Steve Anderson

The Scillies tour (the Kelping process)

Page 4 of 6

May 2011

I caught the ferry with quite a few other visitors and Rose and Geoff who had kindly looked after me the night before, and we decided to start the visit to the island with a coffee at the very swanky St Martin’s hotel. This Hotel had a Caribbean feel to it as we sat out under the thatched sunshades our feet buried in the bright white sand that the beaches on the Southerly side of the island are famous for, soaking up the sunshine, even if the breeze did have a slight edge to it.

St Martin’s is different again to the other Islands; it has a very laid back feel to it, and is the third largest of the islands. Apart from the hotel it has a rather run down pub, the Seven stones, which did provide a reasonable pint and crab sandwich. The islands habitation is in essence formed of two small towns Lower town and Higher town! (The islands have a beautiful lack of imagination when it comes to naming towns, on Tresco the two main towns, both small villages in reality, are New Grimsby and Old Grimsby.) There is a small island to the north which is accessible by foot at low tide, and at the crossing point there are numerous stone patterns formed from large pebbles from the beach, not much is known about this work, although it is considered possible that they are of Viking origin. This is another island which seems to appeal greatly to any one of a birding disposition, and I was shown a Northern diver and a Wimbrill through the impressive telescopic optics of a friendly birder on my march round. For some reason St Martin’s feels slightly more remote than the other islands, more untouched by modern life, there is almost a monastic feel to the place. This may be due in part to much of it being heath land, and the two towns being located on the south coast leaving the rest of the island to its own devices. The campsite is situated in what was once a small set of fields each one surrounded by a fairly high hedge; these were planted to provide shelter from the elements for the growing of flowers, which was at one time the main economy of most of the islands. The down side of the hedge shelter is that the campsite does not have any real view, although it is a very small walk down to the lovely sandy beach. This would be a good camp site in a storm! Having viewed the campsite and the Island in general I was glad I had decided to stay put on St Agnes, although was very pleased to have spent the day on St Martin’s, and will definitely go back.

 

The next morning did not happen, I luxuriated in bed and made progress through my book, at midday I did my usual round the island march, enjoyed a pint in the pub then back to the tent for poached eggs (they welded themselves to the bottom of my pot when I dropped them into the superheated water), served on a bed of boiled sea spinach, harvested from outside my tent, set out on a foundation of ham. Fine eating indeed!

I was preparing myself mentally and physically for the evening ahead, because the Bristol fraternity had been quietly building in number over the day in preparation for a gathering at the village hall. Rob and Nikki from the Turks head had helped organise an evening of entertainment which was to feature a local band ‘Nut rock’ (named I think after a rock which bears the name of Nut, not the confection of the same name, or indeed to be confused with the British slang for a bald person according to Wikipedia), and ‘Lost 11’ which was the Bristol contribution.

I arrived as the “Nuts”, were giving it their best and found Niki behind the bar in the marquee that served for a standby pub next to the village hall, and armed with a pint of Turks went to see the band. I repeated this process with a bit of cautious dancing as the Turks ale kicked in until the bands and disco had finished, and joined Rob and a few hardy others to finish the delicious kebabs, and the last keg of beer, then after watching some of the pub staff enjoying the drum kit in the hall wandered back to the campsite at what turned out to be 6:00 in the morning. An excellent evening, with more banter and good music than I deserved!

I have never been drunk, but I have often been over served. (George Gobel)