Tristan da Cunha 2013 book run

While I was on Tristan da Cunha I made frequent visits to the Post Office & Tourism Centre, and also to the private enterprise the Rockhopper Shop. Both places, as well as the small craft shop within the supermarket (a/k/a the canteen) sold plenty of souvenir shirts, knitwear, postcards and so on. I was fortunate to buy five books about Tristan either while I was on the island or headed to it. Here are my Tristan book purchases:


Dr. Peter Ryan is an ornithologist who travelled with me aboard the Agulhas II. He was frequently seen at the Agulhas bow taking pictures of birds with a camera that had a lens as big as a cannon fitted onto the end of it. As we sailed deeper into the Atlantic, bird sightings became less frequent. On 10 September some scientists and researchers gave short presentations about their work at sea, or their upcoming projects on Nightingale Island or Gough Island. Dr. Ryan gave the most interesting lecture on conservation and the effect of pollution on the birds of the Tristan archipelago. He edited as well as contributed to Field Guide to the Animals and Plants of Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island, a book I bought on board the Agulhas from Dr. Ryan himself (he had a box of them in his cabin). He signed it for me. I have used this field guide to identify all the bird and plant species I saw on Tristan and Nightingale. Also aboard the Agulhas were seal researchers Dr. Marthán Bester and his wife Wendy. Marthán also contributed to the book and he signed it for me as well. Early on into the voyage, while I was in the ship’s dining saloon, Wendy heard me talking and wondered where I came from. She recognized my southern Ontario accent, because she herself was from Guelph (Ontario)! She had been living in South Africa for well over twenty years and she still had her southern Ontario accent.


I read many books about Tristan and its idiom of English before this trip. Daniel Schreier and Karen Lavarello-Schreier, the authors of Tristan da Cunha and the Tristanians may sound familiar, as they are also the authors of Tristan da Cunha: History, People, Language, which is in fact an earlier edition of this book. The first edition from 2003 was 88 pages yet the update from 2011 was expanded to 136 pages. I brought the earlier edition with me since Karen was going to be aboard the Agulhas and I wanted to talk to her about the book and get it autographed. She signed it for me in the front, as well as next to her photo in the double-page spread of photos of Islanders. I fell over myself in politeness asking the other islanders to sign their name next to their own photos, but not everyone wanted to so I didn’t push it. Karen’s husband Daniel was not travelling with her and remained at home in Basel, Switzerland. I had also read Daniel’s book on the Tristanian idiom of English, Isolation and Language Change: Contemporary and Sociohistorical Evidence from Tristan da Cunha English.


Tristan da Cunha: Glimpses into past history is a short book full of vibrant illustrations and photos throughout the island’s history.


In 2006 Tristan da Cunha celebrated its quincentenary and fortunately there were still copies of this oversize commemorative hardcover magazine for sale in the tourism centre. It was packed with high quality colour photos. The cover shows the Settlement from 600 m above on the edge of the Base. All that black is the lava from the 1961 eruption. Look how close it came to the houses. I climbed to the Base from a different location on my last full day on the island.


A Short Guide to Tristan da Cunha was the last of the five books I bought while on Tristan and was written by two Tristanians, former Chief Islander James Glass and Head Teacher Anne Green.

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