Members of North Bute Literary Society were given an informative and entertaining presentation at their latest meeting on February 2 by Isabel and Colin Sharp of their recent holiday to St Helena by Royal Mail ship RMS St Helena.
For those of us who hadn’t appreciated the distance travelled, St Helena is 2,500 miles east of Rio De Janeiro and 1.200 miles west of Angola in the mid Atlantic - and is well known as the second place of imprisonment for Napoleon Bonaparte.
Colin and Isabel travelled to the island from the UK via Cape Town in South Africa and onward with RMS St Helena, which is the only designated RMS service left in the world.
The journey was described in great detail, and constituted half of the holiday as the sail to the island takes five days.
Isobel contrasted with humour the differences of the journey by sea to St Helena in relation to our own CalMac service to Bute - including the options of playing quoits, shuffleboard and on-deck cricket with your fellow passengers.
Arriving at Jamestown they proceeded to explore the island. The locals, known as Saints, had economic and employment concerns which were not too dissimilar to Bute - only more acute due to the isolation of extra distance.
However, this should improve once the island’s first airport opens this month.
Sadly, the opening of the new airport means RMS St Helena will be decommissioned from service, making this a journey of a lifetime and also of living history.
Their talk covered local and international history related to the strategic naval importance of the island, as well as native flora and fauna peculiar to the volcanic geography.
The vote of thanks was given by Mrs Janet O’Sullivan.
The Lit’s next meeting is at Ardbeg Baptist Church in King Street, Rothesay at 7.30pm on Tuesday, February 16, when Tommy Lawton’s chosen subject is the Glasgow/Paisley to Ardrossan Canal.
Admission is free to mmbers of the ‘Lit’, and £2.50 for visitors.