Category Archives: Landscape

The dune sea, at sunset

Wednesday 1st December 2021, 4.45pm (day 3,751)

Dune sea, 1/12/21

The flight home. The Sahara looked astonishing: this was a day when I wish I could break my own rules and post more than one photo. The River Niger certainly was worth seeing, a braid of blue and green running through a sandy wasteland. We must have crossed that somewhere in Mali.

But instead I will go with this shot; for much of the three hours it took to cross the desert I was thinking, hmmm, well it’s certainly barren, but more rocky than sandy. But then came this sea, this ocean of dunes, tinged by the setting sun. This must be far enough north to be somewhere in Algeria. Not that national boundaries really mean a lot here. If anything this is Arrakis. Had a gigantic sandworm crested out of this stuff with Fremen on its back, I would not have been surprised.

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Sandy Bay, and Lot

Saturday 27th November 2021, 1.20pm (day 3,747)

The spectacular scenery of St Helena is enhanced by the fact that the pattern of vegetation one sees in the UK is reversed. It is the coast, the lower levels, that is rocky and barren, and the mountains which are covered in lush vegetation: all down to the fact that the rain falls high up, but not low down. This is taken from the Blue Hill area, looking down to Sandy Bay, past the basalt pillar known as ‘Lot’ (and his wife is somewhere over to the right of this image).

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Bare hillside

Thursday 25th November 2021, 5.40pm (day 3,745)

Bare hillside, 25/11/21

Until the 1500s St Helena was covered in forest. Then humanity arrived, and even if people didn’t cut down the trees themselves, they released goats onto the island, which munched away at any new shoots for the subsequent half-millennium. Although some recovery has been made recently, in places, a lot of the lower parts of the island look like this as a result. It’s attractive, in its way, but it’s also dead land. Only about 21% of the island is cultivated with another 11% afforested. 54% is classed as ‘barren’. Two years ago today I was in Java, another steep volcanic island; but one festooned with terraces, every inch used to support the population. The contrast is notable.

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Briars Pavilion and the Heart-Shaped Waterfall

Monday 22nd November 2021, 10.35am (day 3,742)

Heart-Shaped waterfall, 22/11/21

Briars Pavilion — the first home of St Helena’s most famous resident, Napoleon Bonaparte. When he arrived here in 1815 post-Waterloo, he lived here for the first couple of months while his more permanent home (Longwood House) was being prepared.

The Heart-Shaped Waterfall — well that is its official name, and you have to say that it is appropriate. But it seems they only turn it on during the winter months (May – September).

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The interior

Saturday 20th November 2021, 12.25pm (day 3,740)

Time to do some exploring. It’d be nice if the weather improved — even the locals are complaining that it should be sunnier and warmer by this time in the year — but at least the drizzle gives this shot a nicely melancholy atmosphere. This is taken almost in the very centre of the island, very close to where Edmond Halley, the famous astronomer, set up an observatory in 1677.

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Visitors’ parking, Bradley’s Camp

Thursday 18th November 2021, 9.20am (day 3,738)

Bradley's Camp view, 18/11/21

After eight days in a row in the house, a morning out — so I could have something stuck up my nose, and then be returned. Somebody, somewhere, thinks there’s a point to all this. (I will add that I had things stuck up my nose both before flying here, and on arrival, and have been in isolation since.)

The island has a verdant interior but the rim is very barren. Out by the airport sits “Bradley’s Camp”, a bunch of prefabs surrounded by barbed wire and personal security that is presumably where the local authorities stick the asylum seekers, people with a 0.0001% chance of having a currently fashionable communicable disease, and other undesirables. But at least it has parking facilities for visitors.

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The bigger picture

Tuesday 16th November 2021, 1.15pm (day 3,736)

Hillside Villa view, 16/11/21

OK, it’s time to do the main panorama from my place of incarceration. The movie director in my head would still prefer to wait for the lighting to be just so, but to be honest, breaks in the cloud have been rare this last week — indeed, as I type this on Wednesday morning, it’s raining heavily and none of this can be seen at all.

To the left, Ladder Hill, depicted in close up a few days ago. Below it, tucked in its valley, Jamestown, the capital and one of the few places on the island where one can actually land a boat. To the right, Rupert’s Valley, more industrial (i think those are fuel pipelines visible) — between them, Munden’s Hill. All to be more intimately explored at a later date. In the direction shown, the next land is, I calculate, the Ivory Coast, or perhaps Ghana, at least 1,800 miles away.

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Ladder Hill, from afar

Saturday 13th November 2021, 12.30pm (day 3,733)

Ladder Hill, 13/11/21

Sunshine has actually been at a premium thus far, and I’ve been waiting to give you more of the panorama from my place of incarceration until the light gets better. But a burst of it after lunch did today illuminate the distant Ladder Hill. So named as it is the top of Jacob’s Ladder, visible heading down to the right — an infamous 700-step climb up from Jamestown below. People run up this for fun, so I’ve been told. Rest assured that once I get out of here, I shall not be joining them.

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The mast, in autumn

Wednesday 3rd November 2021, 12 noon (day 3,723)

Mobile mast, autumn, 3/11/21

Hebden Bridge in autumn plumage. A nice place to be. Cold at the moment, though, but the trees look good.

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A burned bit of Iceland (not the UK!)

Sunday 10th October 2021, 2.40pm (day 3,699)

Iceland view, 10/10/21

Yes folks, after 615 consecutive days on the island of Great Britain, I have finally left it. It was February 2nd 2020, in Bucharest, that this blog last featured anywhere outside England, Scotland or Wales. You know the reasons why. And yes, I appreciate travel can be seen as a privilege, and I’m grateful that I’ve finally broken the run, for all that the last 20 months have, at least at times, seen plenty of interesting sights.

This is not my final destination: instead this was taken on my first descent, into Keflavik airport, where I and the family were last seen waiting out the 12-hour flight delay that EasyJet (never, ever again) subjected us to in July 2019. I changed planes here and moved on. You can tell it’s Iceland, though — only that island has random burned bits like this, huge lumps of volcanic cinder that just seem here to be a normal part of the landscape.

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