Monday, 29 September 2014

St.Martins, Isles of Scilly, on a Sunday afternoon.

I haven't even begun to scratch the surface here, all I have done is cycled and walked over the island of St.Martins taken a few 'snaps' and exchanged pleasantries with people.

St Martin's (Cornish)  Brechiek, meaning "dappled island") is the northernmost populated island of the Isles of Scilly, England. It has an area of 237 hectares (0.92 sq mi). I love a few facts don't you ?

I decide it is time to investigate the distinctive Daymark on the eastern tip of the island. I have viewed it from afar through the early morning mists, gazed over at it in the deep golden glow of a stunning sunset and studied it through driving rain and glorious sunshine.

Red stripes were added to the Daymark in 1830 as a young West African (who has a memorial stone in the churchyard) had his boat, the Hope,  thrown against the lethal rocks and wrecked on St.Martins Head after mistaking it for the white daymark of St.Agnes lighthouse.

More impossibly soft sandy paths surrounded by bracken lead me to the summit. Pedigree Red Ruby Devon cows munch silently. Valentina, May, Poppy and Daisy apparently. I make a little light conversation with them and bade them farewell.

Before I reach the Daymark the clouds obscure the sun and I give an involuntary shudder and pop on my warm fleece even though it is not cold. It's a strange feeling being surrounded by the sea, one side is misty and mysterious and the other is clear and startling in its clarity. I take a seat down on the springy slightly prickly heather and watch as the waves pound a rock relentlessly sending up that totally hypnotic 'whooshing of spray'.  I observe entranced.

The Isles of Scilly is more than a group of breathtakingly beautiful islands, it is a place where people leave a fragment of their hearts and return time and time again. It is the spiritual home of so many, a private place they can escape and seek solice in an ever increasing violent and bewildering world. You can shelter here and rest awhile before you continue your journey.

It is a place where you can stand still and take stock.(or cycle)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

A Trip to Tresco

One single solitary simple word, uplifting. I was apprehensive I admit. There has been an enormous investment on Tresco, the glossies have told us of a paradise isle, the luvvies have 'discovered' utopia, the posers have a unparallelled backdrop, the timeshare crew have their garden of Eden, would it's natural raw beauty have been smothered ?

As September days go this one was faultless. The pristine whitewashed cottages greet you at the quay, quaint signposts are slightly alarming, all in the best possible taste but....

I walk towards St.Nicholas church and I am instantly transported back to some of the happiest years of my life when I would push my first fair haired baby along in his pushchair. Blackberries glistening in the early dew of Autumn, large pale brown and yellow leaves leaving patterns on the road, a thrush hopping nervously in the hedgerows and a surprising feeling of space and light.

And then I spot 'real life', a splendid 1948 Massey Ferguson and any apprehension I may have felt instantly falls away. The organist is practising for an island wedding this weekend and the church is flooded with the organs sweet sound.  The florist from St.Martins is busily creating breathtaking bursts of glory. 'I used to drive one of those' I inform the elderly man and he steps forward and plonks a gentle kiss on my face. I seem to have inadvertently found the 'soul' and 'pulse' to the island and I am pleased.

I walk towards Cromwells Castle and King Charles Castle, I am alone, where is everyone ? I settle on a deserted New Grimsby Quay and witness a pair of rare birds swoop and dive in front of me. I know they are rare because I have never seen them before, as large as the Heron but rather more playful in the air. Afterwards I slowly collect pieces of pastel coloured glass whose edges have been smoothed by the endless tides and tumbling on the shore.

I head towards Appletree Bay and Pentle Bay via the perimeter of Tresco Abbey and Gardens whose delights I have to come back and savour another day. I see familiar landmarks and wish with all my heart the people who love them were here beside me. A shadow of sadness flickers briefly over me and I say a very hard prayer of thanks (again), that I am here.

 'You can't take a poor picture on Scilly' Toby's words always echoing beside me. I am merely taking the same shot's that fill my Fathers slide boxes, following in his sandy footsteps. 'Blessed is me' I think.

But I have my weakness's and can be easily led astray in the Ruin Beach Cafe.

Afterwards however I stand and ponder my strengths whilst the sun goes down.  Something we should all do and I come to the conclusion that I shall never again settle for second best.

If you are enjoying my pictures do feel free to follow me on google+ , I would be delighted if you would care to join me.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

A visit to St.Agnes, Isles of Scilly

Days blur into weeks, sky, sea and land continue to fascinate on a daily basis. It's all about clouds and light and an endless kaleidoscope of colours, textures, smells and memories to store.

Yesterday I popped over to St. Agnes, being a mere mile wide and one of the smallest of the five inhabited islands of Scilly. I scurried along to the sandbar which joins the island of Gugh to St.Agnes at low tide. Overwhelmed by memories of sandy sandwiches I am jolted into the present by a sudden squall of lashing rain. Remembering a large overhanging rock of bygone days I sit in silence and savour it all. I cannot believe I did not pack my rainproof, not such a Scilly guru after all.... Later on I congratulate myself for remembering the suncream.

I head towards the unmissable rock formation known as the 'Nags Head'. If distinctive stones and ancient rock formations are your thing you won't be disappointed. To keep spirits and strength up I nipped into the very well stocked post office and secured myself a Cadbury's Curly Wurly so that I could chew whilst I contemplated the dizzying array of stones. I found myself completely alone, I breathed in the solitude, save for a solitary deeply luscious brown cow busy munching away, the end result eventually being turned into creamy and dreamy ice cream. (I  had a quick sample)...

Stumbled into a cat doing a spot of what I enjoy most 'dollydaydreaming' perched in a rather masterful way on an old wooden gate soaking up the warmth of the sun.

On my arrival back at St.Martins I am hugely tempted by the thought of a cream tea with lashings of clotted cream and oozing strawberry jam on warm crumbly scones in the sheltered garden of the Karma St.Martins hotel. Savio spies me, 'the VIP entrance awaits you' he calls, and I am sorely torn but sense prevails...

The sky is beckoning, a free for all spectacular is forming amongst the billowing clouds above.  For a split second I am distracted by the light flooding an old greenhouse but push myself through the narrow sandy paths and ferns turning their autumnal colours to the highest point on the island.  I shudder, it is majestic, awe inspiring and I cannot believe I have the luck to be here.

The light is phenomenal.

I stand there, I give thanks, I count my blessings.  I go to the pub where the low hum of life dances amongst the clinking of glasses and the flickering candles. We walk home in the utter pitch black. There is no light polution on Scilly. Amongst the thousands of twinkling stars and the Milky Way so clear it halts you in your tracks I spy a lone shooting star.

Did I make a wish ?  No, to wish for more would be pure greed.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

September sunshine on Scilly


The sunshine returned and the temperatures soared once more. I had succumbed to a cold, not an attractive acquisition but I was saddled with it. It was a stark reminder that this is real life not a fairy tale, you didn't think for one moment it was did you ?

A little girl is in her element playing happily and safely on one of the most gorgeous beaches you will find anywhere in the world, only this one she has entirely to herself. As she contentedly clutches her shrimping net I fervently hope this blissful moment will travel with her throughout her life, just as my recollections of Scilly have.

Earlier on I had tagged onto a guide giving a tour of the island to a little knot of people, some scribbling fervently into notebooks, others clutching binoculars and camera's, all with the 'de-riguer' rucksack. Did you know that wild chicory only grows on three places on Scilly, there are only two pairs of Peregrine Falcons and that October is the best month in which to spot a wide variety of birds, many of them European migrants ? I make a mental note to go on a tour soon.

Going along with the old adage of 'feeding a cold' I settle myself down with a plate of home-made flapjacks, fruit cake and chocolate.  I steadily compile an album of over forty photographs, not bad for 11 days really despite all the distractions.

Now I just have to figure out how to share it so you can be here with me.....

Monday, 22 September 2014

Sunday on Scilly

It's difficult to imagine that because of poor weather the plane did not fly for three days.  People were  'stranded', it's then you realize that you are on a tiny group of islands huddled together in the middle of the Atlantic.

I had a very busy weekend, I can hear the snorts of derision from you now just as I hear the echo of disbelief when I tell people I took a 'one way ticket'. 'Just as life is' I cheerily explain and I know there are people annoyed with me for such an irrational move. They seek an explanation, a reason for the frivolity, the rashness of such an act, but really they are annoyed with themselves. It is not easy to veer from your supposed path in life, to venture and walk amongst the complete unknown, it takes courage, but most of all it takes a belief in yourself even if sometimes life gives you the push when you least expected it.

From the 'South of France to Scilly' I know in my heart I am immensely privileged but no-one held my hand along the way, and as Toby constantly reminds me 'no-one can do it for you' and there lies the hard part.  Is it the rugged rocks with their strange shapes that lie along hypnotic tiny paths of springy heather or the rounded boulders snaking and stretching lazily as the tide goes out ? I decide I am most definitely a 'rock person' because I am fascinated by them.

Sunday afternoon turns out to be quite a scorcher so I set out for the very last beach on the island that I had not yet walked on. I headed towards the distinctive Daymark landmark and to the right the beach of Perpitch. But as soon as I got there it was hopelessly obvious by the feelings of 'deja vu' that swept over me that this totally deserted stretch of sand with it's dunes had played it's part in my happy childhood, more years ago perhaps than I would care to admit. The late afternoon sun began to cast its fierce gold glow on the ferns which were changing their summer coats into the soft hues of Autumn.  The seals came and obligingly bobbed up and down for me, their silky sleek glistening bodies twisting and turning joyfully.

To reach heaven you have to make the journey alone.

Friday, 19 September 2014

A dreamy day drifting on St.Martins, Isles of Scilly

Rode' home' on my newly acquired bike after a sublime meal at the islands hotel Karma St.Martins, beautifully cooked English lamb, very convivial company, sparkling wine... The word 'townie' sprang to mind whilst wobbling down the pitch black lane with nothing between me and the milky way overhead but a total void. Everything was twinkling, the countless stars, me, my life until a flash of lightening over St Mary's way jolted me out of my blissful reverie.

Wake up the next morning to the sound of a cockerel in the distance, the chirping of birds and the stirring of geese, realise that this is rather pleasing and resolve not to be waylaid today and 'focus' on getting to the Highertown Quay, should be achievable I thought. Popped into the Island Bakery and purchased a newly baked white chocolate chip cookie and then whilst I was in the vicinity the North Farm Gallery.  All hugely distracting and wildly photogenic at every turn. Am prepared to admit to 'chatting' and then inviting myself into a field filled with purple sprouting broccoli and courgettes. Securely putting my newly acquired 'bounty' into my Father's 70's rucksack, without realising I was sporting 'old skool' till told pushed my bike with determination towards my destination.

Spotted a rather fetching little deserted beach and trundled down with my bike through the thick ferns where I promptly lay down on the glittering sand and fell asleep. Visited the St.Martins information centre where I learnt that the wretched occupants of the island had to be rescued from near starvation in the 17th century and evacuated to St.Mary's.

Promised to bring in washing but failed miserably as trotted to hotel to thank friends for such a lovely evening and ended up discussing how prettily our feet shone in the evening after wriggling our toes in the glistening fine sand, lost track of time.....

Achieved nothing, gained everything. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Scilly in your heart.


Day irrelevent.

Time to leave the beautiful hotel of Karma St.Martins, what a fabulous experience on every level, and move slightly inland to a different location. 'Goodbye' I say cheerily whilst all the other departing guests look very forlorn indeed. 'Time for the boat Sally' they say. 'I'm  not leaving' I trill, and I swear the staff are so professional that not one flicker of dismay or alarm showed on their faces.

Decide to take a trip to St Mary's and as I step off the boat it all begins to feel surreal. The video's on YouTube that I have been soaking up for weeks, the webcams I have on, the weather forecast I watch with a wry smile from 619.58 miles away in Carcassonne. I know the roads from years gone by.  I make my way to our first holiday cottage overlooking the sweep of Porthcressa Beach, I am there on the same seat shelling peas with my Father early one evening . Cut through a connecting path and I am on Church Street and there before me is the tall house we came to every year with the large graceful bow window. The Agapanthus blue plants were poking their heads out of the gaps of the freshly painted wrought iron fence, I had to turn the knob on the gate and it squeaked just as it had always done. I felt terribly self concious, what was I doing here ? The house silently regarded me and I wondered what it saw in the woman that now stood before it rather than the small child peering without a care in the world from the upstairs window. And I am so stunned that I take no pictures, not that it has changed drastically from the outside it's just an image I want to retain privately in my mind.

I come across the island tour bus, well one of them anyway. Sometimes collecting stories is sad and you can't always write about them but the driver was reflective and I knew just how he felt right at that very moment. I begged to be let aboard (I've left his hand in the shot, the poor man had a time schedule) and we talked briefly. I breathed in the warm smell of old leather, I felt the magical presence of being in a classical motor. I wished him well but I don't think this unique bus so reminiscent of a bygone era will be chugging round the streets much longer 'sometimes' change is not necessarily progress and........ I hope you understand.

Nearly missed the boat going back to the island. I wondered who was calling my name along the quayside. 'Will Sally please make her way to the boat where everyone is awaiting her'  Honestly, you couldn't make it up.

As I return 'home' to St.Martins I sternly remind myself that it is people and places not possessions that are important in life.

Three beautiful children pass by with their Father. 'Stop stop' I shout. 'Would you mind terribly if I took their photographs' ? The picture encapsulates the rare ingredient of happiness and contentment that no amount of money can buy.

You either have it or you don't, but as visitors to these islands will happily confirm, and whom return time and time again, the magic will stealthily creep unseen into your heart.


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