Archive for March, 2011

Focus girl focus!

Finally, got my head round my big little trip, 2 days Mauritius, 1.5 days Madagascar, 3.5 days Mauritius, 1 night Seychelles, 6 days Dubai, 2 days Abu Dhabi, 1 day Dubai, Home Seychelles.

And not before time, I’m on the piggin plane…

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Wedding woes

they weren't teddy bearsA really close mate is getting married in the UK and knowing that we’d be back over summer was trying her bestest to have it when we were home (and hopefully not clashing with the christening that we have to go to being godparents and all). I got all excited; seeing her on her special day, all my mates there, a weekend in Suffolk, excuse for a new frock and all the drama and delight of betrothal. We made sure we’d booked our tickets and literally a day later, I got the email saying that due to the inconsiderate three other couples they know getting married that summer, they’ve had to go for a date three weeks after we leave and two days before the other one is back at school again. I guess that’s the sacrifice of living overseas but I’m gutted :  (

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The little Big Trip

With all the jollities of the carnival, I hadn’t had much chance to think about the arrangements for my whistle stop regional tour and training course (the move  from Tunisia  to the Middle East, not quite avoiding the problem but who knew?). Caught in an administrative nightmare of not quite Kafka like proportions but enough to support a 2 cup of tea an hour habit, unsure of if I’d booked tickets to London in April instead of July and a hotel in Dubai instead of Abu Dhabi, the travel insurance debacle near tipped me over the edge. With only two main companies in Seychelles, I chose the one that had to go through a South African agent and tried to charge me 2000 rand and refused to take the money in rupees – and I live where exactly? My other crime was to want to go to Dubai – shopping it seems is a dangerous pastime. I sacked them off and went through the other company who charged me 800 rupees. So it’s done, dusted and, lets hope, there’s nothing dodgy in the small print.

I was also told on pain of death, or at the very least dismissal, that I have to have receipts for everything – a recipe for disaster as I lose most things. The only solution that currently suggests itself, is dressing up as a kangaroo and utilising pouch for handy receipt storage. Risks being, being certified, shot, shin splints from the jumping – though, I guess, technically I wouldn’t have to but for authenticity’s sake.

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A short guide to Seychelles’ foreign policy…

Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation’s morning schedule: CNN, BBC News, France 24 news, Russia Today and CCTV (Chinese). That about covers it.

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A public holiday was declared to celebrate International Women’s Day and coming two days after the end of the carnival, it couldn’t have come soon enough. Between the carnival and having guests (MP now departed), it was heavenly just to be. I sat, mute and motionless and the other one couldn’t quite believe it. I was quiet.

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Eating in, is the new eating out

Having had MP around, we’ve eaten out more than we usually would and I’ve concluded that it’s best not to bother. Too much money for what is often no more than an average meal, be it La Perle Noir, Konoba or La Scala. The other one thought La Scala fine but like La Perle Noir, while there’s nothing wrong with the food necessarily, there’s just nothing right with it either and it’s straight out of the 70s – prawn cocktail on the menu being proof enough (even though I did have it).

Konoba I thought more my style, simple food with a clean, crisp palette, but my tuna steak with aubergine was overcooked and minus the aubergine, although no-one bothered to tell me. I politely asked after its whereabouts, the waitress disappeared and reappeared with aubergine but no reason why it hadn’t been there in the first place. Still, the other one’s seafood gratin was rather yum, I was just upset that he didn’t let me eat it.

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It was hot, it was tiring, I was knackered. And I wasn’t even in it. Our sterling group of Notting Hillers had that honour,  parading from Roche Caiman down through Mont Fleuri to Victoria and back to the Stad Poplier.

The generator failed, some of the Notting Hill group were late, the ship had to pull out for operational reasons, our office door jammed, the steel band lost their bongos and none of my tweets were tweeted but despite it all our float looked great, the parade started on time, the DJ was happy and giving it large, the steel band were superb, the masqueraders in costumes were fantastic, it didn’t rain, I ate a massive prawn for 15 SCR, our pregnant mate and MP watched in air con comfort from our offices, I tried out my new camera, the other floats were amazing and it was all utterly fab and something not seen in Seychelles since 1972. See for yourself.

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As well as doing official business during the day as part of the ship’s remit to tackle piracy, in the evening prior to the opening of the Carnival, HMS Richmond hosted a cocktail reception for local bigwigs (plus the other one and MP ) to get them into the Carnival spirit. The Notting Hill steel band and some of their Masqueraders in fabulous costumes were part of the whole shebang and they strutted and danced and stole the night with their exuberance and glittering glamour. I ended up part official photographer, part PR, and part time receiver of salutes, there being a farewell party of crew saluting goodbye to people as they left but I got on and off so much (making sure buses arrived, that people got on them etc), it was embarrassing. I felt like I should salute back but knowing that it was entirely inappropriate (see I’m not completely useless) I just grinned inanely instead shrugging my shoulders, an odd affectation that I seemed to have developed as an alternative to winking given that when I try, I look like Mr Magoo with a severe attack of toothache.

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When the Ship comes in…

Credit: The Nation (Seychelles)

Another one! HMS Richmond this time and in celebration of the Carnival, they did a proper ceremonial ceremony coming into Port, which meant they were all dressed in whites and stood to attention looking mighty impressive as they came alongside. I’d managed to get some press there for the occasion and from a photo opportunity came a full blown press briefing, being invited on board to the Bridge for a Q&A and brief tour of the vessel. I only embarrassed myself twice, once talking about the Captain in the third person saying that I was waiting for him to be interviewed only later realising it was the Captain that I’d actually been talking to (he was too polite to tell me) and taking a photo of the Captain, the boss and the CEO of Seychelles Tourist Board with the lens cap on (it wasn’t my camera and it had a lens cap, mine doesn’t, I was momentarily confused that’s all).  A saving grace was that my dress was modest enough climbing the ship’s ladders and a moment I think to reflect upon the advantage that can be offered by big pants – they get such a bad press.

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What’s my line?

Greeting people off a plane, airport transfers, hotel and resort briefings  – all in a day’s job if you’re a tour rep or happen to work at the British High Commission entertaining a delegation from London’s Notting Hill Carnival. I tried my very best to be bright and breezy at the airport at 7am, having the treat of going airside and welcoming them, a high wattage grin ready for the DJ who I feared might be a tad upset from our exchange the day before when I broke the news about the equipment we had (I now know more about generators and PA systems than I would care to know and I really don’t know much).

Shepherding the group on and off the buses and onto boats to Sainte Anne Resort was as you imagine, fun, and I got the opportunity to use my ‘distinctive and not loud, there is a difference’ voice being actually quite, ahem, assertive. It seems I have no trouble briefing a group of 30 people on what to expect from Seychelles but give me a power point presentation and I’m nervousness itself. I made a mental note of potential troublemakers (trust me forget Club 18-30, Saga Holidays are the ones to avoid…), left a briefing pack and hightailed it out of there before anyone had chance to get sunburn, lose their handbag or fall out a balcony window or its ground level equivalent – walking into patio doors maybe. We did have our first hiccup only a few hours later, having arranged a recce of the Carnival route, the main guy from Notting Hill  missed his boat as he’d fallen asleep.

My brush with tour repdom made me appreciate three key things:

– I’m glad I never took the job offered as a Pontins bluecoat entertainer

– Seychelles doesn’t have an Irish pub yet

– It wasn’t permanent

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