Thursday, 2 August 2018


13th - 15th June 2018

Looking south over St George's towards the harbour and airport

After a fairly tedious 7½ hour flight we landed at 6.30pm at L.F.Wade International Airport on the north eastern end of the island(s). It is just south of St George's on St David's Island (most of these islands are close together and joined by bridges or causeways). Cattle Class on the flight was fairly full. Club and 1st Class, and goodness knows what they would have cost, contained a total of 9 passengers! BA cabin crew really do leave a lot to be desired, certainly in comparison with most Middle and Far Eastern airlines. I will not comment on their appearance, but they all seem to do the job on sufferance and with little enthusiasm. Some have obviously been doing it for many years.

I was met by my host with his scooter. Only Bermudian residents are permitted to own cars, and only one per household at that. Foreigners cannot hire cars, so scooters are it.

He had not appreciated that I would be carrying a large(ish) suitcase. I always do because they are useful as seats and can be reasonably securely locked up. Anyway, there was a little basket on the back which. fortunately, my case neatly fitted into albeit rather insecurely (left). And colour coordinated.

It was a 5 mile drive to his accommodation on the hill north of St Georges which we negotiated safely. To this day I am not sure what the town is properly called. Referred to locally as 'St George's' the sign on entering calls it 'The Town of St George'. A pedantic point no doubt.
There is a 35 mph speed limit on all the roads out of town which, I quickly gathered, is universally ignored. They conveniently drive on the left side of the road.

Right: For future reference, an aerial shot of the island(s). St George's is at the top right (known as the 'East, or Blue, End'), Hamilton, the capital, is on the south side of the sticky-out bit going left just south of it, and the Royal Naval Dockyard is at the tip of fish-hook to the top left (known as the West, or Red, End). Is that clear? As you can see, very built-up and crowded.

Left: My host's rented apartment on the ground floor right side. As possibly mentioned, I could not have afforded any other accommodation at Bermudian sky-high prices. 

Right: Our view from the terrace over St George's harbour.

All the houses, large or small, appear pristine and beautifully maintained (left). The walls tend to be painted in differing pastel shades, but all, even the grandest villas, have exactly the same type of white roof. No point in asking to go the 'house with the white roof', and directions are often given to go to 'the pink, or blue. or whatever coloured' house you want to find. There is a reason for this. 

Right: The roofs are constructed with ridges which channel rainwater down a pipe into an underground tank. The white 'paint' is of a substance which helps purify the rainwater. Other than one small 'emergency' desalination plant, rain is virtually the only source of fresh water on the island. It seems to have worked OK for a few hundred years, and they do get a lot of rain from time to time. Precious stuff.

Wandering around the very picturesque town I decided to 'go native' and buy myself a pair of genuine Bermuda shorts at the 'English Sports' emporium (B$59). I never normally wear shorts because my legs tend to frighten the horses. My sartorial efforts (left) were badly let down by my shoes and socks. The correctly dressed Bermudian 'man about town' will usually wear shorts, 2" above the knee (not ghastly patterned ones I hasten to add) with jacket, tie, proper shoes and woollen socks which should come up to 2" below the knee. Or sandals, without socks. What a disgrace I was.

Right: Looking down Duke of York's street from Custom's Square. A typical street. There are no high-rise buildings in St George's, or anywhere else for that matter, apart from a few new taller office buildings in Hamilton, and the occasional lighthouse.

Several iconic British features adorn the place such as the post-boxes (left). 

Right: King's Square in the centre of town.

In which is the Town Hall (left) with its Town Crier who rang his bell and made loud announcements.

He also doubled up as the resident bagpiper (right) to keep the passing tourists amused, or not, depending on one's appreciation of bagpipes.
For those not familiar, they are an 'area weapon' used by the Scots to intimidate their enemies or by buskers as a means of extracting money from gullible Japanese and American tourists on the streets of Edinburgh.

Behind him on the Square were the stocks (left).

Of course, some idiot had to 'have a go'......... !
Fortunately nobody threw any rotten tomatoes or eggs at him. Considering the price of food here, I'm not altogether surprised.

On the harbour-front nearby was a replica 'ducking stool'. Originally a punishment of humiliation, mainly for women who were considered 'scolds' or who had committed some minor sexual indiscretion, or possibly failed to do the washing and ironing properly. I don't think they are currently in use. Perhaps they should be.

While I was here a re-enactment took place. A mock trial was held (by the multi-purpose Town Crier) and this woman was found guilty (surprise surprise) of disobeying her husband, or somesuch unforgivable crime.

She got a good few duckings much to the amusement of the cheering mob. I was present purely as your unbiased reporter.

Also on the harbour-front is the statue of the redoubtable Admiral Sir George Somers; he who got shipwrecked on the island in 1609 and who is credited with starting it up as a British possession.

Left: Off Ordnance Island (the original Customs House is here), across the way from King's Square, is a replica of the ship named Deliverence, one of two ships the survivors of the shipwreck built in the year after getting ashore. The other was called Patience. A good effort! This ship was a mere 57' long and looks remarkably unstable. In any event, the two ships managed to take the survivors on to Jamestown, Virginia. I think some offered to stay behind and, considering the look of this boat and likely conditions on board, I'm not at all surprised. I would have been one of them.

Right: The monument to Sir George Somers ouside the Somers Botanical Gardens. It is reputed that Sir George's heart is buried in here somewhere. He died on the island after returning from Virginia. His body was taken back to England and is buried in Dorset, his home county.

Left: The entrance to the Botanical Gardens. These circular gateways are common throughout the island. They have some significance, but I've forgotten what it is.
My able researcher has found out that these are 'Moon gates'. They are of Chinese design  and the style was imported onto the island in the late 19th century due to British interest in the Far East at the time. They are considered to bring luck to those walking through them, especially newly wed couples.

Right: St Peter's Chappell on Duke of York Street. Built in 1620, this is the oldest continuously operating Anglican church in the Western hemisphere. In the graveyard behind are buried many prominent Bermudians, including the British Governor Sir Richard Sharples who, along with his ADC and dog, was assassinated by a black power maniac in 1973. More about Governors later. There is also a separate graveyard for slaves and freed blacks. A reminder of Bermuda's segregated past.

The interior of the church is all decked out in red cedar. If you enlarge this photo you will see a lady (in red) standing in the pulpit. Actually, as I discovered, she is the cleaner.

My 'dangerously' conscientious researcher, thanks to his far reaching contacts, has found out that the lady in the pulpit is the admirable Mrs Edith Swainson who, for many years, has dusted the place every Thursday and Saturday. Well done Mrs Swainson!

This town, indeed the whole island, has more churches of various denominations, than you can shake a stick at. There is some 'house of worship' in just about every street. I can't begin to describe what they each worship or what some of the peculiar, indeed whacky, sounding religions are. All some form of Anglican, I think. No mosques.

Right: The 'Unfinished Church' to the north of the town. A grand design for a prestigious new church which was unfinished in 1874. They ran out of money. As if there weren't enough churches already, even in those days.

One of the most intriguing features of this town, and elsewhere on the island, is the preponderance of 'NO LOITERING' signs. They are everywhere. "No Loitering, Violators will be Prosecuted" they sometimes read. This raised, for me anyway, many questions (I have a previous blog detailing silly signs). For example; what, exactly constitutes 'loitering'? How long, precisely, can one hang about and at what distance from the sign before you offend? If you stop to take breath, or do up your shoelaces for too long, would that constitute 'loitering'? If caught 'loitering', what is the punishment?

Left: Me 'loitering" I suppose (apologies again for the socks). I waited for a few minutes but no sign of PC Plod rushing towards me blowing his whistle. I would probably have been 'done' for the socks as well.

At one place with a 'No Loitering' sign there was a conveniently placed seat. Perhaps if you are sitting down you are not considered to be loitering.
Anyway, being a bit baffled by this and not wishing to receive a criminal record during my stay, I went to the Tourist Information Office to get an explanation.
The lady 'info' officer to whom I painstakingly, and at great length, explained my confusion just looked at me as if I was mad. I never did find the answers. Neither was I ever arrested for loitering.

Left: An example of one of the many lavish villas on the island. This one being on the shore near St George's. Many Very Wealthy People (VWP) have similar properties here.

Right: To end this episode, a photo of some local Bermudians (I actually asked) who willingly, enthusiastically even, posed for me. I'm glad we didn't get done for 'loitering with Intent'! 

Lots more to come from around these fascinating Islands.

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