I adore history and actually majored in this subject at university.  I have long wanted to visit the Cape Cod peninsula in New England and explore the history of the area, especially where the Mayflower ship landed in Massachusetts 401 years ago.  The pilgrims named the area where they landed Plymouth, after the British town from which they had sailed 66 days earlier.  I found it thrilling to learn about my British ancestors who had preceded my own emigration to the USA by settling a new land four centuries ago, most of them were in search of religious freedom.

I was able to persuade my husband to visit New England in August mainly because he knew that the high temperatures would be in the seventies!  In addition to the historical aspect, I was keen to see Cape Cod and some of the natural beauty of the Eastern seaboard.  I have also enjoyed many novels by an author who lives on and sets her books on Nantucket so was determined to make the journey by ferry from Hyannis – just like in her books – and discover more.

Nantucket is an island about 14 miles long and 3.5 miles wide.  It is 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, to the south east of its bigger and more high-profile neighbor, the island of Martha’s Vineyard. My husband pointed out while we were on Nantucket that I was as close as I have been to the land of my birth since before the COVID-19 pandemic.  Nothing eastwards but the Atlantic Ocean until you hit Europe. 

Nantucket was discovered by European settlers to America early in the seventeenth century, but was not settled until 1659 by the Quakers.  Its heyday was in the 19th century when ships based there were sent around the world to hunt whales for their oil and blubber.

Nantucket has a year-round population of approximately 12,000 but a summer population of around 50,000 – I think they were all getting off the ferry with us when we arrived!  There are three lighthouses on Nantucket, which were much needed as over 700 shipwrecks in the area caused the surrounding waters to be called “the graveyard of the Atlantic”

The gory business of whaling created a great deal of wealth for the island in the 18th century.  Whaling captains would leave their wives at home on Nantucket for years at a time to travel as far as the Pacific Ocean to hunt the mighty whale. Meanwhile their wives enjoyed the luxurious homes built with whaling money and ran their husband’s business affairs.  As someone whose modern-day husband used to travel a lot on business, I cannot imagine saying, “Be careful dear, see you in 5-7 years!”

Herman Melville’s famous novel of 1851, Moby Dick, was based on whaling ships whose home harbor was Nantucket, but the author didn’t actually visit the island until 1852!  After oil – the fossil fuel variety – was discovered in Pennsylvania in 1859, the demand for whale oil decreased dramatically and within a decade the Nantucket whaling industry was all but dead.  The population of the island quickly declined by nearly 70% and the expensive houses built by the whalers were mostly bought as summer homes by wealthy people in Boston and New York.  Tourism began during the later years of the 19th century and by the middle of the 20th century was booming

The Kennedy family, known as Cape Cod royalty in decades past, summered on the Cape and owned property on the mainland.  Although they sailed the Nantucket Sound, they did not spend any significant time on the island

Most of the buildings on Nantucket are a “weathered gray” color, mainly because of very strict building regulations and the wooden gray siding widely used which can stand up to the winter fogs, rain, sleet, storms, and freezing temperatures.  The cost of a modest 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom house on Nantucket ranges from $1.5 – $12 million, depending on location and condition of the property. According to the Massachusetts Department of Consumer Affairs, the cost of living on the island is 21% higher than in the rest of the state, although to us tourists it seemed even more.  There is more information at

We enjoyed our time in Cape Cod, where we did some seal watching, toured the Mayflower II, a replica of the original, and I had my first lobster roll and some good fish and chips.  Not quite like back in England, but New England is a great place and there is a lot there to remind me of the land of my birth.

I say goodbye this week with a quote from Melville’s Moby Dick. “Nantucket in a nutshell: a pile of sand, a glacial afterthought, but also a corner of the world, connected and connecting the small with the vast, an insignificant nothing that is part of the main.”

God Bless America and Nantucket!

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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at  or via her PR and marketing agency at



SAVANNAH, GA. – September 2, 2021 – The Savannah VOICE Festival (SVF) announces a virtual streaming opportunity to share six archived performances from Season Nine, “LIVE”, online, along with the theme for SVF Season X: “GHOST.

 “LIVE-online” is scheduled to be live-streamed on SVF’s Facebook account @SavannahVOICEFestival from Oct. 1-6, 2021, beginning at 7 p.m. EST. Viewers can go directly to the SVF Facebook page or go on the Savannah VOICE Festival website to use the link provided. No Facebook account is necessary to watch.

The events will begin at 7 p.m. EST and will last 50 minutes each during week to present season nine “LIVE-online”:

  • Friday, October 1: SVF “LIVE-online” – Episode 1
    • 7 p.m. | Kickoff: Together Again: After two years of virtual work together, the artists of the Savannah VOICE Festival go back on some iconic stages of its beloved city for live audiences. Take a journey through
  • Saturday, October 2: SVF “LIVE-online” – Episode 2
    • 7 p.m. | Broadway: an elegant curation of arias and songs that are coupled with the beautiful artwork that lives in the Telfair Rotunda
  • Sunday, October 3: SVF “LIVE-online” – Episode 3
    • 7 p.m. | Headliner: Liz Lang, soprano with Howard Watkins, piano
  • Monday, October 4: SVF “LIVE-online” – Episode 4
    • 7 p.m. | A Night at the Museum
  • Tuesday, October 5: SVF “LIVE-online” – Episode 5
    • 7 p.m. | La Boheme: SVF brings Puccini’s masterpiece live on stage with a stellar cast of Festival artists under the direction of Fabrizio Melano and Andrew Bisantz.
  • Wednesday, October 6: SVF “LIVE-online” – Episode 6
    • 7 p.m. | Finale: Until We Meet Again

“We are so thrilled to be able to offer this streaming opportunity for our patrons that maybe couldn’t make the travel to our in-person festival this year,” said Executive Director, Maria Zouves. “We want everyone to have the chance to see the hard work and abundant talent of our SVF artists in this last festival season.”

SVF has also announced the dates and theme for its tenth season. SVF Season 10 will be slated to run Aug. 8-27, 2022 and the theme is “Season X: “GHOST””. Next year’s season will be featuring “Alice Ryley” and “Anna Hunter”, two operas written by SVF’s very own Michael Ching.

“SVF is grateful for Michael Ching and his hard work and dedication in creating two wonderful compositions to showcase to next year’s patrons,” said Zouves. “We believe that these two operas will showcase the history and mystery of Savannah and embody our tenth season of the Savannah VOICE Festival.”

Alice Riley” debuted at the Charles H. Morris Center during Halloween weekend in 2015, a fitting time for the deliverance of a woeful ghost story peppered with murder, passion and history. This contemporary opera, performed and sung in the English Language, centers on the tragic story of Alice Ryley, an Irish indentured servant in the 1700s who, along with her lover, is accused of killing her master. “Anna Hunter, The Spirit of Savannah” debuted in Nov. of 2017 at the Davenport House with immersion performances that featured a live instrumental ensemble. This comedic ghost opera takes audiences on a journey through the Davenport House as they portray the story of the woman who changed the future of Savannah by preserving its past.

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Editor’s Notes 

Savannah VOICE Festival is a 501(c) 3 tax exempt nonprofit arts organization in the state of Georgia. The Festival brings classical vocal excellence to the Savannah area through a two-week celebration of concerts, events and educational presentations during the month of August and throughout the year. Focusing on arts awareness and audience development in the performing arts, it offers music from opera, musical theatre and popular song. Donations are tax-deductible. 

For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Fielding at 229-393-6457 or, or Lesley Francis at 912-429-3950 or



SAVANNAH, GA. – Sept. 2, 2021 – Maritime Bethel at Savannah (MBS) and their partners reached a huge milestone by administering their 2,000th COVID-19 vaccination to seafarers at the Port of Savannah on August 24, 2021. To date, MBS has vaccinated 2,166 seafarers across 161 ships.

The Rotary Club of Savannah, Georgia Department of Public Health, Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), Georgia Ports Authority, the Colonial Group, Inc., and MBS worked together to provide free access to the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for seafarers who call on the Port of Savannah. These partners work together to provide facilities that ensure the safe and proper dissemination of the vaccine within the gated Ports of Savannah. The medical team, provided by CORE, administers these vaccines on board the vessels, escorted into the port by the MBS team.

Many seafarers come from underdeveloped nations and are typically on board their vessels from 6 – 9 months and COVID protocols restrict the majority of them from leaving their ships. Most come from countries where the COVID vaccine is not readily available. This inoculation opportunity helps to keep seafarers safe and healthy while onboard vessels and ensures that they arrive home to their families after months at sea.

“Ninety percent of everything we consume is transported on ships operated by seafarers. People don’t often realize that without these seafarers, their quality of life would be much different than what they experience today,” MBS Executive Director John Houchens said. “Seafarers are essentially invisible. They are on ships, out at sea, and in highly secured environments for months, so we never see or think about them. But they are essential to the daily lives we live. Without them, our lives would be completely different.”

According to the Georgia Ports Authority, the Port of Savannah is the largest single-operator and fastest-growing container terminal in America, with over 78,000 seafarers and 4,200 ships visiting Savannah each year. In terms of total volume, it is the fourth-largest port in the nation. Seafarers worked throughout the entire pandemic, growing cargo volumes by 20 percent in 2021.

For more information about Maritime Bethel Savannah and its vaccination initiative with its partners, please call John Houchens at 912.398.0896, email or visit the website at

Since 2007, the faith-based Christian nonprofit organization has been providing “far away from home” personal, spiritual, emotional, and practical support to seafarers who come into the Port of Savannah on ships from all over the world. MBS is not affiliated with any one church or denomination and serves all seafarers regardless of creed.

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For media inquiries, please contact Allie Robinson at or 912-547-3100, Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950, or the LFPR office at 912-417-5377.