (fresh fish is naturally a staple over here). Although the island does produce some food locally, the vast majority has to be imported.

I’ve sampled a small selection of the alcohol available on the island (purely for research you understand). The most widely available beer is imported from South Africa. Windhoek lager – very good, and Flying Fish which is an apple flavoured beer and honestly some of the nicest beer I’ve had in years. There’s also a selection of imported draught beer and South African wines available locally.

“How long does the post take on St Helena?”

I don’t know. I’ve asked a couple of people and answers range from “a few weeks” to “a few months”. What I do know, is that Amazon Prime’s next day delivery is totally useless out here. In the pre-airport days, all post came/went via the RMS St Helena and I’m told it would take around 3 months for something from the UK to reach the island. The position vastly improved following the opening of the airport, but due to Covid, the regular weekly flight to Johannesburg has been suspended. We are therefore at the mercy of the monthly Government charter flights and the MV Helena cargo ship that frequents about once a month.

I’ve asked for a letter to be sent from the UK to my St Helena address as a tester and I plan on sending a few postcards back to the UK so I’ll keep you posted!

“Are you on your own in the camp? & what do you do to pass the time?”

No, I’m thankfully not alone. There are about ten of us quarantining in Bradley’s – a mixture of residents returning home and ex-pats on Government contracts who – like me – are first timers on the island. Everyone is extremely friendly and having other people around has definitely made this quarantine period much easier.

It’s not nearly as bad as the stories I read before arriving. Although basic, it’s comfortable, friendly and certainly tolerable for a couple of weeks.

I also had a welcome hamper delivered from my office today, which was completely unexpected and very kind. Jaffa Cakes, a book and wine. It’s like they know me.

As for passing the time, aside from sunbathing (and burning), I’ve been working through books/TV series and spending most afternoons listening to SantFM ( It’s probably the only radio station in the world that can successfully pull off a transition from Rihanna to Johnny Cash. There’s also a local newspaper (The St Helena Independent) which provides welcome respite from the rags we get in the UK.

Aside from that, a few of us now have a nightly ten-pin bowling tournament. It must be the heat.

“Are you homesick?”

Of course. But I think that’s perfectly normal for anyone who has dropped everything and flown 5,000-miles around the world. Like the others I’m quarantining with, we’ve all left friends and family behind, but that’s counterbalanced by such an amazing opportunity to live and work over here.

I’ve not had the dreaded “What the hell am I doing out here?” moment, and thankfully, it doesn’t feel like I will.

“When do you start work?”

Next week. The quarantine period officially ends at 00:01 on Tuesday morning and I’ll be staying the night and being collected at 8am. Tuesday will be largely being spent being shown around the island, meeting colleagues and moving into my new flat. Of course, all this is dependant on another negative Covid test which I’m due to have on Sunday. No one’s really quite sure what happens if we test positive.

“What are you looking forward to once you get released?”

Starting work. That’s the biggest driving force. I’ve spent the last week getting to grips with how things work over here, the procedures, local laws and processes and can’t wait to get started.

I’m also looking forward to exploring the island. My flat is in the centre of Jamestown so I’ll be spending as much time as possible exploring the town and then I plan on hiring a car to explore the rest of the island. There’s also a whole host of recreational activities to get stuck into (scuba diving, shooting, hiking, fishing, golf, sailing, watersports, archery, swimming… the list goes on).

It goes without saying, I’m very much looking forward to being able to walk into shops, restaurants and bars without masks, tape and social distancing!

Of course, there’ll be plenty of pictures and updates posted on this blog so stay tuned! If you’ve not already, enter your email address into the box on this page and you’ll get an email each time I post a new update.

Until next time!

There are worse places to quarantine!

If you’d have told me a couple of months ago that I’d soon be stood on an island in the South Atlantic and the highlight of my day would be seeing a plane take off, I’d have thought you were insane.

The last Titan Airways charter flight for a month departed St Helena this morning, headed for the UK. The next flight does not arrive until the end of February. Aside from the MV Helena cargo ship which is due to arrive this week, St Helena will be completely isolated from the rest of the world.

You’ll see from the video – it started out a slightly less pleasant day – overcast and about 15 minutes of fine rain, but still warm!

I’ve had a few questions (mainly about food) since my last update, so I’ll try and answer themas best I can.

Whilst in quarantine (less than 2 weeks to go now – yes, I’m counting), we are provided with three meals a day. The camp’s catering is being provided by a local company and they’re excellent. I’ve had 3 really good meals each day so far. I’m not a huge fan of fishcakes, but these are fantastic! Dinner tonight was two huge pieces of tuna that tasted as if they’d just come out of the sea. They probably had.

Residents in the camp can also place outside orders with a local shop that will deliver things like snacks, toiletries, alcohol and cigarettes (and usually on the same day). They are insanely helpful. If you ask for something they don’t have, they’ll go out of their way to find it on the island for you. I loaded up on comfort food and had a parcel of chocolate and South African crisps delivered. Lays too – so it really is like a holiday!

To answer another common question – no, it’s really not like the Great Escape, or any other movie involving a prison camp! It’s a really relaxed, chilled out place, with stunning scenery and with staff that genuinely make you feel very welcome and looked after. There’s also a few other “first-timers” to the island quarantining here too, so it’s a very friendly atmosphere.  (Although if you try and escape, you face up to six months in prison!).

Thankfully, by mid-morning, the weather quickly improved and it was back to the sun cream!

Until next time!

Welcome to St. Helena!

As I type this, I’m looking out over the window of my Government Quarantine Camp window (Bradley’s Camp) across absolutely stunning cliffs at the bright blue South Atlantic Ocean. Any doubts about my decision to come here are quickly put to rest.

My first impression of St Helena is that it’s genuinely a beautiful island. It still hasn’t quite hit me yet that I am currently 5,000 miles away from my family and friends, about to start a new job in a place where I know absolutely no one. I haven’t had a “what the hell am I doing here?!” moment, but I’m told it’ll come. Until then, I’m enjoying the peace, quiet, amazing scenery and hot sun.

I set out to start this blog as a way to keep family and friends updated as to what is hopefully going to be an incredible adventure as well as to share pictures and videos (if the internet allows it!) However, the response and messages I’ve had has been overwhelming and it seems people are genuinely interested in what I’m doing here, why I chose to come and what it’s like. I hope you find these ramblings interesting but feel free to email me with any questions or suggestions. I’ll try and keep these posts as regular as possible, but forgive me if that’s not possible.

To put it mildly, the situation in the UK (as in 99% of the world) for the past year has been far from ideal. (I said I’d put it mildly). Covid-19 has touched all our lives in one way or another, be it socially, financially or mentally. It has been a recurring nightmare of lockdowns, tiers, substantial meals, social distancing and a constant stream of 24/7 news media telling us how bad it all is. I’m ashamed to sound selfish, but I wanted a change. I’d had enough of being isolated from family and friends, being stood outside in the freezing cold waiting to get into Tesco with a mask on and watching Sky News’ rolling count of the ever-increasing death toll. I don’t for a second underestimate how lucky I am to have been offered such an opportunity and I am genuinely grateful. If I’d had enough, I can’t imagine how bad it must be for the elderly, those without family or children not being able to experience a normal school year. It’s all truly very sad.

I applied, thought nothing of it and truthfully, it sank to the back of my mind. I got the call out of the blue and then everything seemed to move at 100mph. I’d gone from standing outside a police station in the dark freezing cold, trying not to slip on frost, to sitting in shorts and vest overlooking the ocean.

For those readers that join me from LinkedIn, I have no doubt you are expecting plenty of information on the job, my role and the day-to-day workings of the legal system. Sadly, being confined to a two-week lockdown, you’ll have to wait. In the months ahead, I’ll share what I can about how it all works here but for reasons you’ll understand, I will be limited in what I can share.

But for those of you that are interested:

  1. The laws are relatively similar to those in the UK (although they are not “Acts of Parliament” but are “Ordinances”).
  2. Some UK laws do apply here, but some don’t.
  3. There is a Magistrates’ Court, a Supreme Court (akin to the Crown Court in England & Wales) and Court of Appeal.
  4. The crime rate is low.
  5. Juries consist of 9, rather than 12.
  6. There are no private or high-street law firms.
  7. There is a prison on the island – HMP Jamestown.

Getting here

Until a few years ago, there was no airport on the island and the only way to get here was by a 7-day boat trip from Cape Town. The UK Government recently financed a new airport so the journey which used to take a week, now takes a matter of hours. I’m kind of sad not be able to take the RMS St Helena voyage as it would have definitely been an adventure. Instead, I departed on a charter flight from Stansted at just gone midnight on Monday morning. The flight took about 12 hours which included a brief refuelling stop in Ghana. I slept for most of the journey, waking up only briefly with the thud of landing in Accra Airport.

My first glimpse of the island came a few minutes before landing.

Before leaving, I did quite a lot of research on the island and life here. If there was one consistent piece of information is that it’s one of the friendliest places on earth. This was reinforced by chats with fellow passengers, immigration staff and other people en route to quarantine.

The first thing that shocked me when I walked out of the airport is the heat. It’s summer here and well into the mid-20s – a stark contrast to the rainy, cold evenings I’ve been used to for the past few months!

St Helena is quite unique as in that it’s one of the only places on the planet that hasn’t had a single case of Covid-19. Understandably, they want to keep in that way. I suppose being thousands of miles from anywhere else is perhaps in itself the best method of social distancing.

On St Helena businesses are open as normal, there are no lockdowns, no tape everywhere, no tiers and no risk of being fined for being out and about. It’s pretty much business as usual. The trade off, is that the Government has put in place extremely robust measures for all new arrivals. In my case, it goes like this:

  1. Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours before leaving the UK
  2. A further test on my arrival
  3. (Brace yourself) 14 days in a Government Quarantine Camp
  4. A further test on day 14

After day 14 and assuming I test negative (I’m not entirely sure what happens if I test positive, but it can’t be good), then I am free to leave, venture to my flat and after almost a year of social restrictions, I can return to some form of normality. It’s a high price, but in my view it’s a price worth paying. A friend joked that it’s a bit of an extreme measure to take just to find a pub that’s open.

The other thing that’s immediately noticeable is the lack of noise. Aside from the odd bird noise, it’s absolutely silent. The camp is a couple of miles away from the airport and overlooks the runway. The noise of a plane landing from Ascension Island has been the only real noise all day.

I’m under no illusions that the next fortnight is going to be tough. It’s quite a culture shock to cut off (physically and digitally) from everyone, but I knew what I signed up for. We get 30 minutes of internet per day in the camp so just enough to log on, let all my WhatsApp messages/emails download and log off. First world problems!

The camp itself isn’t actually as bad as I’d been told. As you can see from the pictures, if there’s ever a place to quarantine – it’s definitely here. We are brought 3 meals a day, there’s plenty of sun and I’ve a huge hard drive of books and films to keep me going. I’m treating it as a two-week holiday. Perhaps the strangest thing for me, is that I’ve had to use sun cream in the first time for about 18 months!

For now, I’ll leave it at that. I don’t know how much more I’ll be able to bring you from quarantine, but if you are keen to keep up with life over here, consider subscribing by entering your email into the box on this page – you’ll get an automatic email whenever I upload anything new. You could also check out this website which provides a wealth of information about life on St Helena:

Again, please feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions or anything else: