Every now and again there's no getting away from it: the files have to be cleared out. It's a horrible job on the whole but occasionally there's a jog of memory with the pleasure that brings with it. This happened last night (I do the files while watching the telly - makes it a bit less of a chore and saves wasting time in office hours). I was back in 2003 (who says I keep my files up to date!) and discovered a hand-written "thing" which I'd penned. I wanted to share it with you because it's made me think it's high time I re-introduced a certain two-centre holiday. Here goes:
"There's been an air of expectancy for the past few days, stronger earlier than now, strangely. RMS, due in at 4 p.m. is running a bit late. Sighs of resignation echo round Georgetown as word goes round: everyone's going to have to work late tonight.
I suppose I really should stop here and announce a "Where am I?" competition. But no - let's go on. I got here from RAF Brize Norton on Monday morning. Three times previously I'd landed here en route to the Falkland Islands and been teased by spending one and a half hours on the ground but never seeing anything of the island. This time it would be different.
The tropical warmth which hit as I stepped off the plane was welcome in November, albeit we'd had an excceptionally mild autumn with no hint of winter before I left.
Ascension Island is just 7 degrees south of the Equator and lies in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean whose waves beat the shores. A blowhole we visited on the north coast was seriously dramatic.
I knew to expect a volcanic island and, having seen it from the air and the airhead (as its known), I wasn't anticipating outstanding beauty. Nor was I expecting to be utterly captivated by this dramatic, powerful landscape.
The stopover was for four nights and this simply wasn't long enough to do justice to the wealth of possibilities. Tourism hasn't infected the island with its negative rip-off side, and people take pleasure in sharing their knowledge with you. As I sit outside writing a little before dinner, I have to look up every time a vehicle goes past and wave - not to do so would be the height of bad manners. A mynah bird is calling in a nearby tree, a warm breeze is fanning me and sometehing in the atmosphere tells me that the RMS has been sighted.
RMS? Yes the Royal Mail Ship, that amazing mail vessel which serves St Helena and plies the seas between that island, Cape Town and Ascension, occasionally calling in the UK and just once a year going to Tristan da Cunha, arguably one of the most remote, inaccessible islands in the world. (Note: this was in 2003 - she no longer calls at the UK and goes to Tristan once in a blue moon.)
Yes, she's arrived. Mervyn has just driven past in the Obsidian Hotel minibus en route for the pierhead to meet the expectant passengers with his warmth and professionalism.
So much more to say - turtles, seabirds, history, BBC relay stations and so on. The best way to find out more is most definitely NOT to visit www.whatever but to come and see for yourself."
The joy of it is that 10 years later we're still taking people to Ascension and St Helena and, very occasionally Tristan da Cunha. Check out the South Atlantic page on our website. Reading this again last night gave me an idea. It's ages since we did an Ascension/Falklands holiday and so I'm going to put one together, probably for November 2014 or January/February 2015. Unfortunately you can't stop over without paying for the empty leg on the RAF flight but it's a price worth paying. Keep an eye on our website to see what I come up with or sign up for our newsletter through said website. And thank you for letting me share my first impression of this incredible island and an experience which led me to introducing the Royal Mail Ship and St Helena to our programme and adding a whole new dimension to my life.