We arrived back on Camomile Saturday 9th July after a wonderful 3 weeks in the UK. As usual we hit the ground running and I spent the first day unpacking, putting away my nicely washed and ironed clothes, disentangling Bill’s bits from all 4 bags and repacking winter clothes back in the bags so they could go back under the bed.
Sunday we started cleaning because the marina is under the flight path and the deck was covered in fuel particles from the plane’s engines. Unusually I also had mildew growing in some areas of the boat which, in all our time in the tropics, we haven’t had before. We then moved Camomile out of the expensive marina to Victoria bay which is right by the town. There are a number of buoys there and we picked one up at
They don’t cost anything but you need to ask the locals if it belongs to anyone or you could find yourself being asked to move. Anchoring isn’t very good here although we managed to get our anchor to stick on the first night.
Monday morning we went ashore to join the yacht club. For 125rupees (about £7) for the week you can use the (hot!) shower, dump your rubbish, use their water to fill water jugs or do washing and leave your dinghy safely on their pontoon, good value really. The next job was shopping because there wasn’t anything on the boat to eat after our time in Chagos and the UK and its very expensive eating out here, although the YC does some reasonably priced meals. The big supermarket is a 10 minute walk out of town so with a trolley each we went to stock up.
Tuesday I decided to restart my joggy trots. I haven’t been able to run for months because I’ve had a ‘planters’ heal which was very painful although it’s finally stopped hurting but mainly because it’s been too hot. There’s a little park overlooking the boats so I did a couple of circuits of that. We spent the rest of the day on board because we’ve both developed colds, probably from the plane, and Bill’s is developing into man flu with an infected eye and ear. That evening Jacqui and Kevin of Tintin moored next to us invited us on board for drinks to welcome us back. It was nice to relax and chat for a few hours.
Wednesday we played tourist for the day and did the walking tour around Victoria. It was founded on this spot by the French in 1778 and called L’Etablissement because of its excellent natural harbour with shelter provided by St Anne and neighbouring islands. After the British captured the Seychelles in 1812 the little capital was given its English name in 1841 in honour of Queen Victoria. Many of the population today is trilingual with French being the main language but English and Creole is widely spoken too.
The clock tower in the centre is the very symbol of Victoria. It was erected as a memorial to Queen Victoria who died in 1901 but it took until 1903 to reach the Seychelles. The clock arrived in kit form and, in a mishap during unloading, the pendulum was dropped over the side of the ship. Despite a makeshift substitute being made locally the chime was disabled.
Most of Victoria east of the clock tower has been built on reclaimed land. We walked down Francis Rachel street which was once the waterfront and many of the old buildings still survive here. One such building is Kenwyn house. It is one of the best preserved 19th century buildings in Victoria. Apart from the architecture of the building itself it contains some beautiful art work from local artists. There were several pieces Bill and I liked but the price tags were way beyond our budget. This lovely little fountain was in the garden.
The Seychelles gained independence from the British in 1976 and the road built on reclaimed land leading from the clock tower is named Independence avenue. At the end of the road is a roundabout with the Bicentennial Monument known as Trwa Zwazo (three birds) erected in 1978 to celebrate 200 years of human settlement in Seychelles. Each ‘bird’ represents one of the continents in the blood of the Seychellois: Europe, Africa and Asia. Do they look like birds?
Back to the clock tower again and a walk north on Albert street, also part of the original sea front, to find this very colourful building on the corner of Market street.
Market street, part of the old town and pedestrianised, leads to the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke market named in honour of a former governor. We had a quick look around but weren’t shopping today.
Church street leads from Market street to the roman catholic cathedral named Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Little remains of the original building dating from 1874, having been rebuilt in granite is 1933.
One of the original doors has been fitted to a side entrance.
I love old churches and this one was beautifully kept. The stain glassed windows were striking. It was wonderfully cool inside.
Part of the original clock tower was set on the hill behind the cathedral.
One of Victoria’s most impressive buildings, the Catholic priests’ Residence, Capuchin House stands beside the cathedral. That was the end of the walk but on the other side of the cathedral is an orphanage and these dear little ones were sitting outside the cathedral with their house mother. Their ages range from 18 months to 3 years, I just wanted to take them all home they were adorable.
On Thursday we had another tourist day with Tintin and got on a bus. Public transport is very reasonable here. It costs 5 rupees (about 30p) a ride whether you go one stop or all around the island. We headed out of town on the Bel Air road passing the oldest cemetery in the Seychelles. Here lie some of the pioneers of the settlement of Seychelles. Leading onto the Sans Souci road it twists and turns upward. We got off by the Mission historical ruins to visit the viewpoint erected for the state visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1972 on her tour of the Commonwealth Nations. Often there are misty clouds shrouding the mountain tops but today we were lucky and had a good view out across the islands, although the trees have grown a bit in 44 years.
We all walked back down the road to the Copolia walk which took us about half an hour. The scenery was stunning as we walked passed endemic palms, trees and screwpines. The traffic was very infrequent so it was a pleasant walk.
The Copolia is only about a mile in length but is uphill using tree roots as steps along with steps cut out of the granite. There were many wild flowers growing along the way, not unlike Scotland although about 20C warmer!
We were told it was a 45 minute walk but it took us a good hour and a half but we finally made it to the top and what a stunning view.
One of the reasons to come to the top, apart from the view, was to see the Nepenthes genus of pitcher plants. Of 70 species in total all but two are in south east Asia. The exceptions are in Seychelles and Madagascar. They were quite small and grew in clumps on top of the mountain.
As we looked down to the north we could see Camomile and Tintin in the harbour.
In front of us to the east was Eden island with Norsa sitting in the marina.
In this panoramic shot the airport is off to the south (right of the photo) and the islands of the St Anne national marine park beyond the marina.
That was where we headed the following week and took this photo. The peak we were standing on is in the middle of the photo.
My final photo taken on the mountain is of one of the many cairns that have been built in memory of loved ones. The walk back down wasn’t as difficult but still took us nearly an hour.
Unfortunately the bus stop was another 20 minutes down the road so we had to walk to that before our poor feet and knees had a rest. These dear little school children joined us on the journey back down the hill.
We spent the rest of the week trying to shake off our colds.