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Archive for September, 2010

Maybe it’s things beginning with B….Bird Island

Eight long weeks the other one had off and instead of  spending the holiday backpacking as we’d wanted, we’d had to ‘make do’ with a couple of weeks off instead. Given that such an awful sacrifice had to be made, I’d vowed that we’d take the time to explore some more of Seychelles instead.

Part of the plan was to try and visit another island and what we could afford was Bird Island- the most northerly of Seychelles 115 islands. As you would expect from the name, it was full of to the brim with birds. That the other one doesn’t really like birds was a trifling matter. Face your fears man, I said, all will be well, won’t it? WON’T IT?!

It wasn’t.

The plane flight, a little thing with 14 seats, was not that bad.I don’t usually mind flying but it had been some time since I’d been in one so tiny but it was great scenery, flying at 6,000 feet over the bluest waters and landing on a runway which was really a flattened field of grass.I felt like a character in a romance novel. For the briefest of moments then a bird did a fly by past the other one’s head.  I smiled weakly and said ‘to the beach’ and headed for our bungalow – to get changed.

It was spacious, clean and had a darling architectural feature; a gap between the roof and wall, perhaps for air circulation or if you were following the other’s one’s thinking, so that birds could fly in. I tried to comfort him with the entirely reasonable argument that the whole island is a haven for birds, why would they bother with us? Sure, the other one is a little beaky but it’d be a big mistake to think him in any  way a feathered friend.

I shooed him out and we went straight to the beach, we were staying one night and had no time to spare.

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Maybe it’s things beginning with B…Boozy barbeque

It started with the good but also stupid idea that we’d walk to S’s house so that we could both drink and get a lift back with J later. Lovely sunny day, not too far but a bit of  a mare  of a hill at the end. The other one perhaps more attuned to the consequences of such a rash act of walking complained bitterly but had faith that someone we know would drive past us and offer a lift before we could ever reach our destination. They didn’t.

We heaved, we sweated, we stopped, we started, we crawled up the never ending, buggering hill.I was quite literally melting. I scurried into the bathroom on arrival and very nearly stayed in there, worried that the rest of S’s guests might leave once they caught a whiff of me – I couldn’t even blame it on smelly cheeses, you’d need to find somewhere to buy them first.*

A liberal spray of S’s deodorant and I felt almost human and spent the next few hours, chatting and eating and drinking and chatting and drinking, enough to care little about being smelly anymore. We caught up with people who’d been away and as day turned into night, we enjoyed the company, an annoying party game (annoying because I couldn’t work it out) and as the final guests left, S, J, the other one and I retired for a nightcap. That wasn’t such a good idea. I’ll spare the boy but I shall say this, it wasn’t very pretty and oh dear there are photos to prove it.

* There is now a little Italian deli in Victoria that sometime has brie and ricotta and mozzarella. Wow.

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Exploring Anse Major

There are quite a few walks you can do on Mahe but usually I’m too darn lazy to do any of them – early sunday mornings out of bed need a v good incentive- yomping around the country  isn’t it. That said, its good to do something a little different now and then and midday was a respectable start, so I crashed out of  bed into the back of ‘S’s jeep (not easy) and toddled along with her and R and M on a mini adventure.

We were off to Anse Major and hit the trail near La Scala restaurant, taking the jeep as far as it could go before swapping for feet and climbing the winding, paved path, past houses and through shady trees. At first it seemed like a standard inland forest walk (cos I’m so the expert) but as the houses disappeared and the path became more rocky and narrow, it felt more like we were creeping our way along the coastline, the land to our right gradually dropping away and views to the sea beginning to emerge.

see the sea!

We strayed ‘offpath’ for a couple of viewpoints, perching precariously on rocks to gaze over the sweep of land that curved behind us before continuing on as S promised us that the best was to come. Forty five minutes in and I was wondering if it could come quickly. Fifteen more minutes and pausing at a picnic table to take some water, we  had our first proper view to Anse Major and what a divine nugget of beach it was. A secret cove of silver sand, aqua sea and lush green palms.

We had a little further to walk, climbing down a clutch of rocks to reach the beach. S was perplexed as it was the most busy she’d seen it (there were about 20 people) but we found some shade and then ran for the water for a much needed dip. The water become quite deep quite quickly but wasn’t too rough but S and I weren’t about to take R up on his suggestion that we swim to the rocks and then jump in; too far and too daring for me. No, I was happy treading water, taking in the view and chilling out.

see the beach!

And we chilled a lot. More than I could cope with if truth be known, I’m no good sitting on beaches. If I was a vegetable I think I’d be a mushroom and there aren’t any in Seychelles, so what does that tell you?

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Neighbourly

I don’t know, you go to a party and walk in and there’s your next door neighbour who you then chat to most of the evening exchanging more words in a couple of hours than you have in the three months that you’ve lived next to each other. We even told each other our names. See you can move out of London but there are some things you still carry with you, like a general aversion  to getting to know strangers on any basis.

Seychelles really is nothing more than an endurance test for urban dwellers. How long  before anonymity is craved? Imagine, the simple joy of knowing something or someone 48 hours before anyone else does…crazy.

How long will I last? Come on, someone out there must know, people often know about me before I do.

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Adventures in yoga

I’ve never been a big yoga fan, I know its great for you and its good to stretch the old body but I prefer my exercise fun and with a beat. Sometimes it can be a little too earnest for my liking. Then again, one thing I’ve learned from being here is  ‘you might as well’ – what else are you going to do? Besides, the older I get, I care less how I might get rid of the bingo wings, I just want to get rid.

Our new mate R is a qualified yoga instructor and part of his promotional plan was to create a flyer flogging his lessons – and for this he needed some willing volunteers. We were happy to help but not entirely sure we’d help his cause. Still, we turned up as requested in Beau Vallon ready to strike some yoga poses on the beach (trying not to feel like complete idiots). As it was, we were saved the humiliation as some people more flaky than us cancelled and so the whole shebang was cancelled. Saved having to do hanging dog on a public beach, phew.

Striking such poses in the sweaty environs of the outbuilding behind the Indian High Commission was less embarrassing but lacked the glamour quotient. Unfortunately, the usual instructor who’d come highly recommended wasn’t there and so we muddled through the class, doing more poses than I’d ever done in six months of the class that I went to in Crystal Palace.  I enjoyed the push and pull of the stretching but it was piggin tougher than it used to be and as for the chanting, much as I’ve been told I like the sound of my own voice, really I don’t.

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Work work work

After a piecemeal start to the new job, a couple of days working, a  public holiday, training in Mauritius and then off on hols, my first day back in I pretty much forgot everything; the key codes, my password and the whole point of my training course. A good start eh?  It didn’t help that for the next couple of weeks, various members of staff were off and dare I say it, it was busy. This wasn’t meant to be the case, it was a nice part time job where I got to come in the office, play with my office toys and go home again. Instead, I’m writing press releases, briefs, attending meetings and developing strategies.

Anyone would think I’d come to Seychelles to work : )

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Social Seychelles Saturday

Gotta love the alliteration.

In a sort of post birthday acknowledgement that a birthday had indeed passed, I organised drinks for a Saturday night at the new bar that had opened La Faya, next to Tequilla Boom. Of the mind, of *&^* it, I also put a general shout out on Social Seychelles that we’d be down there should it take anyone’s fancy. That I had no way to identify us as Social Seychelles (must get some badges) was a minor drawback, I figured that if anyone wanted to, they could try and recognise my big, fat mug. They did- the doorman and the barman even though I’d never been there before ever – I knew them from respectively, a video shop and well, where I work. That was a surprise, did I get a free birthday drink though? No. Harumph.

A couple of new friends, R and L turned up as did S and J (who got me a gorgeous necklace and bracelet that I totally hadn’t expected, v lovely of them ) and later on, A , some of her mates and some laggards from another farewell do rocked up. I enjoyed cheap cocktails despite the fact that the cranberry juice was anything but and by the end of the night was tempted to try out my dancing shoes next door but everyone was very sensible and wanted to go home and quite right, sunday would have been hell otherwise. If any random Social Seychellers were there I was too drunk to notice.

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Birthday blues

They come round thick and fast these days.  In denial and lacking the ooomph to go all out and celebrate my birthday (quite unusual, usually I force all my mates to celebrate my arrival into the world) the day passed uneventfully in work. I bought some pastry things from downstairs at Temoljees and gradually let slip, as people asked what was the occasion, that it was my birthday. Meanwhile, I’d had texts from the other one promising birthday delights, the first of which was sitting on the beach, basking in the dull grey shadow of the lurking clouds, getting sand blown in my face. True, I don’t normally get to celebrate on the beach and enjoy a swim in the ocean, all of which I did gamely, but at least the sun could have shone.

Getting home and being greeted by a Happy Birthday banner, each letter handwritten by the other one, was my second treat so now at least I know what he does in his 8 weeks off.  A glass of wine was thrust in my hand as he got his guitar out and strummed a birthday tune, not an original composition but he had made the effort to change some words to rhyme with birthday, ahhhh.

The big thrill was knowing that a posh meal was in store, not since my tenth birthday clad in a 50’s red and grey dress with black liquorice belt and bright red shoes dining at the local Italian (‘Bella Italia’ truly original) had I been so excited about eating out. In Seychelles, it’s all about the small things.

I had no idea where we were going and kept guessing, getting increasingly worried as the other one shook his head no and no again.  In Beau Vallon, we turned right by the police station and right again, we were headed for the Berjaya hotel.

We  were led to an outside octagonal shaped restaurant topped with a thatched style roof  with red tablecloths and lamps and ate a hearty Chinese meal. The spring rolls were yum and my fish was equally lip smackingly good. The ambience was a little on the quiet side but it didn’t really matter. The other one had to roll me home and into bed. Birthday done for another year. Bless, if it hadn’t been for the other one , it would have been rubbish – oh except for the two phone calls from UK buds – that did make my day.

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Culture and cocktails

Not having visited one museum, we made the effort and hit Singapore Art Museum, an airy colonial style building that was once a catholic boys school. We saw an interesting exhibition, Ming Wong: Life In Imitation, which took as its inspiration the Singapore film industry in the 1950s and also saw some works by Yeh Chi Weh, a Chinese artist. For the first time ever, we used a museum tour guide (we were cheap, it was free) and she led us from gallery to gallery explaining the art and all manner of facts that I’ve since uselessly forgotten. It was good to be stimulating the left side of the brain again. Not wanting to leave my liver out, we also treated ourselves to the one cocktail – it was all we could afford.

We first went to the bar at the top of the Swisshotel, on the 71st floor with 360 views, more or less, of the city. The view was amazing if you could get to the windows to see but the place was full – of corporate just finished work types and tourists – so yup we left ( like the princess and the pea I’m a very particular lady). We ventured to the next place on my list, a bar above the esplanade that sounded straightforward to get to but wasn’t. Emerging out of the MRT next to a dual carriageway, didn’t seem a likely place for a bar. Ducking through the subway, out the MRT station, through a shopping mall, into a concert centre and back into a mall, we were convinced we’d made it to Malaysia. We hadn’t and we still weren’t at the bar. A couple of escalator rides more and bingo, the bar.

It was worth it, sitting on the outside terrace, views to the city and a martini in hand ($20 US) we thought this is the life, stayed 30 minutes and made a mad dash to get the last MRT home. Occasional bite size chunks of luxury, that’s my life. Can’t complain though eh?

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Singapore sushi

Almost as good as avocado milkshake. Hubba hubba.

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