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Monday, 4 March 2013

Thursday 28th February

Well the letter has for the moment been put to one side, as the thoughts that precipitated it have gone with it. No doubt at some point they will come back, as the anger too comes and goes, but that will dealt with as and when it happens. For the moment at least, this is my last full day on Lundy and I intend to make the most of it.

I certainly made the most of yesterday – I set out nice and early (for me at least), intending to walk through what used to be the rhododendrons (sadly they are now all but gone) to The Quarries and then back via The Castle to look for those illusive goats. Instead I got it the other way around (still no goats), managing to get to The Quarries by about 1pm. There I found a nice comfortable rock to sit on to eat my Quorn Ham sandwich and drink my cauliflower and  broccoli soup before deciding that actually I did not want to go home and read, but would rather keep on walking – and so kept on walking I did.
Before I knew what had happened I had walked all the way to the North End. From all directions as I began to walk, people appeared as dots on the horizon. This week has been gloriously quiet on that front, and I intended to keep it that way, and so walked briskly in the opposite direction, since most of them seemed to be making their way back. One couple though were not, and as I got to the North End they asked me where I could find the beach, as they had heard of some steps that took them all the way down to the sea. I soon put them right, pointing out that it was not a beach, but more of a platform, and that if they wanted to know where it was they should follow me, as I was heading that way myself. Instead they toddled back up to The Lighthouse, so leaving them to it, I made my way gingerly down the steps, all the way to the bottom. The rail is a lot more eroded that it used to be, blown to bits I guess by the ever incessant wind (the weather that is and not mine, which makes a change).

Anyway, once at the bottom I found a dry place in which to sit and watch and listen to the sea. My arrival had been timed to coincide with low tide, so most of the rocks were exposed and with the north easterly winds, the sea was giving those rocks a good pounding, with spray surging up into the air. A solitary seal was bobbing about and kept sticking his head out of the water every so often, no doubt wondering what I was up to. I managed a few photographs before he disappeared. This is not really the time of year for them to be honest – like us they like the warmer weather so that they can haul themselves out on the rocks and sing. I have that then to look forward to in July.
Eventually the couple did join me at the bottom, where they sat looking very cosy snuggled up under a big fleece blanket. I took a picture of them when they weren’t looking! I must admit that I sometimes do get a bit envious of couples having someone to share this glorious place with, but I also feel (having been here in the company now of Coran) that you get more from being here on your own, both in terms of the solitude and the benefits that that brings, and also in terms of seeing more. Somehow the solitude seems to deepen the experience and make it all the more special. Not everyone though likes their own company as I do, and can spend this amount of time on their own. That much I understand, although I have my own theories as to why.

By about 3.30pm I was starting to get a little chilly anyway and back I slowly trudged, back up all those steps and the well trodden path, once again via the west coast path all the way home. When I got towards Quarterwall a little past the Earthquake Zone, the Kitchen Manager was there, hopping from foot to foot looking a little lost. He asked me if I was going back to the pub, and then explained that he and the rest of the islanders were taking part in a coastguard exercise, whereby he was the “casualty” and they all had to find him. I said that if I saw anyone in yellow trousers I would let them know where I had seen him.
An hour and a half later, I was just sitting down to dinner when I heard a radio crackling outside and saw torches shining in the distance. I rushed outside to be greeted by a man in yellow trousers searching for him. I informed him then where he had been and he and his companions with their torches aglow set off once again in search. It was getting quite cold by then, so I hope they found him quickly, although he has not long returned from Antarctica where I sure it was a lot colder than this.

Talking though of cold, once again my morning coffee is getting that way, and the island beckons. The sunshine that awoke me has for the moment done, but the skies are only part covered in cloud, so I am hopeful that it may yet return.
Onwards as they say and upwards. In this case, upwards and out of my chair.

It’s now 5pm and the sun is just beginning to snake its way slowly across the landscape, as it does in the hour or so before it dips beyond the horizon. It has once again been an eventful day. I walked all the way again the Lower East Side Path, where I once again encountered the group of deer with young stags, all the way on to Gannets Combe and back via the main path. Part of me wanted to continue walking on what I knew was my last full day, but the part that wanted to go home and rest proved stronger, or so I thought. When I got back to Quarterwall, instead of walking straight across Acklands Moor and back home, I kept on going through the village, taking photographs as I went. It was a hive of activity with the Oldenburg in dock, and various tractors and trailers trundling backwards and forwards with supplies – mostly from what I saw, bags of animal feed. Then it was up to The Castle to check whether the Oldenburg was indeed still here, and eventually by 4pm home via the Southwest field and the lovely pig pen near the heliport.
Now I am back, I feel a headache coming on with an ache in my shoulder and neck muscles.  I guess I have been carrying a heavy rucksack all week, not to mention the camera which seems to have been a permanent fixture around my neck. I must buy a proper bag for it when I get home, to keep it properly protected. The birds are soaring into the sky as I write, and as the sun begins to dip slowly ever more closer to the horizon. Once she is gone, I know that I will not see the island again until the morning and my final walk to the Tavern.

This week as ever has prompted much musing as to the nature of my relationship with Lundy.  I am not sure if I am any closer to reaching a conclusion, but I do know that it is is an intensely personal relationship which rivals sometimes even with Coran for my affections. Coran is of course a permanent fixture, whom I live with every day, whereas my relationship with Lundy is more transitory. It is almost one of those can’t live with, can’t live without things. I have tried to cut back on the amount of visits that I have, but somehow I always feel the need to come back. I know that there are other places out there to be seen and explored, and I have seen and explored more in recent years, but somehow it is not the same. Lundy is such a special place, that is so hard to define, and try as I might I don’t think I can ever bring it justice.
One thing that I do know is that the island is a very intense place, a place that seems to act almost like a mirror, bringing everything to the surface for us to look at – all the joy, all the fear, all the drama and all the deception, for we all like to deceive ourselves. Are we truly happy in our lives, or it is all just an illusion – most of life I have to conclude is, and it is us that gives it the meaning that it has for us. I guess then that I give Lundy all the meaning that it has for me too.

So, this time tomorrow I shall be back on the mainland, sitting in my hotel room near Taunton and wondering what lucky person has a week of Lundy adventures to look forward to. I have as always enjoyed my time here, despite the relentless cold and the somewhat lack of sunshine. Lundy is though beautiful in all weathers, from the howling westerly gales to those brilliant sunlit summer days. I know that I have two more weeks to look forward to in the summer, when hopefully I shall experience those long summer days once more.
For the moment though, it will be back to reality and tonight’s packing. I hope I am not too late getting home tomorrow, as I hate the hanging around, much as I love to also spend the time here. Once I know I am going, I want to do just that, leaving behind nothing but memories – memories and dreams.

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