Archive | June, 2011

A Ramble in the Jungle

17 Jun

Shortly after we’d arrived in Bermuda, I bought a copy of Lonely Planet’s guide to the island for a dollar in a second-hand shop. I thought it would be useful for our visitors over the coming year. It didn’t really occur to me that it might be useful for us to read. I’d presumed that, as we were living here, we would see and hear about places to go. But, for some reason, Bermuda doesn’t seem to work this way.

As I mentioned in my last post, Rich and I have made a conscious vow to be better tourists in our local area. So last weekend I pulled out the guide books and maps, and started planning.

An hour later we began our ramble through Tom Moore’s Jungle. Tom Moore was a 19th century Irish poet who lived in Bermuda in the early 1800s. His jungle has reportedly remained in the same condition as the rest of Bermuda was 400 years ago, giving an idea of the island’s raw beauty, before tarmac and cement came along and cut chunks of nature away to accommodate modern man’s needs.

Our ramble to begin with reminded me of our lovely walks that we used to take in the Hampshire forests; lots of dappled sunlight and shiny green leaves. We strolled along the worn path, breathing in the warm air and enjoying the relaxing stroll, until the path ended abruptly with a drop of about ten feet. Rich being brave and nimble and long-legged hopped down the rocks with ease. After a few attempts of going down frontways, then backways, I settled for the ever-so-graceful sliding down on my bum approach. To be honest, I nearly waved the white flag and suggested we go to the beach instead. But I’m so glad I persevered, because we found an absolute gem of a sight shortly afterwards.

As some of the trees cleared, there on the left was a large cave. We headed in cautiously and stopped, our breaths snatched away and lodged somewhere in between the hundreds of huge stalagtites. There was a pool of beautiful blue, still water – an underground lake. And here it was, just sitting in the jungle. There was no $15 dollar entry fee, or queue to get in, or gift shop at the end with cuddly stalagmites for sale (not sure they actually sell those, but you get my point). We felt like explorers who had just discovered a new bit of land. We vowed to come back another time and take a swim.

Thankfully our ramble back was much easier to navigate – no bum sliding manoeuvres or clinging onto branches for dear life – and we found another (outdoor) lake filled with crystal-clear water and tropical fish, just pootling around, flashing their electric blue fins and stripy tails. Another gem just waiting to be discovered! And it was so much more rewarding to find these things on our own – without signposts or marshals or roped off bollards to guide us there.

If you’re in Bermuda and want to ramble through Tom Moore’s Jungle, make your way to Flatt’s Village (where the Aquarium is) and take a right onto Harrington Sound Road (if coming from the west of the island). If you’re coming from the east, turn off by the Swizzle Inn towards Crystal Caves, follow the road past the Crystal Caves and keep going.

The turning is marked by two pillars either side of the road and is signposted Tom Moore’s Tavern. If you want to take our adventurous bum-sliding route, park at the Nature Reserve sign and take the path right by the sign. The path will come to a fork – we went left. If you prefer the idea of staying on your feet the whole time, park in the Tom Moore’s Tavern car park, and take the path which is found on the left, past the bike parking area (as you are looking at the Tavern from the front). When you get to a Y junction, take the left path and this will lead you round to the cave. Happy rambling!


Fasting, Feasting

13 Jun

Getting friendly with Yoshi the dolphin at Discovery Cove

We’re back from a wonderful holiday! Lots of adventure combined with lots of relaxation – just what we needed. We hurled ourselves down water flumes, shopped till our feet hurt, played some over-competitive crazy golf on no less than five courses, and flew through the air on a range of rollercoasters. We balanced all this with hot stone spa treatments, a swim with a pair of gorgeous and gentle dolphins, a sunset cruise along the highway and midnight dips in the pool, with the stars twinkling above us as we floated on our backs. We had a week of peaceful and selfish time together, and then a week of silliness and stomach-ache laughter with my cousins. It was bliss!

This was my first time off of the island in seven months – a period which our expat friends gasped at (“Seven months?! You’ve not left Bermuda in SEVEN months?!) I explained the notion of Rock Fever in my last post, and I was definitely ready for an antidote.

In Florida we banished our Fever almost instantly, stretching our legs and breathing in the freedom of the sprawling USA. We gorged ourselves on choice and space, like a pair of battery hens that had just been let loose into a wide open field. We had two weeks to make the most of it, so we did what we fancied, ate where we liked and enjoyed little indulgences that we wouldn’t grant ourselves at home, because, well, we were on holiday!

Rich spent a lot of the holiday picking up the local birds...

On the flight home, I flicked idly through the complimentary Bermuda magazine, written with tourists in mind. I was surprised to read about places I’d never heard of – nature trails, pubs in the capital, events at the Harbour… On this tiny island, how had I missed these? I thought again about our holiday – how for those two weeks we had feasted, not just on the food but on the country, the culture, the sights and the experiences. In Bermuda, we’d being doing the opposite. We’d been fasting; looking at our new home through the eyes of a cautious resident rather than an indulgent tourist. Maybe we needed to tip the scales a little? Could some of my Rock Fever have been self-imposed? Perhaps we needed to explore new places rather than stick to old stomping grounds. Living in Bermuda is wonderful because there’s a holiday waiting for you just outside your doorstep. And its beauty is free – we can be indulgent tourists at the beaches, and parks, and nature reserves without parting with a penny.

So our mid-year resolution is this: to slap on our sun cream and take our maps and guide books into our local area and see it anew. I’ll blog our new discoveries as we go!