The joy of dry towels

Hello again my dear reader,

I’m on holiday at the moment, off island. It’s my first time off the little rock that is Bermuda and I think it will be interesting to record my experience, just to see how different life is in Bermuda vs the rest of the world.

So, yesterday, I had a shower in the morning and put my towel on the non-heated towel rack to dry for next time I need to use it. Then, later in the day, I washed my hands and went to dry them with my towel. I was fully expectng the towel to be still wet and yet, miraculously, it was dry! I was amazed, I had almost forgotten what it feels like to not have a wet towel constantly. In Bermuda, things don’t dry, ever. Even when you put things in te dryer, they come out damp. There is simply no way to hide from the humidity which is sometimes really oppressive and up to 80% or more. The net effect is that all my clothes can do with being out off island for a while to avoid becoming mouldy.

Another new thing I tried yesterday was to buy goods in a food store. I bought a couple of fruit salad boxes, a box of cherries,some nutsĀ  and two bags of organic apples. When I went to the counter, I calculated in my head what the price would be in Bermuda, about $10 ofr the cherries, $8 each for the apple bags, $8 each for the salad boxes and $10 for the nuts, total a whopping $52. I braced myself for the news from the till and it came up with $15! I was shocked. I asked the lady to make sure she didn’t forget anything but all was correct. So, next time they tell you about the tax rate on income being 5.75% in Bermuda, feel free to remind them that you pay a tax on everything you buy in the shop which we can affectionately call the greedy Bermudian tax. Every shop on the island has inflated its prices in one way or another to rip you off, they do it freely and brazenly. I guess the fact that there is no competition between shops is what’s causing the prices to be so ridiculous, we could do with a bit more of a market economy working in Bermuda, I’m sure.

Please check back soon for more stories from my travels and how they relate to Bermuda.

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Our first experience of the annual Cup Match holiday

Hello again my dear reader,

the weekend just gone was very relaxed. This is because it came directly after a 2-day national holiday. Yes, indeed, two days in a row. Every July, the last Thursday and Friday of the month are part of the annual Cup Match holiday. It’s hard to tell whether the holiday is because of the match or the match because of the holiday. But, the official names of the holidays are: Thursday is Emancipation Day and Friday is Somers Day. They also happen to be days 1 and 2 of the annual cricket match between the East and West sides of the island. The east is represented by the Somerset Cricket Club whereas the West is St George’s. Obviously, Emancipation Day is when we celebrate the day that slaves in Bermuda were given their freedom. Somers day is to commemorate the memory of Admiral Sir George Somers, the man who colonised Bermuda for the British in 1609.

We decided that it was too interesting to miss the Cup Match, even though neither myself, nor Jitka really care about the game of cricket. So, we joined up with some friends and went to watch the match on Friday. I have to say, it was quite fun. The ground was full (I hesitate to call it a Cricket Stadium because it looked temporary and the stands were covered by plastic sheets) and the people seemed to be having a good time. The beer and rum were flowing, people were cheering and generally having fun. One thing to note is that few people really seemed to care for the game. Most were chatting, all were dressed up, most were drinking and eating. Another thing to note is the awful cacophony of sound in the stands. Each part of the stands and each bar and gambling tent (more on this in a moment) had their own music blaring. So, at any one time you could hear 3-4 different tunes and it was near impossible to tell them apart. I found that to be the most tiring aspect of the day, even more tiring than the oppressive heat of the day.

There were a few tents set up outside the ground to feed the people and to provide alcohol, soft drinks and an opportunity to gamble. You may know that gambling is illegal in Bermuda, there are no casinos or other gambling establishments. But, during this holiday, gambling is allowed in the cricket ground. You’d think that people would wager on the outcome of the match but you’d be wrong. The only gambling that takes place seems to be the game of Hook and Anchor. I’m not 100% clear on the details of how it’s played but there is a dealer who deals from a set of suits (spades, anchors, hooks etc) and you join the table and place money on slots that bear the same emblem as the suit you’re betting on. It was interesting to watch it, people seemed to be having fun, money was definitely changing hands. There were a couple of tents and underneath each were maybe 5-6 tables where you could play. That tent looked decidedly busier than most stands…

Anyway, we didn’t stay too long, it was very hot and quite noisy. Since we didn’t feel like drinking in the heat (I was also driving), it wasn’t as much fun as it could have been. The match ended in a victory for St George’s. It started with St George’s up by quite a margin, Somerset clawed their way back into the match but then St George’s finally clinched it in the afternoon on Friday. You’d be pushed to call it a thriller but there was at least a swing in the result.

No more holidays for a while and no more 2-day ones until next year though, it was nice while it lasted…

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Jitka is famous, she’s on the Royal Gazette website!

Hello again my dear reader,

it appears that my wife has broken into fame and stardom in Bermuda. A photo of her can be seen on an article in the Royal Gazette.

Of course, the article isn’t actually about her. It’s about the discrimination that some Asians and mostly Filipinos are facing in Bermuda. Some graffiti has appeared in various places with discriminatory writings about these immigrants. So, when they went to take a photo of one of the gates on the Railway Trail, the caught the back of Jitka in the photo, running and sweating. Now, you’d think that the photographer could wait 5 seconds in order not to take a person in the photo when it wasn’t their intention. But, this is the typical care and attention to detail that happens here so Jitka got included…

It’s quite funny, check it out.

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The sun is up and the water tank full

Hello again my dear reader,

after two days of almost non-stop rain, we’re back to beautiful sunshine. It turns out that more rain fell in the last two days than in the whole of the months of May and June! This weather was a result of a tropical storm passing to the east of Bermuda, tropical storm Brent. We got lucky, it didn’t come close enough to the island to cause any damage but it still left us with enough rain to fill the water tanks. Jitka and I checked ours this morning and it’s almost full, probably 95% full. It looks like Brent will be fully passed by Thursday when the weather will turn a little drier again and slightly warmer perhaps, at least in the sun. Today is borderline sunny but still overcast so we’re still expecting more rain to come. On the plus side, I haven’t had to water the garden in the last two days, there was way too much rain to bother. Unfortunately, higher than usual winds and heavy rain don’t make for good fishing trips so I haven’t been out for a few days. I hope for the fishing to resume soon though.

One other problem that we’ve had recently is that our freezer seems to have suffered some sort of failure. It began by not keeping the temperature low enough and it’s finally died completely. So, when I go fishing, if I catch anything, we have to eat it straight away or risk having the fridge stinking of fish. At least in the freezer, the smell is removed from the freezing but, without a freezer, fishing becomes more tricky. We shall see, there is a guy coming over to look at it, maybe he will get it to work again.

Check back for more exciting stories soon!

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Looks like autumn today

Hello again my dear reader,

after a week of consistent high temperatures (high 80 F, low 30s C) and high humidity (75% and above) it appears that, in Bermuda, we are going to be treated with a short rest from the heat. Today, the temperatures have dropped significantly and looking outside the window in my office, all I see is a dark cloud that ominously threatens with rain. Still, many houses will need to fill up their tanks and a few days of relative chill will probably be just what we need to enjoy the heat when it returns once more.

On a personal level, since I’ve started running again, I will quite appreciate the break in the weather. I can tell you, running in over 30s C with high humidity and the constant undulating nature of the island is tough. I run for about an hour and return home completely drenched in sweat, not an inch of my shirt left dry. So, I’ll try to get in some runs while the weather holds out.

No fishing news, I’m afraid, the weekend was too windy, damn…

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Bermuda newspapers confuse news with advertising

Hello again my dear reader,

it’s lunchtime at work today and I opened two tabs in Firefox to read the local news from The Royal Gazette and The Bermuda Sun. It’s always interesting to read the local newspapers here in Bermuda. Sometimes they are filled with the minutiae of island life in Bermuda that seem entirely uninteresting to me. Other times, they are filled with stories of how some Bermudian person did well in something e.g. sports achievements. Most of the time, they are filled with political news (it appears that the government is losing popularity fast), crime news (Bermuda has drugs and gang violence to control) and some other lighter news items. But, all of the time they are riddled with errors that indicate a shocking lack of editorial talent and attention to detail.

But, today, the Gazette really took the biscuit. One of its 4 main stories on the website is actually an advert! I’ve never seen this before, advertising mixed in with news in such an obvious way. Here is the story in question, titled GOLD RUSH! The “reporter” (inverted commas to indicate that this is a shocking kind of journalism) starts by saying that Bermudians have been cashing in on the their gold jewellery in the recession. No serious argument is made whether this is done just because people have crappy old gold jewellery that they’re happy to part with for cash now that gold has become even safer than in the pre-recession days, no statistics is offered for the reader to make up their own mind, only one company is highlighted as buying gold and no argument is made whether this is an exclusively Bermudian trend or a worldwide one.

Am I the only one who thinks this as a blatant abuse of news space in favour of advertising? I wonder…


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Second wave of planting

Hello again my dear reader,

we have now started our second season of growing fruit and vegetables. People say that there are indeed 5 growing seasons in Bermuda due to the normally warm climate. I guess we’ll see about that.

In our second wave of planting, we planted cherry tomatoes, orange bell peppers and new Armenian-style cucumbers. We’re hoping that the cherry tomatoes will be much quicker to mature than the beef tomatoes which were teasing us for weeks before they all suddenly turned red. The bell peppers simply continue a tradition of growing peppers really well in our garden. One the one hand, they grow well and are pretty hardy and, on the other, they stay close to where they were planted. This is in vast contrast to the cucumbers and melons that like to “travel”. Our current watermelons have the fruit at a distance of at least 2m from the root of the plant. This makes growing them quite difficult logistically. When you need to take the fruit or remove the plants in order to plant something else, it’s easy to cause collateral damage by harming other nearby plants. Peppers don’t do that, they grow in a self-contained space, seem resilient to caterpillars and make juicy peppers. As for the Armenian cucumbers, I don’t know the first thing about them other than they are supposed to have less seeds than the ones we had last time and be longer. We’ll see how they grow.

Take care, check back soon for more stories from Bermuda.

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The tanks are filling up

Hello again my dear reader,

I had a weird feeling yesterday when it started to rain. Like I’ve said before, when it rains here, it pours. But, my only thought yesterday wasn’t how I was annoyed at the rain because it stopped me from doing things, it wasn’t how I was pleased to see rain because it had been roasting hot for a few days and we could do with some rest from the relentless heat and humidity, it was instead:

at least the water tank is filling up…

It’s funny when you think about it. A whole country depends exclusively on the rain for drinking water, showering, washing dishes, even for using the toilet in some cases. Jitka and I are quite lucky in that respect. Our landlady has well water which, while not potable, it fine for flushing and watering the plants so we don’t have to care about how often we flush the toilet. Apparently, other people do, those who only have rain water to depend on.

In contrast, this is what we mostly thought of the rain in London: “great, it’s back again, looks like this summer is also going to be a wash-out”. Or in Prague, “hmm, rain, only a marginal improvement on snow but if it freezes, we’re screwed”. So, all in all, we can’t complain, it’s nice to look forward to the rain, even if it is for a somewhat strange reason.

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A week of good weather

Hello again my dear reader,

it’s been a whole week of good weather for a change. It’s rained at night and sometimes in the morning but it’s been mostly hot (30C / 86F) during the day and late into the evening. Consequently, it’s been quite a busy period with more fishing and more time spent outdoors than usual. This is also why there have not been any new posts for a little while. But, with the warmer weather also comes more running and hopefully more swimming this weekend, plus a two-hour tennis session on Sunday. Busy times ahead…

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Vegetable garden producing returns, finally

Hello again my dear reader,

we have been worried recently that our vegetable garden wasn’t going to be as productive as we had planned. This was mostly due to the fact that our main interest, tomatoes, were not turning red. For weeks now, we’ve been waiting anxiously for them to ripen naturally on the vine. At the same time, the cucumbers have been producing non-stop for at least 6 weeks now. Also, we have finally picked up some melon and watermelon. We have yet to taste the watermelon but the melons were nice. Anyway, it’s been hot the last couple of days. It was 30 degrees C (86 F) inside the house so it must have been much higher than that outside. All of a sudden, loads of tomatoes have ripened naturally on the vine! So, it’s finally looking like the garden we always hoped it would be. We just need the green bell peppers to also be ready and we have the majority of a Greek salad ready from the garden! See below for new photos.

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