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Report No 2 - 21 October 2006
Well, we are now back at our respective grindstones in our desert
island paradise with our, all too brief, holiday in England becoming a
more and more distant memory as every day passes.
We arrived back right in the middle of 'Ramadan', the Moslem
equivalent of Lent  and Christmas rolled into one. Previously, on
Ungoofaru, general work hours and practices appeared quite erratic to
us. During Ramadan there appears to be no schedule at all. However, it
all ends this weekend. But not without the mandatory 'few' days
holiday. Hopefully by next Wednesday things will be back to 'normal'.
The housing phase of the reconstruction project is still progressing
slowly but with very visible changes taking place every day despite the
persistent slow delivery of essential building supplies that continue to
frustrate the contractor's  valiant attempts to make up for lost time.
(See latest photos.)
The weather has changed considerably in the last few weeks. After
almost continuous westerly and north westerly winds, very strong at
times, and frequent heavy rainfall since we arrived in April, we have
been treated to many days with cloudless skies and almost glassy seas.
The boat crossing to Jack's work island now averages eight or nine
minutes against the ten to fifteen (with a maximum of forty)
previously. Of course, it wouldn't be the Maldives without the
occasional heavy rainstorm out of nowhere, to break the monotony.
However, we are told we can expect more wet weather as the, normally
drier, north easterly monsoon season starts.
Our new accommodation on Ungoofaru was still not ready when we
returned from leave so we are still in our basic little 'two bedder'.
Never mind though, we been promised that our new place will definitely
be ready 'next month'!
Our holiday was a very welcome break for both or us. Unfortunately,
despite the popular notion of an idyllic lifestyle, this particular desert
island life is only bearable in small doses.
On the way to England we stopped for a day in Colombo, Sri Lanka, to
pick up some warm clothes. There we met up with some ex PNG
co-workers Graham Curnow and Damian Egan and an ex POM Hash House
Harrier and POM Tennis Club friend Ravi 'Alzaima' Perera. We had a
few beers at the Hilton and then had dinner together in the high
security setting of the Twin Trade Towers (Sri Lanka version) with
access arranged by Ravi.
We were overwhelmed by the hospitality of our relatives and friends in
England but the cost of living frightened us quite a bit. It was great
to meet up with those who we did manage to visit but there were
several others we really wanted to see but time beat us. I think we
needed a fortnight for each relative and friend .... and the money to go
with it.
We spent the first few days near London staying with Jack's niece,
Angela, her husband Marcus and their daughters Elizabeth and Victoria.
We stayed a couple of days longer than planned as Viv's sister, Gladys
came all the way from Jamaica to see her. Angela and Marcus very
kindly put us all up at their house. They were both working long hours
so we didn't get to see as much of them, or the girls, as we would have
liked but we did spend a very pleasant afternoon visiting the 'Steam
Fair' and viewing vintage cars at the local park with them.
While with Angela, old Truro School friend, Andy Thomas came over
from Crouch End where he has lived for some time and we spent a very
pleasant afternoon chatting and strolling around the Watford area.
Then we travelled down to Christchurch, Hampshire, to stay with
Jack's brother in law, Reg, who is also Angela's Dad. Jack's brother
George was also there having come up from the Isles of Scilly for our
visit. While there we went on several walks through the picturesque
countryside to take advantage of the lovely weather. And, needless to
say, not a few visits to local hostelries to relax and catch up with
family news and to titilate the taste buds with the latest brews.
Jack also managed to squeeze in nine holes of golf with old school
friend, Dr Mike Hardy at the pleasant little New Forest course at
Burley. Mike now lives in Lymington and works just a few hours each
week at the local hospital.
Of course, Christchurch was also the venue of the main reason for
taking the trip at this time, the de Havilland Apprentice Reunion. It
went really well and, though several of the old friends that Jack had
met last time were absent, there were several other 'new' old friends
to catch up with. On the evening before the Reunion proper we held a
smaller get-together of some of the old 'inner circle'. Viv was able to
meet Jack's closest old friend from the apprentice days, Pete Deacon
Smith, and his wife Margaret, as well as some of the other notables
such as Derek Bernard and Reunion organiser, Garth Rogers.
After one more day to recover from the Reunion, we took George to the
airport at Eastleigh for his return trip to Scilly and we headed off
south west to Jack's old stomping ground, Cornwall.
While they were busy with their rebuilding we took the opportunity to
visit the Eden Project nearby. If you aren't familiar with it look it up
on the internet. It's fascinating and well worth a visit. Once again we
were blessed with beautiful weather which made all the difference as
many of the displays are outside the main domes.
We then crossed over to the south side of Cornwall to visit another
old school friend Rob Collins and his wife Delia. But, on the way, we
stopped of for a cup of tea and a chat with Jack's cousin Lew in
Tresillian, near Truro. Lew left Scilly some time ago to operate a
guest house in Penzance and later retired to Tresillian. When we
arrived he had just returned from a trip to Falmouth where he goes
regularly to swim with his friends.
Rob had been at the de Havilland Reunion but Delia hadn't been able to
go and so it was particularly good to see her again. She seemed just the
same as she was on our last visit to their house ten years ago. But
young Robbie had naturally grown enormously and we wouldn't have
recognised him away from Rob and Delia. Rob's sailmaking business,
which he still operates from his home premises, has now gone very high
tech and we were very impressed. Rob also impressed us with his latest
interest, his participation in the performances of the Mevagissey Male
Choir. A talent we didn't recognise when he performed with the
'informal' Wasps choir many years ago! He gave me one of the choir's
CDs as a parting gift and we played all the way back up to
Bournemouth.While with Rob and Delia we visited to another of Jack's
old school friends whom he hadn't seen since leaving school, John
Richards, who lives just a few miles away. Sadly John lost his wife just
the month before but he was still good enough to entertain us for our
brief visit. It was good to see him again. We tried to persuade him to
join Rob's choir as he was a member of the school choir many years ago.
We also managed half a day in Truro with Rob as the chaffeur. Jack
found it had changed considerably since his school days. We didn't get
up to the school itself but we could see it clearly standing out on its
own on the hillside.
Back in Bournemouth we stayed overnight with two of our closest
friends from Jamaica, Jim and Gwen Johnson. They still live at Talbot
Woods on the northern fringe of Bournemouth. Unfortunately they had
to leave very early the morning after we arrived to do their regular
duty as National Trust Wardens on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour.
Unlike most of our old friends, Jim is still working full time. I don't
know if he is younger than the rest or just looks younger!
From there we slowly headed east to Portsmouth for a bit of
sightseeing before landing at the house of John and Christine
Warringer near Gosport, who were our very kind hosts for this part of
the trip. The reason for our visit was for an informal reunion of
several old patrons of the former Manchester Club in Mandeville,
Jamaica, organised by John and Paul McGeown. Jack was not actually a
member of the club but he was a frequent visitor which was excuse
enough to meet up with some more old friends.
Because of the short notice for the reunion several stalwarts of the
club couldn't be there this year but there were enough to make it a
memorable occasion. John has done a marvelous job transplanting
memorabilia from the original Manchester Club to the new 'spiritual'
home in his garden and the reunion dinner couldn't have been more
enjoyable. Apart from John and Paul the other former members in
attendance who were also Mandeville Club members were Liam Fennelly,  
and Keith Garrett.
The penultimate day of our holiday started with a conducted tour of
the Gosport peninsula with John as our very knowledgeable guide. Then
the afternoon saw us cruising up to the little village of Woldingham,
just south of Croydon, to visit former MOTH4 colleague Gary Pollock,
known in Hash House Harrier circles as B...... B....... (This is a family
site!)
There we were entertained royally once again but not before being
taken on a walking tour of the beautiful countryside by Gary and his
wife Beryl.
The next day was spent doing our final packing, last minute shopping,
dropping off the hire car and making our way to Heathrow for our trip
back to Male. A direct, overnight flight this time, arriving at our
destination at about midday.
We had a pleasant surprise for our trip back to Ungoofaru as we
finally managed to get a standby seat on the airtaxi to our nearest
resort with just a short boat ride to our island. Seeing all the atolls
from the air was really magical. (Typical photo among our holiday snaps.
As expected, nothing much has changed here while we were away. Of
course there is a pile of work to be cleared but hopefully we will be
able to update this site more regularly from now on.
To be continued ...
First stop was to visit the latest owners of Trewornan Manor near
Wadebridge, old school friend Richard Oliver and his wife Teeny. They
have done a fantastic job restoring the huge building and it was a real
experience staying there with them. Our bathroom was half the size of
our house on Ungoofaru and the walk round the grounds took longer
than a walk round our island! Richard is still heavily involved with the
old school as he is now one of the Board of Governors.