I have been inundated by almost one expression of concern over my radio silence last Sunday. Here’s the reason.
Monday 24th April was spent getting ready before setting off on holiday the following day. We drove to Heathrow, got on a plane and (a mere 12 hours later) arrived in Mauritius. While I’m not frightened of flying I wouldn’t really do it for fun so this was a particularly long haul for me but it was part of the continuing celebrations for my wife’s significant birthday year.
Mauritius is an island of about 2,040 square kilometres (790 sq mi) sitting in the Indian Ocean around 1000km to the east of Madagascar, at about 20°S. Just over 600 years ago the Dutch took possession which then passed to the French before we took it from them in 1810, holding it as a colony before it became independent in 1968. They drive on the left, the road signs look completely English with English, French and Mauritian Creole being spoken.
It’s a lovely island – the picture is the view from our terrace as the early morning cloud burnt off (or the late afternoon cloud rolled in?). Mauritians seem to be charming people and we had a terrific time, mainly relaxing (and eating and drinking, I fear) but doing a lot of swimming and snorkeling – and I did manage a little running (too hot but an outing for my minimalist running shoes) and a session in the hotel gym.
We ticked off the monkey, dolphin and sea turtle sightings on a day-long speed boat trip, but we probably didn’t do the island justice in terms of seeing enough of what it has to offer – a fine excuse to go back one day.
We went ‘all inclusive’ at the hotel – I have no idea if the extra you pay is more or less than the extras you consume but it simplifies things and works well as long as you don’t eat and drink like an idiot (which I seem to do for a couple of days before coming to my senses). We had some cloud and even a bit of (warm and welcome) rain but daytime temperatures were typically somewhere between 28 – 32℃ (82 – 90℉) which is too hot for me but my wife loves it.
We left on Thursday evening 4 May to fly back to the UK, arriving on Friday morning. We left in 30℃ and arrived in London to 13℉, struggling with the usual end-of-holiday dilemma of whether to swelter on departure or shiver on arrival. A door to door trip of 19 hours.
While we were there I got talking to a Polish man who had driven 150km to Berlin to get a plane to Paris to pick up his flight to Mauritius – only to be told his first flight had been cancelled last October. Alternatives were arranged but he lost his extra leg room bookings … and I guess he was probably 6ft 5inches.
When he did get to Mauritius, he picked up a hire car only to be stopped by the Police as he neared the hotel, who told him that the car was a private car and so was not allowed to be hired to him. He was told he had to drive straight back to the airport to swap the car – and he was given a violation ticket to serve on the hirer.
He was still smiling – a charming chap with the patience of a saint.
Interesting stuff this week
1. African wise words: A good name is better than a good perfume
2. BBC News website: Happy birthday, dear tortoise, happy birthday to you
Jonathan the tortoise turns 190 this year and there will be a three-day party for him at his home on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.
Although it is not known exactly how old Jonathan is, a photograph taken in 1882 shows that he was already fully grown when brought to the island – indicating that he was about 50 years of age at the time.
He’s the oldest living land animal and was recently named the oldest tortoise ever (or to be more exact the oldest chelonian – a category which includes all turtles, terrapins and tortoises).
We know a lady (now in her 80s) who comes from St Helena and remembers riding on Jonathan when she was a girl
3. BBC News website: Best (delicate) foot forward
The man who measured the King’s feet for the shoes he will wear at his Coronation said it had been “an amazing experience”. The company co-founder has measured the King’s feet several times and described them as “delicate”.
The King made an official visit to the firm’s factory in 2019. He has since made several purchases. The shoes to be worn for the Coronation cost about £3,500.
Oh, please …
4. BBC News website: A British approach to high-tech
Two British companies are to fly an innovative, low-cost radar satellite – part of which will be knitted on a knitting machine.
Called CarbSar, the satellite will use radar technology to see through cloud and will even work at night. The mission will launch next year, and could help fill a gap in Britain’s spying capacity.
‘and will even work at night’ – I assumed they all did
5. BBC News website: ‘and here is the short range forecast’
The first images from Europe’s new weather satellite, Meteosat-12, have just been released. IT sits 36,000km above the equator and is currently in a testing phase that will last most of this year.
When Meteosat-12’s data is finally released to meteorological agencies, it’s expected to bring about a step-change in forecasting skill. Warnings of imminent, hazardous conditions should improve greatly.
Very useful, I’m sure, but is a warning of an imminent event ‘forecasting’ on a slightly short timescale
6. BBC News website: More swearing than allegiance?
As part of the impending coronation of King Charles III, for the first time, the public are being given an active role in the ceremony as they are invited to swear allegiance to the King. A close friend of the King has said that Charles would find the idea of people paying homage to him during his Coronation “abhorrent”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has said swearing allegiance to the monarch, was “an invitation; it’s not a command”. The order of service will read: “All who so desire, in the abbey, and elsewhere, say together: “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.”
If the King would find it abhorrent but it is still in the service, it seems to me this must mean that either: (a) the King does not know the content of his own coronation service, or (b) he has failed to express his abhorrence, or (c) his expressed abhorrence has been ignored.
Do me a favour …