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Friday, 25 August 2006

On the move

It has been a very eventful week. Friday in particular was most strange. It was one of those days when both of us felt like we just had to get out of the house ... So, we agreed to go to our local Church for some more decorating. We got halfway there only to find the roads were closed due to an accident. We navigated our way past that, and then found that we had left the keys at home ... Off to Sainsbury's we went to get some lunch, which we took up to the Downs to eat. Sitting in the car park we were watching the clouds roll in, one minute we were in brilliant sunshine, and the next it was peeing down.

We have been thinking of moving for a while now, considering downsizing and getting out of London altogether. We are not strictly in in London, but near enough, as it is only an hour by car. Our friend, who is one of the Church trustees, lives on a park home site, and has been saying for some time that we should go and see her. On the spur of the moment we decided to do just that. The moment we walked into her house, both of us fell in love, and knew that we had found the place that we wanted to move to. Don't get me wrong, Our friend's house is not for sale, but there are 250 other homes on the park that she lives on. Luckily, one of them was for sale, so we went straight home to ring the agent and made an appointment to view it on Saturday. We ended up offerng the asking price.

It is a beautiful property and very light and spacious - a luxury detached bungalow, with a huge garden and plenty of parking.

All we have to do is sell our own property and therein lies the problem, for we are not the only ones who are interested in this house. A Spanish couple have also put an offer in. They cannot leave Spain for legal reasons until the end of October, so if we want to get in then we have to act fast. We have been in touch with a company with a view to doing a part exchange on our house, which would mean that we could move in as little as 6 weeks time, fingers crossed.

In the meantime we have been busy cleaning and tidying the house so that it looks as good as possible, and so that we can get the best possible price. The part exchange people take 10 percent of the sale value, so we need to make sure we get a good price. The living room floor is littered with bags full of shredded paper and unwanted books and CD's.

Saturday, 5 August 2006

Where has the time gone?

It seems like forever since I got back from Lundy, yet is only 2 weeks. Here is my log entry for the 3 weeks that I was there:

"This year, in fact this month, has seen 2 of my long held dreams finally come true – seeing my book in print and spending 3 weeks on Lundy. I have often fantasised about what it would be like – how much quieter would my mind go. Would I end up out of my mind completely? Some people no doubt think I am already am.

After five long years of work and trying in vain to find a publisher for my book, I finally decided to do it myself – self publish that is – via a company called Authors OnLine Ltd. I would thoroughly recommend them to any other aspiring authors, and I notice reading through this log that there are a few of us!

When I realised that it would take up to 2 years (and possibly never) to see the book in print after signing a contract and all I would get was an 8 percent royalty, then self publishing began to look a very attractive proposition. This way the book is never out of print, I have total control over cover design, title, editorial changes, marketing etc, and I earn a 60 percent royalty. No competition really. I don’t know why more people don’t do it - increasingly though they are.

Well, here I sit then at the end of my first week, and what a week it’s been. I arrived in brilliant sunshine, and have seen virtually every kind of weather since – mist, rain, thunder and lightning, plus more sun, some all on the same day! I have spent enjoyable evenings in the Tavern chatting to volunteers and other visitors, catching up with the new and old islanders – there have been a few changes since I was last here in February. The island itself remains as beautiful and unspoilt as ever.

This was not supposed to be a 3 week holiday, but when I saw a cancellation on the Landmark Trust website it seemed too good to pass up, and I am glad that I didn’t. It has been a tough year for me - the toughest I remember, dealing with much personal and work related stuff, leaving things behind and stepping into a new role which Lundy as always is helping me to embrace.

Highlights for the first week –

Thunderstorm on top of the island, but being sheltered on the lower east side path
Catching up with island gossip
Cosy nights in the Tavern with Nick and Dave – the 2 volunteers
Reading my own book!
Jacket spuds covered with melted cheese and creamy coleslaw
Seeing sheep on Acklands Moor – sheep may safely graze
Collecting shells on the beach
Top of the Old Light in a force 8 gale

Low points –

Being refused permission to use the island’s email to contact my publisher re essential changes to the book
A dreadful mushroom stroganoff in the Tavern – food definitely not what it used to be
The ridiculous cost of the island laundry. I bought a washing line and some pegs to do my own – I’m not paying £12 to wash dirty socks and pants!

At the end of my second week I think I have discovered the secret of Lundy – it brings you completely into the present moment, into the power of now, where past and future do not exist. I have come to this conclusion after reading Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, a most appropriate book as it turns out for Lundy, and one that I would wholeheartedly recommend. Most of us, me included go through life with this constant internal babble, and it is only through coming completely into the present that you manage to switch it off. The paradox of Lundy is that there are so many distractions, yet it is so easy and effortless to slip into that eternal moment. I will leave you to ponder on that one, while you try to read my dreadful handwriting …

Highlights of the second week –

History tour with Reg Lo-vel
Sunbathing at the Pyramid, Brazen Ward, North End, Landing Beach, in fact all over!
Discovering the perfect way to keep day trippers away – hang your knickers out to dry (after you have washed them that is, not wet them!)
Some magnificent sunsets
The full moon – spectacular hugging the horizon – lunar standstill
Paul managing to fix my broken glasses – they had a screw loose!
Catching up with Peter and Pat at Little St Johns

Low points –

Venturer’s extremely smelly barbeque
Finding an early horse mushroom only to find that the insects got there first
Day trippers
Sunburnt ears
Rotten, smelly rabbit carcasses
Aching muscles

I can’t leave without mentioning the Lundy Flying Day, which not normally staying here this late in the summer, I didn’t know about. This is an annual event, usually early to mid July when small planes and microlites from all over the mainland descend on Lundy for the day. Although noisy, it was very exciting to watch, not least of all because one of the pilots agreed to take me on my very own sightseeing tour in his 6 seater plane! This was an experience I shall never forget, seeing the island from the air, and the whole island, the length and breadth, not just the south end that you get from the helicopter. I felt so lucky to have this opportunity and searched for a way of expressing my gratitude, but I think the look on my face was all the thanks that Andy (the pilot) needed. Some of them plan to come back to the island in a few weeks time to take the staff on their own sightseeing tour. Next time I come I shall have to put a copy of some of my pictures in this log, so you can see for yourself. I will post them of course on my own website. It was a very bumpy landing, and a bit noisy, but very exciting and a once in a lifetime experience that I shall never forget.

Well, that was Sunday and this is Friday morning. I am writing this sitting up in bed, watching goats from the window while I decide what to do with my last day. Probably one last trip to the North End.

Well, enough of my rambling and on with Lundy. Make the most of it while I still can … On Wednesday the weather changed from stifling heat (36 degrees on the mainland) and blue skies to a gentle breeze, which I think was a welcome change for most of us. Even so, I have not felt like walking much having done most of mine in the first 2 weeks, so have been lazing around with books, chatting to the other visitors in Venturer, Little St Johns (they have also been here for 3 weeks, and I met them last year), and Square Cottage. Today the sun looks like it may reappear so I will saunter up to the North End and see what seals I can find.

In some ways these 3 weeks have gone slowly, but in others they have flown by. Being here for 3 weeks means that I have got to know some of the staff a lot better, which is good, but next week they will have new people to talk to. In the meantime, I will be back on the mainland selling books (I have ordered 50 copies for when I get home) and thinking of you.

Highlights for this week have been:

My flight around the island
Tame deer on Acklands moor
The glorious weather
2 German (?) day trippers who asked me if seals drank sea water! I told them I saw 2 of them in the Tavern the night before ….
Persuading Julie to let me climb the church tower

Low points

Sunburnt knees
Day trippers thinking OLC is a public toilet
Lack of basking sharks
Falling off the stile and bruising my arm and backside
And no doubt the size of my shop and Tavern bill

Will be back as soon as time allows.

For those who are interested, I leave some postcards re my book, and on my next visit maybe a signed copy. The island and staff are mentioned in the acknowledgements page and my publishing company is named Pigsty Press …

If no postcards are left, the book can be ordered from Authors OnLine or Amazon. Signed copies are available from my own website.

That’s all for me then, bye for now and hand over to the next occupant."