The Isles of Scilly – June 2012

The stormy days at the end of last week have gone and the sea is much calmer as we sail out of Penzance and turn west for the Scillies.  Helped unload the small mountain of kit from Jerry’s car, then he went off to collect Viv and Craig from wherever they left their camper van.  Boarded Scillonian III after handing over our kit to be stowed into a steel container and lifted onto the foredeck.  Soon seated at a table in the bar with a pint (bottled) of St Austell Tribute in front of me.

In the past I have always claimed to have seen either basking sharks or porpoise/dolphins from the ship, this time there was nothing – or the captain didn’t bother to draw our attention to them.  But perhaps the bumpy sea makes them less visible – or less inclined to bask/frolic.

I spent three whole days on St Agnes.  A tiny island but lots to draw, and birds to identify.  I also took a couple of books so that finding a sunny spot to sit and read, occasionally glancing up at the scenery, becomes attractive.  On a small part of Sunday clambered over granite to get a good and isolated viewpoint.  Heard an insistent call.  The fine optics of my Lumix camera soon revealed a tiny but noisy wren, seen below in full throat.

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That stuff its sitting on is a short bushy lichen.  We are talking small bird here.

Monday was fine.  The others went to Tresco but I stayed on Agnes and painted stuff.  I won’t force that on you – instead a few photos.  Spent nearly two hours drawing and painting from this horse shaped rock – it looks more like a seated calf from the other side – no it really does.  But  haven’t got a picture of that.

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In the afternoon I crossed the sand bar from St Agnes to Gugh and visited two favourite features there – the standing stone on the east

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and one of the burial chambers on the west – looking over to the slipway, quay and pub (Turks Head).

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I also discovered a sundial made of driftwood and pebbles.  The design seemed correct, but the gnomon has slipped its moorings and was no longer at an angle equal to its latitude.  I think it was when made, and the foot of the gnomon cut the 6am to 6pm line.  Seemed well made.

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Went to Bryher on the Tuesday, and to my delight and amazement the landlord of the Fraggle Rock welcomed me back.  The last time was three years ago.  Started out with the rest of the crew but let them go on when I decided to stop and paint.  Met up with them at lunchtime at a cafe, then sloped away with Jerry for another visit to the Fraggle Rock.  More Proper Job from St Austell. Brewery.

We all went to St Marys on Wednesday.  I stayed in Hugh Town sitting on beaches or rocks and reading or sketching.  Just a short break around noon for a beer at the Atlantic Hotel, and to buy a Guardian.  Near the time of our boat home I went to the Mermaid and was joined by Tony then Jerry.  A stormy night made sleeping difficult.  I found a more sheltered spot for my tent the next night and slept much better, though five other tents suffered broken poles during the night.

Even as the wind began to moderate the waves came in big and bold, bashing against the granite coast.

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It may seem that the weather was bad, but generally it was fine.  This picture taken by Jerry might make you think otherwise – I think I look like one of those guys who didn’t get back from the South Pole.

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But another of Jerry’s fine photos should leave you with a better idea of this holiday:

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