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Sunday, 11 March 2012

A return to mainland living

At the beginning of this year I decided that my New Year Resolution would be to write considerably more on this blog, but here we are three months into the New Year with barely more than a few posts. All those good intentions went straight out of th window, swallowed as usual by the day to day routine of going to work, cooking, eating and sleeping, for that is pretty much the routine that I settled into over the long, dark winter months. Now that winter is coming to an end, the light is beginning to return into my life in more ways than one. There is a spring in my step as I begin to unwake from what has seemed at times like a hibernation, except of course that unlike the animal kingdom that has a lot more sense than we do, we do not go to sleep during those cold, dark times, but work even harder than during the long summer nights. I sometimes think that the animals have a lot more sense than we do.

But, spring is most definately in the air, despite the continued cold, and boy was it cold, during my recent sojourn on the beautiful island of Lundy. The island for those who do not know, or are not familar with this blog, is situated in the Bristol Channel, that body of water that seperates the Welsh and North Devon coasts, the nearest landfall to the west side being North America. As such, the island is whipped frequently from all four quarters by the ferocious Atlantic winds.

Some would say that I am mad to even contemplate going to such a place, but they are safe and sound for the most part tucked up in their padded cells. I jest. It takes all sorts to make this world, and if they are happier to bake themselves to a crisp along with hundreds of others on some southern European beach and get drunk with their friends, then that means there is all the more of Lundy for me to enjoy.

Lundy is one of those places where the stillness and the silence just hits you seeping slowly into your consciousness, until there is nothing left, nothing that it except yourself, for that is the gift that the island brings, the gift to know that although you may be alone, you are never truly alone in the company of nature. The sound of the sea and the birds as they wheel through the air is all encompassing, as you walk surrounded by nature on all sides - the green, or at this time of year, brown of the island surrounded by blue, blue sea and the smooth rocks below, a playground for the terrestrial animals that inhabit the island. Lundy gives me the opportunity to completely relax, away from the trappings of modern life for a week, or maybe two, and be busy doing absolutely nothing.

I returned from the island on Friday, on the helicopter via Hartland Point, and already it seems like a lifetime ago. During the 17 years that I have spent visitng the island, and I have been many times, I have pondered many times on the significance of this very special place, and the hold that it appears to have in my heart. It represents so much - but most of all the freedom to be truly be myself. There is wonderful sense of freedom and openness that the island brings, to stand on the highest ppint with the wind streaming through my hair and to feel the salt sea spray on my lips stinging my skin is such an experience that you cannot describe. Descriptions as always lessen the intensity. One has to go to the island to experience it for oneself.

The irony is that this haven, this sanctuary, this unique way of life could not exist were it not for mainland life, for the islanders depend on the mainland for everything - the pilots who fly the helicopters and the Captain of the island's boat are the islands lifeline, keeping them fed, watered and clothed and ensuirng their survival. Without these services, none of it would be possible, so to those men and women, I am eternally grateful.

I am also eternally grateful to my own employers, for giving me the means to escape to this sanctuary when I feel the need, and providing me with the time in which to do so. The last week went by as always in a whirl, and it seems no time at all since I was driving down the M5 towards Hartland and the North Devon coast to make my way to another week of adventures. Is this though the real world, and my real life, I wish that it were so, but I know that it it not - time spent on Lundy, as in other holidays can only ever be a respite, and I am grateful that it is so, for it is the knowledge of that limitation that makes it all the more precious, and gives it all the more meaning. So, when I return to work tomorrow I will not be sad, but grateful for every precious minute that I spent on that wondrous piece of granite, and I shall be counting down the days until the next trip to the Isles of Scilly in June.

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