Monday, 4 April 2011

It all starts with it being an island

It all starts with it being an island. As islands go the Isle of may feels like an in between sort of island. At 139 acres in size (that is 139 football pitches) it isn't big enough to have a proper community (rather than a seasonal bunch of researchers) with roads and shops and it isn't just an uninhabited rock. But it is big enough to have drawn people and wildlife for thousands of years as all island do. People came in the past for food (seabirds and seals), and then solitude and sanctuary and then a place to live and work manning the lighthouses. Now people come to use the island for a place of scientific study and visitors are drawn by the excitement of visiting an island. It doesn't matter how big a stretch of water you have to cross to reach an island and for the Isle of May it is quite a big bit of water, 6 miles at its shortest, but crossing over to an island is always exciting. I see it on visitors on every boat trip and we feel it ourselves who live over here that the Isle brings isolation from the outside world, untainted air, a chance to leave behind everyday baggage even if only fleetingly, a closeness to the natural environment, lots of weather and being surrounded by sea. It is the magic of being an island that makes the Isle of May special and all the rest, the seabirds, seals, migrant birds, wild cliffs, big seas, historic buildings, lighthouses, world famous research and strategic war time importance all come from it first and foremost being an island.
And the 3 of us on the island felt that today as the wind continued to blow and no boat made it across again. Hannah is busy setting up for her PhD on shag parasites and their effects while Jeremy and I continue to get things organised for the beginning of the season. Jeremy took advantage of no boats to paint the floor of the visitor centre (please compliment it when you see it) though by the end of it seemed to be suffering from the paint fumes or too much Radio 2. Tomorrow was meant to be a rubbish day, that is a day when the huge mountain of equipment and furniture and stuff that have come on to the island to die are removed off but the high winds mean that the mountain will have to move next week now. Still we are hoping for the RIB to come over bringing more researchers that will give a new slant to the dinner time conversation.

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