Tuesday 21 September 2010

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Isles of Scilly - day 14 - St Mary's to Penzance

Scillonian III docked at Penzance
Scillonian III docked at Penzance

Clean and tidy the flat, ready for departure — leave bags for pick up by the gate — bus to Hugh Town — a dull day waiting — queue for boarding passes in the Harbour Master's Office — rocking Scillonian home — hood up, reading on deck as the sun sets — three porpoises round off the trip

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Isles of Scilly - day 13 - Bryher

Hell Bay, Bryher

Choppy sea, rocking boat, leaves T waving from the quay — solo mission to Bryher — rapid climb up Samson Hill — dramatic Rushy Bay with its string of rocky islets — round stones stacked on wooden posts along Great Popplestone — wave battered coast, turf peeled back like grazed skin — remote, blustery Shipman Head — Hangman Island — roadside produce store guarded by a cat — early trip back on the Sea King — join T scribbling notes at the museum — stuffed birds and ancient finds — visit the brilliant Rat Bags: makers of all things involving sail cloth — first time snorkelling at Pelistry Bay

Monday 13 September 2010

Isles of Scilly - day 12 - Eastern Isles

starting the inflatable boat to Nornour
dinghy to Nornour, Isles of Scilly

Hugh Town via Holy Vale nature trail — board the Blue Hunter for a trip to the Eastern Isles with historian Katherine — patched-up rubber dinghy landing on Nornour — diminishing prehistoric settlement — breaking of a hundred cobwebs to ascend Great Ganilly — dinghy to Little Arthur — crossing the stone strand to Great Arthur — cairns and Iron Age pottery

Sunday 12 September 2010

Isles of Scilly - day 11 - St Mary's

cream teas and swing bands on St Mary's

Slow start, missed bus — coffee at the quay from The Pilchard Pit — Heike, the famous vet, sells calenders from a stall — sunny, clear views over to The Western Rocks — amble around the walls once again — slow walk home — quick change and down to Pelistry Bay — T dons the wetsuit, I struggle in without — spurred on by a pensioner and her dog who make it look easy — kelp forests and fish — a revelation — shivery exit, warming walk home

Saturday 11 September 2010

Isles of Scilly - day 10 - St Martin's

floating in Great Bay, St Martin's

Early bus to the quay — return to St Martin's, docking at Higher Town — Little Arthur's is closed — pass the Dr Seuss Day Mark — over Burnt Hill to St Martin's Bay — wetsuit swim in the turquoise water — weary walk along St Martin's Flats — hedge defended campsite — shaven-headed skipper of the Guiding Star talks non-stop into his mobile phone — amusing fish and chip 'raffle' from the van at Hugh Town — another swim for T — ladies gig race — night walk home

Friday 10 September 2010

Isles of Scilly - day 9 - Tresco

Kettle Point Tresco
Kettle Point, Tresco

Gloomy day — meet our neighbour and her dog Kai as we wait for the rickety bus — miserable bus driver, even here — his cardboard sign reads: "I despise 1ps, 2ps, 10ps and 20ps with a passion bordering on obsession" — boat to Tresco — submerged field walls revealed at low tide — stroll the long dunes of Pentle Bay — an amateur sound recordist sits on a bench — water colour islets in a gauzy sky — the ruined Old Blockhouse overlooking Old Grimsby — take advantage of the extreme low tide and walk with shoes off to Bryher — just enough time for a sandwich before walking back as the tide surges in — the final participants of the inter island walk follow —  scale Plumb Island, covered in a hottentot fig hat — fancy pants Tresco Stores — explore Cromwell's Castle — round the rocky northern coast to Old Grimsby

Thursday 9 September 2010

Isles of Scilly - day 8 - St Marys

palm tree, blue sky, St Mary's

Packed up and expelled from paradise — bags left for pick-up — look round the excellent Phoenix Craft Workshops — great prints, stained glass, paintings and jewellery — trudge across the island to T & I's next stop: The Moos — a circuit around Toll's Island — cider and crab sandwiches at Juliet's Garden — more Troy Town ice cream — wave the family off — night walk to Porth Hellick — "Please do not ride horses over this scheduled ancient monument" — up into the early hours working on a feature for B+W Photography

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Isles of Scilly - day 7 - St Martin's

St Martins Bay
St Martin's Bay

En masse sailing to St Martin's on the Surprise — expert boat handling in the shallows — low tide dock at Lower Town — morning coffee at the hotel beneath a Polynesian thatched umbrella — stroll around Tinkler's Hill, gazing at the smaller islands — seals sunbathe on Great Merrick Ledge — stone and seaweed crossing to White Island — sea beet and camomile — a spine of micro mountains — probably the finest British beach yet: St Martin's Bay (see above) — a sea holly bouquet for sale at the roadside — freshly decanted brown lemonade from The Bakery — hot pilgrimage to Little Arthur cafe — cosy, trellised booths — superb wholewheat pasty and scone on blue patterned china — sandy track to English Island Point — Eastern Isles stud the blue water — Day Mark just out of reach — high tide pick up from Higher Town — farewell meal at The Boatshed — unmissable duo of chocolate mousses

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Isles of Scilly - day 6 - St Agnes

the view from Gugh to St Agnes

Arrive at the crammed quay too late for the overflowing 10:15, so catch the second boat to St Agnes — big swells in the sun — exquisite jetty position — tide out, cross the sandy bar to Gugh — ancient cairns among the heather and bracken — sweaty dash to meet the others back on St Agnes — ankle testing quest to Burnt Island — deserting tide observer — stunning spot for camping at Troy Town — banana, Bailey's & cinnamon: ice cream doesn't get better than this — ridiculous, oversized, film-set boulder formations — horizon gazing at Wingletang Bay — a quick scoot through Middle Town — new build houses! — two lads in wetsuits acrobatically entertain the waiting crowds at the jetty — L & J put on a serious BBQ

Monday 6 September 2010

Isles of Scilly - day 5 - Old Town, St Marys

stacked stones at Carn Leh Cove, Old Town, St Mary's

Cloudy start — walk to Old Town — ordered allotments slide down to the coastal edge, trimmed by tall hedges, silvery in the light — balanced stones on Carn Leh Cove — sandy stretch and concrete sea defence of Old Town — sweet Old Church with acres of graves — steamy windows in the cafe — on a rocky promontory, plane after plane flies in over our heads to land at the airport — feet in the water at deeply recessed Porth Hellick — Pelistry Bay hemmed in by ferns and lines of cedar — a tongue of sand pokes out to met Toll Island — a fishing net hammock laces a tree — circuit complete, cut back through the island — duck ponds and locally grown produce

Sunday 5 September 2010

Isles of Scilly - day 4 - Samson

ruin on South Hill Samson
ruin on South Hill, Samson

Morning swim for T (in wetsuit) at Porth Cressa — quiet before the 9:30 inter-island boats depart — delicious rolls from the butcher for breakfast — walk to the middle of the island — fascinating Carreg Dhu community garden sits in a disused quarry — a bag of tools available for anyone who fancies a go — super view from our outside table at the Heritage Centre cafe — a sign apologises for the temporary site of the Centre but it would be a shame to lose its dilapidated, half-arsed charm — head to the quay but nowhere seems to be open for sandwiches — we gather by the sign for Katherine's historical walk on Samson — pass a spoonbill on Green Island — "I'm trying to tell you what to do, it's up to you if you listen" says the deckhand as a large lady panics getting out of the dinghy, landing with a wet thud on her side — our group of 40 is taken around Samson's ruined dwellings — Katherine is clear in speech, well-practiced and knowledgeable — back to the dinghy and a bumpy ride home — L & J's scrumptious chilli as the sun sets over the isles

Saturday 4 September 2010

Isles of Scilly - day 3 - Tresco

Tresco orderliness

Awake to a sea mist — join queue for boat tickets — the first boat to Tresco appears to be full of refugees clad in rambling wear — our tiny boat circles the leviathan Europa — dock at New Grimsby, Tresco — the atmosphere of a very clean holiday/retirement complex — people pass by on golf carts — all sorts of spikes and giant leaves in the Abbey Garden — a pacing golden pheasant — ok pasty and great Cornish beer from the garden cafe — fine rain across the dunes — a servant waits beneath a brolly and fluttering Hapag-Lloyd flag to offer refreshments from an overladen table to cruise passengers — wet boat ride back — make the chippy with 2mins to spare — the garrulous owner explains he only opens 2hrs a day, seven months of the year — closing for the season soon: off to his second home in Cornwall, then a long driving holiday in Spain, and some skiing in Switzerland — X-Factor for L & J

Friday 3 September 2010

Isles of Scilly - day 2 - St Mary's

watching the gig racing

A young man prods crabs with a stick at Newford Island — his girlfriend collects shells to arrange into an Art Attack — a lady sings along to Fleetwood Mac over her loom at Portloo Studios — coffee at beautifully positioned Juliet's Garden — walking over bouncy, rounded heather — Devonshire Ruby cows munch the scrub, penned in by electricity — Iron Age village at Halangy Down looks like a well-kept rockery — a lozenge of wild meadow overbrims with small tortoiseshell — needle carpeted woods, blackberry bushes — a creatively arranged stack of round boulders at Innisidgen — cut back through pastoral fields, high hedges and swallows — watch the back-breaking gig race from the quay — not sure who wins until we check the results board in town — victory to Nornour!

Thursday 2 September 2010

Isles of Scilly - day 1

onboard the Scillonian III
cairn on Buzza Hill above St Mary's

Queasily plucked from bed at 2:15am — begin the family trek down to Penzance — the near edge of the car's headlight ripples over the hedgerows like a bar code scanner — the flavour of place names change as we move west through Hampshire, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall — 4:30am pit stop at Exeter services — a lone manager sits and goes through paperwork — the sun rises above disused tin mines — the Penzance stevedores compete to look the most Cornish — the crane lifts a car onto the Scillonian III — onboard: a sheltered sunny bench and a snooze — land sneaks up without us realising — the vessel lodges into the harbour at Hugh Town — a horse box is lifted from the boat, and effectively dropped to the ground 5ft below — follow the throng into town — tourist info chalkboards tell you everything you need to know — arrive at Jus Limin with its amazing view over the harbour — welcomed at the butcher's by the resident parrot — trolleys at Co-Op filled with holiday maker's orders —plod up the steep hill to Star Castle — the garrison walls of St Mary's gleam white like battlements from Greece — one section is home to the helter-skelter shape of autumn lady's-tresses — free apples on a roadside table — PRIVATE daubed on a boulder stops us from reaching Newford Island — after dinner, a collective appreciation of the sunset — all asleep by 10