Every year, for a week in June, I spend my summer holiday on The Scilly Isles. For those of you not familiar with these islands they lie not far off the south-western tip of Cornwall, and they really are a jewel in the crown of our British coastline. There are five inhabited islands: St. Mary's being the largest in size and population, and then Tresco, St. Martin's, St. Agnes and Bryher, plus hundreds of tiny uninhabited islands.
Mum and I go together; it is a precious few days of holiday for my mum, as she is a full-time carer for my dad since he suffered a very serious stroke 14 years ago. We fly from Newquay; it is only a short 20 minute flight to reach the Scillies and so very convenient. I do feel a little guilty about flying, but after being sick on the boat as a child I vowed never again!
When we set off at 8.15am from Newquay the weather was sunny and slightly hazy, but approaching the islands the cloud cover had thickened to such an extent that we couldn't land! The pilots rely completely on eyesight to land the plane, so we had no option but to return to Land's End airport,
where you actually touch down in a field!
The plane is a little Twin Otter with propellors and seats 15. You sit right behind the pilot and
co-pilot and can watch all the action on the controls.
The weather remained sunny and clear at Land's End, but all we could do was sit and wait until a weather window opened up on St.Mary's. The islands are renowned for their own micro-climate. After an hour's wait we made a second attempt, and were successful, though it was still touch and go!
The landing is very exhilirating as you approach the cliffs head-on!
A half-hour boat ride on the 'Voyager' takes us to St. Martin's, the most easterly of the inhabited islands. This is our 7th consecutive year staying on St. Martin's, so we know all the island's secret hideaways.
'Lucent wave, flash in sparkling bells o'er the coloured stones and tiny shells....
Lave the shelving rock, flood the glassy pool,
Sway the foliage 'neath its crystal cool.....'
St. Martin's only has one road, and not a tarmaced one at that. It goes from Lower Town through Middle Town to Higher Town, but the island is littered with little footpaths everywhere, just inviting you to explore..........
This is the secret entrance to our accommodation!
The path opens out to a small outside eating area, before you enter the little stone built cabin.
The view from the cabin is just breathtaking!
The organic farm where we stay is run by the Morton family, and Adam the eldest son is a fisherman. For the last few years he and his wife Fiona have been running a fish and chip eat-in and take-away from the farm cafe. This year we arrive to find a new wooden building on site - a dedicated restaurant to house their ever more thriving business. Adam has won the BBC Food and Farming Award for Best Take-away, and deservedly so. I haven't eaten a more succulent piece of fish (pollack we think) in a crispier batter, truly scrumptious! The fish is all line-caught by Adam and the peas and potatoes to make the chips are grown on the farm. You don't get more local than that.
Another of the sons grows flowers (mainly scented pinks) to supply the island's mail-order bouquet business.
The northern part is wild and windswept, with only low-growing heathers and
the variety of lichens is fantastic.
Wild flowers and grasses abound......
The sandy path that leads to the entrance to the farm
and this is 'Honeysuckle Lane' ,
the scent of wild honeysuckle is everywhere on the island.
This is my favourite beach: Perpitch.
Mum just having a paddle!
Collecting a few shells and interesting bits of seaweed. The sun was soooooo hot I was very grateful indeed for the small bit of shade I managed to find under this bush!
Mum and I always have a Scrabble tournament when we are there. I'm sorry to say that mum thrashed me 3 - nil !
Quite possibly Adam in his fishing boat!
Where we sat on the cliffs here a family of wrens were flitting about amongst the wild flowers. All the birds on Scilly are very friendly as they have so few predators, and will hop right up to you.
It's paradise isn't it? If only the sea wasn't sooooooo cold!
Some of the locals have set up little stalls selling succulents and sempervivums.
Toby runs the island bakery, and makes a damn fine homemade lemonade!
Dappled shade, the trees are few and far between.
Down at Old Quay is the best place to catch the last rays of the evening sun
and Par Beach for the morning sun
A boat full of day-trippers arrives from St. Mary's
For our last evening we climb up to the highest point and watch the sunset
and the moon reflect on the water, which is as still as a pond
My friends Chez and George from Bristol came to join me for the last three days, as mum had to return home on wednesday. Before beginning our respective journeys home we had a good few hours to enjoy exploring the main island of St. Mary's.
We walk the coast path to the ruins of an Iron Age settlement
You can clearly make out the round house walls and entrance doorways, as well as hearths and store cupboards.
There is also a burial tomb, very well preserved.
From the air on the flight home I can see the boat 'Scillonian' making her way out of St. Mary's on the journey to Penzance.
I am not too sad to say goodbye to these beautiful islands as I know I shall be returning again next year
There are wonderful views of the north Cornish coast to enjoy on the way home; St. Ives and St. Michael's Mount in the distance on the other side
and Polly Joke, my favourite beach when I was growing up,
and Crantock with its great sand dunes, just outside Newquay
and Newquay itself, the town where I grew up.
Hope you too have a summer holiday full of fantastic memories, wherever you go.