BBC Correspondent Sara Wheeler shares her thoughts on St Helena
British journalist and author Sara Wheeler visited St Helena in February. We ask her about the highlights from her trip…
You’re no stranger to remote places, having visited Antarctica and the Arctic Circle. How did travelling here compare?
It was a wholly different experience. Remote, but with all modern conveniences. Exotic, but comfortable.
What was your impression before you visited; did it change and how?
Like most people beyond the island I knew little except the Napoleon story. I expected a little Britain, rather like the Falklands. But I found a unique and distinctive culture that has evolved in isolation. I was surprised at the friendly atmosphere, and the hospitality of Saints. I was also amazed at the number of endemic wildlife species. I remember seeing a tiny Blushing snail on the purple-stemmed leaves of a She-cabbage, and a Jellico bush hosting a colony of popping flea beetles, both found nowhere else on earth.
What was your favourite experience during your visit to St Helena?
I enjoyed gaining sufficient confidence at the wheel to drive down Ladder Hill at dusk and watch Red-billed tropicbirds sailing up the valley, with the matching red roofs of Jamestown glimmering below.
And your favourite place on the island?
The basin between Joan Hill and South West Point, where the trade winds have twisted the thorn trees into alphabet shapes and Madagascan fodies flash through stands of scrubwoods. I picnicked there on tuna fishcakes.
Sara can be heard talking about her visit in ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday 2 June at 11.00 BST/UTC, repeated on Saturday 4 June at 11.30; Also available on BBC World Service.