AN IT contractor from Stroud has just returned from the world’s most remote inhabited island - 1,500 miles off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa.
It takes seven days to get to Tristan da Cunha by ship and the seven-mile patch of land is 1,200 miles from the nearest inhabited island of Saint Helena, where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled by the British.
Martin King has spent the last eight months on the island, a British overseas territory, to train a team of islanders in new telecommunications concepts.
Tristan is part of a group of volcanic islands also called Tristan da Cunha, which includes the Nightingale islands, Inaccessible and the Gough islands.
The archipelago is home to 267 people, 23 of whom are children, who can all date their surnames back to the 1800s and the community is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year.
Martin told the SNJ that although it was difficult to reach, with only eight ships making the trip to the island each year, islanders were not entirely cut off.
“There is a very very limited internet system and you can’t use any social media although they do have a cut down version of Facebook,” said the father of two.
“There are three TV channels - BBC1, ITV1 and a mixed channel.
“And they can call anywhere in the world as the call goes through an exchange in London so they have 0203 numbers.”
During his stint on the island Martin said what he missed most, apart from his wife and children, was eating fresh fruit and vegetables.
“The supermarket is open during working hours and you can pre-order your food a month in advance but there are about two or three months between the eight ships which come to the island each year,” he said.
“I once ordered about a dozen oranges but when they were gone they were gone.
“They have a lot of fish, beef and mutton but not lamb because it’s more effective to eat mutton.
“The area is called the potato patches because the vegetable is a staple and they also export lobster.”
To Martin Tristan reminded him of a 1950s Welsh village because of the wet weather.
He was struck by the close community between the islanders who would leave their doors open when they were out.
The technology rehab was also an aspect of life there which he welcomed, with Wi-Fi only available to use in the evenings.
But although Martin admitted he was quite keen on “living the good life” he also said that it was nice to have a takeaway with his family on his return to Stroud and not having to cook everything from scratch.
And he would go back to work there again, “in a couple of years perhaps to keep improving their Telecomms system,” he said.