Day 20 - January 15th
All of a sudden it is the last day, so time to go off on a last shopping trip in Georgetown. Lynda pops into the Ascension Island post office to get some small island maps and to order first day covers.
Strange to think that this relatively tiny post office sends first day covers all over the world.
In fact the Post office had reopened a few days earlier having just undergone a major refurbishment.
Another building with a recent face lift is the Ascension Island government building (below). This has had a chequered history, starting off life as the CPO mess, then becoming the Islander hostel and is now the AIG building.
The island is now a democracy, with the first general election held on 1st November 2002. Very wisely the first island council meeting following the election avoided November 5th and held its first meeting on 7th November 2002
The more curious among you may have noticed that, although water is a precious commodity on the island, with the average water bill more expensive than most heating bills in the UK (or should one now say UK council tax), there is a lot of colour in Johnny's back garden.
Now we can let the secret of all these Georgetown colourful gardens out, it is down to recycled oil drums. Or ,more accurately their recycled contents which are delivered several times a week from the Georgetown water treatment plant.
Maybe one's status on Georgetown society is dictated not by one's social position by the number of recycling drums.
Johnny has a 2+2 configuration either side of his garden but some houses have even more. No-one I met owned up to enhancing growing vegetables with recycled water but I am sure it goes on.
After lunch time for one last expedition, and for once the boys are allowed on the back seat of the Landrover, rather than being banished to the back.
Everybody knows that the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, but some of the rock and lava formations feel positively pre-historic.
But, as always on Ascension, go round another bend and the view changes. This time the Comfortless Cove tracking station would not look out of place in a modern James Bond film. Whilst we all know that Ascension Island is just south of the equator, someone in the USA does not, as they recently sent some special ropes to the guys at the tracking station that are meant to be attached to the top and then dropped down so that they can be use for snow clearing off the dome!
Having parked up, we are walking in search of sand blow hole, with Green mountain to our right shrouded in low lying cloud.
The white material on the rocks above is guano but the seabirds, haven't bred here for 200 odd years although maybe they will start to return now that the cats have gone.
When we get to the sand blow hole, there is not enough activity to move any sand. Keiran, who lives next door, would not be wanting to be there if the blow hole was actually going strong as it is as powerful as the seawater blow hole in earlier days' pictures.
The hole is 100 or so feet up and 100 feet back from the coast so the waves which drive this blow hole have to push the air a long distance. So that gives you some idea of the force of the breakers when the big rollers come in from time to time.
As it is hot we don't go straight back but have a dip at Comfortless Cove itself, and Lynda practises a new form of aquaerobics which involves keeping one arm permanently out of the water and wrapping it in a plastic bag to enhance calorie loss. Talking of sports, we drive back past the golf course, still reputedly the worst in the world, but no sign of any players today.
In the picture above, if you look carefully you can see three lines of pipe. The dark cast iron one carried water down under gravity from the mountain, and put in place in the mid 19th century by the marines and lasted about 100 years . The pale turquoise one, i.e. the lower of the two coloured ones was built in the 60's to carry water up to two boats from the desalinisation unit at the BBC power station at English bay, and the blue top one is a replacement for the turquoise one which is now giving problems. So that makes the score, Marines 1 BBC 0 , when it comes to constructing pipelines.
Literally across the road we are suddenly presented with another contrast of technology used by the marines in the form of a donkey and Birdies Refuelling Station, the only petrol station on the island for ordinary mortals.
Back home and all packed up. Lynda can't resist one sniff of the garden plants.
Airport departure arrangements are much tighter than in '97 when we checked-in and then Johnny took us off to a road overlooking the runway to watch our plane land. This time we have to stay put but at least we can sit outside and it is not too hot. The Air Luxor airbus A-330 lands, taxies to just in front of us and gives an opportunity for another picture contrasting old and new. All-in-all a fitting last reminder of Ascension which somehow manages to marry its many links to the past with it's changing role in the 21st century.
We have had a super time and are totally relaxed and unwound. So much so that there were still things we didn't get round to doing, but that just gives us a good excuse for not leaving it 7 years to our next visit.
A big thank you to Johnny, Shub, Raxa, Glenn, Angela, Melenka and everyone else who made our holiday so trouble free (apart from that caused by Finn) and memorable.
The "next button" below will take you onto our epilogue.