Tag Archives: Bermuda snags

Four-legged friends: dogs on Bermuda

The first dog was landed on Bermuda in 1609, and was probably a Spaniel called “Finder” or “Salty”: the ship’s dog of the Sea Venture. I don’t actually know the name, those are guesses based on the fact that medieval dogs were frequently named on characteristics. Ship’s dogs were used for retrieving things lost overboard, taking messages between ships, and hunting when ashore. Most definitely working dogs. The main need for a working dog on Bermuda in 2015 would probably be a drug-sniffing dog at the airport – they did have one when we first arrived but I haven’t seen him since. Neither have I seen any Guide Dogs for blind persons. But there are plenty of dogs on the island, most living quiet and happy lives, but some reaching headlines every now and then.

So what do you do if you want a dog on Bermuda?

Two websites might be sensible starting points:

Bermuda SPCA: http://www.spca.bm

Government regulations on animals: http://www.animals.gov.bm/portal/server.pt

If you are coming to live on the island and already own a dog then you will need an import certificate, a microchip and vaccinations.

The import certificate must be dated no earlier than 10 days before landing your dog and to get this document you will need a health certificate for the dog, original vaccination certificates and evidence of tick and flea treatment on the day of examination. There are no quarantine regulations, but certain countries of origin require a minimum of two rabies vaccines and certificates to confirm no contact with foot and mouth within previous 30 days. The government website suggests that dogs less than 10 months old do not qualify for entry onto Bermuda, but it is unclear whether this applies to dogs from UK.

Dogs and cats are subject to import customs duties: 25% plus a 1.1% wharfage fee. Now this is based on the value of the dog so you will need original evidence of the purchase of the dog and price paid.

There are dog breeders on the island, however, and there is a pet shop in Hamilton with the most adorable puppies. (For my RSPCA friends I am not advocating buying puppies for pet shops, just commenting on their cuteness). The SPCA have dogs “looking for forever homes” but they also comment that they have a long waiting list for adopting dogs.

However you acquire the dog, it will need a licence which is $25 per year if the dog is neutered but $115 per year if not. Unlicensed dogs may be destroyed.

Like UK, there are certain breeds of dog that are banned on Bermuda. It is far too sensitive an issue for me to venture into but just to state, pit-bull dogs are prohibited and will be dealt with harshly if found unlicensed on the island. In 2012 the newspaper revealed there were 1300 unlicensed pit-bulls on the island – but given these dogs are kept below the radar I have doubts about the validity of the figure.

There are some rules you will need to be aware of:

  • Dogs must be kept on a leash
  • Dogs are not allowed on beaches during Summer months, 1st April to 31st September.
  • Special permits are needed of you have more than 2 dogs on your premises.  Note that “premises” includes other households on the plot and requires the landlords permission. This multi-dog permit is specific to the dogs, owner and the address.
  • There are fines for being found in breach of these rules : $50 for an unleashed dog, $100 for a stray dog and $200 for a noisy barking dog, which requires only one neighbour to make a complaint.

Now I have owned dogs, and numerous other pets alongside the children, but I am not sure dogs are really a good idea on Bermuda, or indeed that Bermuda is best set up for dogs. It can be VERY hot, there aren’t acres of fields and parks for exercise and the dog can never run free. But thats just my opinion and I am sure there are hundreds of responsible dog owners who will work around the particular problems posed by Bermuda-life.

My landlord has an amusing story of his dog being taken to court for chasing ducks across Harrington Sound onto land owned by the Zoo … I cannot tell it like he does, but he had me in stitches of amazed disbelief.

Useful contacts for dog-owners:

Hermione, my first dog

Hermione, my first dog

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Bermuda for the mobility-impaired visitor

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Last week I discovered how difficult Bermuda can be for visitors with any degree of impaired mobility – my mother-in-law came to stay. We actually had a lovely week but not without some problems and disappointments relating to accessibility.

Although Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory it is not covered by any of the British discrimination acts (Equality Act, 2010) and the island has no protective equivalent to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). It seems that if not compulsory then many businesses are slow to make provision for the disabled and this includes tourist attractions.

Arrival
But first a word of praise: The staff of both British Airways and Bermuda Airport were excellent.
We pre-booked a wheelchair for both ends, wondering if it might be a bit over-the-top since in normal day-to-day UK life she only occasionally uses a stick, but of course sometimes the distances and obstacles one encounters at an airport would challenge even a triathlete. The “with-wheelchair” status was as good as a “beat-the-queues” ticket at Disney World and we were prioritised at immigration and offered help retrieving our luggage. The Bermudian welcome was outstanding.

Now that stick that I mentioned – well in case it “wasn’t permitted” as hand luggage it had not made its way into the packing and so one of the first things we had to do was to find a stick. It isn’t as easy as one might hope but the pharmacy in St George’s offered a small choice and the one I purchased was collapsible, adjustable and right-handed – perfect.

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Hamilton
For those who don’t know, Hamilton is on a hill and the only flat street is probably Front Street. I learned that
HILL + HEAT + HUMIDITY = NO-WAY
The slope up from City Hall to the Cathedral is deceptive, it is a good job that churches tend to be cool inside. If you then want to walk down to the harbour, Burnaby Street is steep – Queen Street is more gentle, but even that on the way up is hard-going. We did find a lift in the Wellington Centre which delivers you to three steps up from the Reid Street level which can be achieved with the wheelchair lift beside the steps. Many of the shops, however, could not be easily navigated, the old buildings have multiple levels and steps in all sorts of places, only some of those steps with hand rails.

St George’s
I volunteer for Bermuda National Trust and would like to say nice things but neither of their museums in St George’s are accessible to the mobility-impaired visitor. Tucker House has several steps at the entrance with more inside and The Globe Rogues and Runners displays are all on the upper level. Even more disappointing was St Peter’s Church – a long steep flight of steps at the front with no handrails and although they have a rear entrance through the graveyard, the road behind, Church Lane, is resident-parking only, and I could hardly leave my Mother-in-law balancing on her stick or perched on a gravestone while I parked ¼ mile away. Water Street and Kings Square are accessible, but elsewhere in the town take care with uneven surfaces, lack of pavements and narrow roads.

Dockyard
This visit was a success until we reached the Commissioner’s House – or, more accurately, didn’t reach it. There are two slopes up – one narrow but steep, the other wide … but steep. Having been there before I did know this but was disappointed that it wasn’t mentioned as we paid our steep (!) entrance fees – after all the entrance is for the Museum of Bermuda and most of that museum is IN the Commissioner’s House.

I shall simplify things and give you a list, since I guess some of you reading this will have landed here considering a trip to Bermuda with a mobility impaired traveller:

Not accessible:
Crystal Caves – probably obvious that there are no elevators in old caves!
Fort St Catherine – on three levels with lots of stairs, possible entrance to one level by wheelchair
Alexandra Battery – view from ground level only
St David’s Lighthouse – again probably obvious, some views from outside.
Admiralty House Park – steep slope and steps
Commissioner’s House
Sea Glass Beach
Most of South Shore beaches
Spittal Pond – uneven and hilly
Warwick Pond
Abbot’s Cliff – too steep, no path
Ferry Point Park and Martello Tower – ground too uneven

Manageable with help:
Ferry Point Park – rough uneven ground
Paget Marsh – boardwalk slippery after rain and no clear path across the grass to the start
John Smith’s Bay – parking and ramp down to sand
Elbow Beach – if accessed via hotel grounds; public access by steps only
Botanical Gardens – some parts accessible on level ground; wheelchair with “pusher”
Some parts of Railway Trail – but parking a problem
Fort Hamilton – steps to access views of city, cannot access moat path
City Hall
Sessions House
Verdmont – ground floor only
Shelly Bay
Blue Hole Park – first part only
Bermuda Historical Society Museum – ground floor only
Good access:
Spanish Point Park – gentle walk, wheelchair suitable; view the Floating Dry Dock
Gibb’s Lighthouse – at least good for ground level, great views, can park close by
Masterworks – ramp down to entrance, lift inside, toilets on ground floor
Front Street
Aquarium and Zoo
The best place we visited was the Aquarium and Zoo where the paths were well kept and easy to navigate, the ground generally level and wash rooms accessible. Masterworks might have come a close second but they were closed for changing the exhibit, and rather frustratingly did not inform the “Nothing to do in Bermuda” website which is where most attractions and activities are listed.

Transport is an issue if you are not staying with residents who have a car –
Buses do not have wheelchair ramps and because there are few pavements in most instances you will have to mount 1-2 steps to get on the bus
Taxis are often mini-vans requiring a step up
Ferries – not all are suitable for disabled passengers
There is no car rental permitted on the island
Mobility scooters are not permitted on the roads
Pavements are random, will disappear or change sides frequently
Roads are narrow, windy and hilly, not very suitable for pedestrians

So if you are considering Bermuda for a mobility-impaired visitor it will need some careful planning and you may not be able to experience some of the attractions.

Once we understood the issues we had a good time, we thought ahead and did a lot of “drive-by” sightseeing. Clearly a success as planning a second visit next year.IMG_0623

Out and About

Who would give you a car wash for your birthday?

Who would give you a car wash for your birthday?

 

I had the car washed this morning – one of those that pulls you through which is always a scary experience. As a new customer I was given this leaflet and I must say I had never thought of buying someone a carwash as a birthday present.  I have to thank Chuck because I have inherited his unused points and points can be exchanged for soapsuds 🙂

 

 

 

 

Camouflaged zebra

Camouflaged zebra

 

Outside my husband’s office they have resurfaced the road and this is how they have reinstated the pedestrian crossing!

 

 

 

 

 

Car park round the back

Car park round the back 

 

Just up from here, I think it might be called Park Road, there is the junction where you fail a driving test: coming from Wesley Street you turn right into what looks like a one way street but for about 15 feet it is two-way and if you don’t pull over to the left, well, sorry, you have just failed.

😦

 

 

 

 

From a tourist guide book 1952

From a tourist guide book 1952

 

or get her a pink bike?

 

Bus stop

  Bus stop

Maybe not suited for wheelchairs

Maybe not suited for wheelchairs

 

North Shore Road, outside a primary school – double buggy not such a good idea!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chainlink

Chainlink

Airbrick

Airbrick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do the guns point inland?      Alexandra Battery

Why do the guns point inland? Alexandra Battery

Old fire hydrant

Old fire hydrant

New fire hydrant

New fire hydrant

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaking tree

Leaking tree

 

Paget Marsh is a boardwalk through dense vegetation, a nature reserve run by the Bermuda National Trust.

 

 

 

Aerial roots

Aerial roots

 

 

 

 

 

 

No door

No door

Locks?

Locks?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No self-respecting girl...

No self-respecting girl…

Clothes to pack 1952 Travel Guide to Bermuda

Clothes to pack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kiskadee

Kiskadee

Does Technology Work on Bermuda?

When we first arrived on the island we were warned that the internet disappears when it rains – I am gullible, but this did seem a little far-fetched.  I don’t spend $$ on fast cars, designer handbags, gourmet dining, but I do like to have the latest technology so internet and its accompanying gadgetry is high on my personal triangle of needs (Maslow)

I have in the past been frequently disappointed – our flat in SW London struggles to reach speeds of 1Mbit/s and subsequently if you ask the Smart TV or computer to stream the latest Sherlock Holmes the response is a resounding ‘I don’t think so’ – a wheel of dots as it tries to buffer something out of the ether, a rainbow of inactivity before it understands the impossibility of your request and concludes: ‘Computer says No‘ (Little Britain) . This particular technology-hates-me-situation is inexplicable – across the road they have an Infinity of options  – somehow our building, despite being almost new, adjacent to a major rail station, and most definitely within the M25, sits in a ditch of no reception, is wired to the wrong cabinet and lacks the necessary cabling.  I keep hoping things will improve but it is nearly four years now and even the local MP has failed to make connections.

I suppose if London cannot manage fast broadband then a remote island in the Atlantic might struggle. Sadly, it does, and while not all technology falls into the Bermuda Triangle, some does and so we have had to be inventive in finding solutions.

The services providing broadband are Bermuda Telephone Company, Cable Vision,  Digicell and TeleBermuda and Logic Communications.  It is complicated though and we currently have the broadband cabling by Cable Vision with the broadband supply from Logic (or is it the other way round?)  This two-company provision leads to each blaming the other for any problem, what in medicine would be called Collusion of Anonymity after Balint.  I experienced this in the first few weeks – the problem was no internet: Cable Vision claimed that as we had TV it was not on their side while Logic claimed their signal was reaching our home so it was not their problem … several phone calls, trips to exchange equipment, waiting in queues, visiting technology departments in out-of-the-way places … in the end it was actually both of them, we had the wrong modem from CableVision and the wrong service from Logic.  One day later, all sorted. So far so good.

There is a whole shelf of gadgets that comes with this  – the cable plugs into a modem that connects to a router (you rent the modem but need your own router – and when you go to buy one remember it is called a ROWTER not a ROOTER) and the TV needs to be connected via a  box called Explorer 8300HD, a DVR that you rent from Cable Vision for $55 per month. 

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We have added to this: a region 1 DVD player for US DVDs, a region 2 Bluray player for UK DVDs, a PAL-NTSC converter to ensure the region 2 DVD player can communicate with the American Plasma TV, HDMI leads and an HDMI switch because our TV only has one HDMI input, a Soundbar for better music quality and another switch because the laptop and Blu Ray player have to connect separately to the speaker and most recently (as in this week) we have bought a neat little box to stream films (note these are called movies). We probably need a cooling cabinet for all this kit!

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It might sound as if I know what I am talking about – the reality is I have a son “in IT” and he has endless patience with my stupid questions.  I think even he began to get grumpy when I asked him to solve the issue of no Netflix on the WDTV streamer – I forget the 4 hour time difference and sometimes that he has a job of his own.

So far you probably cannot see the problem of technology in Bermuda – it sounds as if we have it all sorted.  This has taken almost 9 months to get this far – acquiring the kit is not easy when Amazon only ship books to Bermuda and there are only one or two shops selling the hardware. When my husband needed a new laptop he had the choice of just one, or a wait of maybe a few weeks and pay import duties and shipping. By shipping they do actually mean on a ship – these arrive on a regular basis but container contents are somewhat random.

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There are four shops in Hamilton that sell computing stuff: The Complete Office (don’t judge them by the website, they are great help in the shop, but maybe web-design not their strength), PTech, run by the Phoenix group,  AF Smith (mainly accessories) or iClick, the authorised Apple reseller.  There are some places further out of town that I haven’t been to – one in Bakery Lane called RedLaser and another I have driven past on the way to the wine wholesale place.  The main four are all to be found at the lower end of Reid Street, useful that they are close, but it doesn’t mean you have the degree of choice that say Currys PC World can offer. I treated myself to a new iMac so   the retail outlet was obvious, but they only had one model of the size I was interested in and only one in stock!  That is the relevant word – stock – it is difficult for the shops to carry stock, old models may not sell and cannot easily be returned to manufacturer so while they will always order an IT item for you they are most unlikely to have what you want in the store room when you want it. There is an outlet called PriceRight in Pembroke Parish where they stock just out of fashion models of TVs, DVD players etc. but you will need research the particular models yourself and their stock is totally random.

Having purchased enough kit to put a significant drain on the electricity grid (and remember you need transformers for any British equipment brought over here as the voltage is 110 not 240) you then have to decide what services you want.  Before we really understood what American TV is like we had set up the full Monty when it came to channels and programme options – now we know a little better and really all we actually wanted was HD and Movie channels without adverts.  The wonderful thing about the Explorer 8300HD is that it will pause play, so I can top up my glass of wine without missing the film, and record films when we are watching something else.  With that we have managed 9 months of films, many we have not before seen and some we will not watch again, but it has worked well. I can’t say I have grown used to American TV, I find myself opting for BBC America for the comfort of familiarity.

Our latest trial (in all its meanings) has been Netflix – introduced when my daughter visited and after much nagging from my son.  So I paid for a subscription and my computer is happy to access the limited selection available on the island  – Netflix seem to think we are part of South America  – subtitle options just Brazilian Portugese or Spanish!  But then my husband brought home the new pet, a WDTV box that is to replace my ever-so-old-and-slow laptop and Netflix won’t talk to this box 😦

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We have found a solution that involves iTunes, conversion software and memory sticks and now for around $400 we have succeeded in watching a whole episode from Firefly – we are happy:)

To answer your question – yes it works, but you need some creative thinking and will end up with a lot of remotes.

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Formica

I woke to freshly brewed “proper” coffee and the question “Where’s the baby powder?”
Post-dream disorientation took me back 25+ years: babies, nappies, feeding, changing… let me go back to sleep, please. But now we keep baby powder for the ants.

The ants have found their way into the kitchen. 20130702-115541.jpg

This isn’t actually my kitchen, the kitchen ants are not photogenic, these ones are to be found on the path outside, every day running back an forth along an invisible scented line.

They are quite small, well of course ants are, but to me they appear smaller then the UK ants. Pheidole megacephala – big-headed brown house ant. Like the English ants it is a member of the Formica family (nothing to do with laminate worktops) but the Bermudan ants seem to have two-segment waists while UK ones have single segment middles (petioles).

Until today I had no idea there are so many different ants:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ants_of_Great_Britain

The “bigheads” were first found in Mauritius and its a long way to Bermuda so I guess they travel well; in fact it is listed in the top 100 most invasive species. There are two types of worker ants in this species: Soldier ants with the biggest heads, about 4mm long, and Minor worker ants that are half the size and whose heads are relatively smaller. I think the ones in my photo above must be minor workers as none of them seem to have large heads. They feed on dead insects – I have been advised that they will congregate around dead cockroaches but that I should first trace the line of ants back to their nest before moving the cockroach and then spray the nest.

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Wellcome Images

I am told you can still buy DDT in Bermuda; banned in US in 1970s and UK in 1984, but still manufactured in India and still used to fumigate homes in some places in the world.
For the medical audience, it works by opening sodium channels in neurons, which for the ants means spasms and death. The toxic effects on humans include endocrine effects, it is an anti-androgen, and direct effects on the genes, hence is a carcinogen. The DDT story is as much political as it is science and the ban is as controversial as its continued use in some countries. Paul Mueller, a Swiss biochemist, received a Nobel prize in 1948 for his work on DDT and it did prevent millions of deaths from Malaria.

The following have all been recommended to me to get rid of ants:

Mint leaves…. apparently they dont like the smell
Cayenne pepper….the capsaicin in cayenne pepper is an irritant to ants
Baby powder….the cornstarch in baby powder is irritant
Cornmeal …makes ants explode: they take the grains home, eat them and then presumably drink some water so grains expand inside the ant, and then they go pop – but might take an awful lot of cornstarch to feed a whole colony
Cinnamon ….but some people dont like the smell any more than the ants
Bay leaves … not very tidy
Vodka. …. 3:1 ratio of vodka to water, sprayed liberally, but might give visitors the wrong impression
Washing-up liquid and water mix ….works for a while but then they come back when it has dried

We have settled on baby powder, as you have surmised from my wake-up call. I have no idea where the houseproud urges came from as I never had them in UK, but I am resisting the inclination to hoover it all up as soon as the ants take a break. The smell brings back some of the nicer memories of having children, it is relatively cheap and so far I haven’t heard any suggestion that it is carcinogenic….

Update on that: baby powder does contain talc which a recent meta-analysis suggests is linked to ovarian cancer

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2343974/Women-regularly-use-talcum-powder-increase-risk-ovarian-cancer-24.html#

(Daily Mail version)

http://cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2013/06/12/1940-6207.CAPR-13-0037.abstract

(Academic link)

OK so keep it well away from “intimate personal hygiene”, probably still safe for ant prevention.

I mentioned cockroaches earlier, the Periplaneta americana.

 

After fruitless search for one to photograph I have resorted to that well-known w…pedia for a picture. They eat anything that is not alive and are common in basements – guess who isn’t going to unpack the cardboard boxes when it is time to return to UK! I havent actually seen a living one out here yet, I am assured it is only a matter of time, and I rather wish it would happen so I can get over it as the apprehension at meeting one in the bathroom at night grows with every night I escape unscathed. I like the friendly name given to them here: Palmetto bugs.

On my search just now I did find this:

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It think it is a June Bug (Lygyrus cuniculus ) which apparently fly drunkenly at night in June (obviously), but it doesnt look exactly like the one in my field guide book so I might be wrong. Any suggestions?

There are many prettier and less annoying insects and bugs, butterflies, millipedes and snails, but none of these are threatening my kitchen so not priority no1.