It is a Scilly place

Well, obviously it’s been a long time since I posted. What have I been doing? Writing, working, life stuff, though none of these stopped me posting before. I have, however, got a substantial way into the outline of my novel, which has taken a lot of time. I hope to be done by the end of the year.

So this is going to be a long overdue account of our trip to the Scilly Isles in September. As before we took a night in Penzance before and after, and as before it was bizarrely difficult to find a restaurant which was open and would seat us. A tip of the hat to The Pirate’s Rest for consistently excellent fish and chips. The boat trip over to the islands was quite a bit rougher this time, and there was considerably less spotting sunfish from the deck and more vomiting in toilets. However, when we got off the boat things looked up considerably. We hired a couple of bikes and began the first of many pootlings down to our cottage.

The weather was good, as warm as you could expect in September and with a fair bit of sun. I had decided that since this was our summer holiday and we were at the beach, that I was going swimming in a bikini. It felt like having your body dipped in liquid nitrogen, right up until the endorphins kicked in, and then it felt the same only great. Ed, needless to say, did not participate. Still, he was thus better able to appreciate the view, and I must have cut a pretty dashing figure. I mean that literally, because I had to run as I got out in order not to freeze to death.

Exciting as all this was, the most thrilling water related moments didn’t involve me in a bikini at all. In fact, I would rate the top three most exciting moments as follows:

In third place was the wonderful afternoon we spent at Pelistry Bay. There’s an island which connects to the mainland at low tide by a sandbank, and this creates two large pools of very still water. We went paddling in them and you could see life all around you, shrimps showing off on your toes, shoals of silver mackerel, tiny juvenile pollock, and others that I couldn’t recognise. As evening drew in, a seal came to investigate the fish on offer.

Slipping effortlessly into second place was the trip to St Martins, where we snorkelled with seals, shoals of young pollock and tiny luminescent jellyfish. The seals were more curious than last time, regularly coming to have a look at us. Ed played with one which chased his fin round and round in a circle like a three hundred pound marine dog. I watched them swooping underneath me, feeling like I was a visitor to an alien world. Then one swam up to me to get a closer look and suddenly I wasn’t the observer any more. The claw on its fin scraped along the neoprene of my suit as we hung together for a moment; then it had seen enough, and flowed away.

In nail-biting first place was our kayak trip from St Mary’s over to Bryher, which went relatively smoothly until Ed unexpectedly hit a wave side on and got flipped upside down. Not a good kind of exciting, but definitely outranks the seals in white knuckle what-should-I-do-ness. Luckily Ed surfaced quickly and the guide helped him back in the kayak. After a hot chocolate at Bryher we tried to head back, but the wind was against us and, being very inexperienced, we just got turned round and exhausted ourselves battling the wind. In the end we beached the kayaks on Tresco and caught the boat home. I always wondered if sea kayaking was difficult; now I know.

In between all these water related shenanigens were many other highlights, of course. Probably the best day was the one on St Martins which started with the seal snorkelling, followed by a Cornish pasty for lunch, then a trip to the local vineyard to help with the grape harvest and then to a jewellery workshop where I admired the beautiful pieces and jeweller proudly showed Ed his finest piece of work: a roughly welded hydraulic press. On Tresco we watched the golden pheasants bicker in the gardens and were tempted to buy some ridiculously large squash, which we then spent the rest of the trip eating. Our interest in huge vegetables also manifested in the purchase of a marrow, which we stuffed.

I’m not normally much of a one for biking but I loved it here, since there were almost no cars. The steep hill where we were staying ensured I got my cardio every day. In the evenings we cooked and I occasionally tried to write, while Ed rediscovered his love of reading in a hot bath while drinking a gin and tonic. Looking for something light, I was tempted by Tales of a Scilly Sergeant, which was good fun and gave a (now much needed) boost to my confidence in civil order.

I hope updates to the blog will start to be more frequent now. Someone has given me an excellent collection of classic science fiction to read, and perhaps review. For now, though, the evening has run out, the turkey curry lasagne is in the oven, and it’s time to go.

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