We are travelling through
Cornwall and due to catch a plane next afternoon to the Scilly Isles. Taking the
scenic coastal road out of Falmouth, past Mawnan Beach the narrow, twisty road
climbs steeply. Just past a bend I try to change gear and loose it altogether.
We are causing a major traffic blockage. Somehow I manage to crash it into first
gear and nurse the car up to the top of the hill where I can pull in and allow
traffic to pass. My wife is left to walk up the hill about a mile in the pouring
rain! It takes about 45minutes for the breakdown service to get to us. The mechanic
spends some time under the bonnet but to no avail. He tows the car 25 miles to
the main-dealers in Penzance and we find very nice overnight rooms just up the
Monday morning. It is
still raining The garage will look at the car and get it repaired while we are
on the Scillies. I telephone the airport for advice. They say that their bus is
on its way into Penzance and will pick us up from the hotel. It takes us to Lands
End Airport for 10am where owing to the strong winds there is nothing flying out.
We are bussed back to
Penzance for a late afternoon helicopter to the islands. On arrival it is practically
a gale force wind and it is hard even to just walk from the copter to the terminal
building. A bus takes us to our lodgings on Garrison Hill. Later we have a meal
in a room overlooking the harbour and watch the boats being tossed around mercilessly.
We learn on the news that back home all the main roads are closed by snowdrifts.
week we take tours of the island by bus. The driver of the vintage bus is
and tells us all about the islands, their history, government, education
gig racing, wreck-salvaging, daffodil harvesting. He points out the various wild
flowers that grow on the island. It stops at a potter's studio. The rival
varies its route by going down some rougher tracks to viewpoints the other bus
cannot reach. The view from the golf course right across the middle of the
Town isthmus is especially magnificent. On the way back into town we see Mary
Wilson reading in the garden of her bungalow. Back in Hugh Town we visit
charity shop where I pick up a very nice sweater for £2 while my wife finds
a woolly hat for 50p.
after Mothers' Day
we make our way down to the harbour and get tickets hoping to see the puffins
However, we get on the wrong boat and are off to St Martins instead. A rather
blowy crossing that lands us at "Lower Town" by a luxury hotel just
12 years old. In the lounge is a roaring open fire by which we sit. The Australian
waitress, who hails from Sydney, serves "madam" with frothy coffee and
"sir" with lemon tea. Nicely warmed up we set off to walk the length
of the island's road. We can only take it slowly, but there are seats along the
way and we stop frequently. The profusion of flowers in the hedgerows is wonderful
with wild garlic, hottentots, splendid lilies, geraniums &c. The views are
of little rocky islands with sandy beaches, fields, that had been full of daffodils
but are now dying off, ringed by hedges that keep the full force of the winter
winds off thegrowing plants.
In the evening we go
to the Church Hall for a concert by Wayside Music. The music is played on old
instruments including a cornish bagpipe, a lizard, a symphonium, tenor and bass
rackets. There are also slides of various aspects of Scilly life even including
some of the experimental catamaran that broke up in the seas here only a week
ago. Whilst waiting for a taxi back we see a meteorite descending through the
on the island
morning we get on a boat for the Norad rocks. This takes us out to the uninhabited
in the northern part of the archipelago, with such names as Mincarlo, Scilly
Men-a-vaur, &c. The captain of the vessel gives a very intelligent commentary
on the birdlife we see. Mincarlo hosts a large group of breeding shags, shearwaters,
gannets and puffins. The puffins give us several splendid fly-pasts while the
boat hovers around offshore. We also see about half-a-dozen seals, two of whom
are basking on rocks in a wide sheltered channel between two islands. We pass
Shipman's Cove and Hell Bay before entering the channel between Tresco and Bryher
from the north. Unable to berth first at Tresco, we land at Anneka's Quay on
to let people off and then cross to Tresco where others disembark leaving about
nine people for the return to St Mary's. On the way back the boat stops to pick
two men up from the strand at uninhabited Samson. They have to climb a plank
on rocky ledges
On our last evening
we get a boat to St.Agnes. There are 17 passengers and going over the sea is not
too choppy. Whilst others go for a walk, the less energetic take the short stroll
to The Turks Head. Strangers gather around the tables to eat, drink and talk.
I have scampi and chips, while my wife has crab and prawn with herbisized potatoes.
Coming back it is very
dark and the winds are easterlies. We see the new moon shining clearly with Saturn
nearby, but as we get nearer to St Mary's the boat pitches quite a bit. We are
repeatedly hit by cold salty sprays and arrive back like frozen, drowned rats!
We shelter in the dark telephone kiosk on the harbourside and phone for a taxi
to take us back to our lodgings for the final time.
The airport bus comes
for us at midday and we have our last journey along the lanes of St Marys.
Back in Penzance we
are surprised to find that the bill for the car is much less than expected. All
they had needed to do was to adjust the clutch. We come off the A303 just after
Wincanton and travel down some narrow lanes, rather lost. We come out on a main
road and see a guesthouse across the road. We pull over and discover they have
a very nice ensuite double-room. In the morning it is raining and continues raining
all day with the exception of a few brief spells. Between Ashbourne and Buxton
the rain turns to sleet, the outside temperature dropping to 3 degrees Celsius.
My wife sleeps in the car while I shop at a supermarket outside Buxton to stock
up on food before getting home about 6pm. There are eight messages on the answer
the week-old message
Gerald England is a British poet, living on the edge of the Pennines with his lace-making wife and a Manchester terrier. He has been active on the Small Press Scene for over 30 years and runs the small press New Hope International. He edited The Art of Haiku 2000, a guide to haiku and related genres. He runs Haikutalk, an internet mailing list for the discussion of matters related to haiku. His Haiku Links are among the best I've seen on the haiku-related Internet.