Sunday, 7 August 2011

The Headless Viking

"I hear that the headless viking has been seen again", this was Kevin's last comment as the May Princess cast its ropes and headed back to Anstruther. He always starts this when I am in Fluke Street on my own. This is the first time this season that I have Fluke Street to myself and there are still 5 others 1/2 a mile away in the Lowlight so I am not completely abandoned.

As the island it has had a colourful human history on and off for 1000's of years with Viking massacring monks, hermits, smugglers, 350 years of lighthouse keepers, a 2000 year old burial chambers, 2 cemeteries, 1 of pilgrims and one of islanders, 2 lots of wartime habitation and numerous shipwrecks so if ever an island had a lingering atmosphere it is the isle of May. There are some stories of nighttime footsteps with murmured foreign voices, knocks on doors in the middle of the night when no-one else is on the island and ghostly faces and wailing in some of the lighthouse buildings but luckily Kevin's stories such as the nun with an axe and the bearded monk are not quite as believable and are purely to wind me up.

After the bedlam of being on Fluke Street with 15 manic seabird researchers and volunteers it does always take a day or two to get used to being here alone but quickly you get used to the quiet, the odd noises and the smells and then start to revel in the isolation and the tranquility. Occasionally the unexpected makes you jump like yesterday morning when I went down to the visitor centre to clean the loos early and as I went to open the first door I found it locked and gruff voice shouted "f*** off". As I knew where everyone else on the island was at the time this was a little surprise, was it the toilet troll ? or Kevin's viking caught short (being headless he might have struggled to communicate as he did). A minute later a chap emerged from the toilet as surprise to see me as I was to see him. It turned out he was a kayaker who had paddled over very early with his mate from North Berwick and he thought the island was empty and that it was just his mate trying the door to wind him up.

So I have just a couple more days to enjoy the solitude before our next volunteer Katie comes over and Jeremy will be back soon so I aim to enjoy it as much as possible by just taking in the full island experience.

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