p i t t e r p a t t e r

990622.0101 tamarisk farm , agnes

i lie on my bed in johann’s lean-to . whitewashed granite walls , sloping corrugated roof , blue and white striped cotton curtains , a bare bulb slung from the ceiling . the wind has dropped and i hear only the ever-present grinding of the sea .

my heart is filled with emotion . tomorrow i move to st mary’s . my boxes are packed and arrangements have been made with the launch and the carriers . i know i will return regularly to this island and my nostalgia is foolish . but i do feel that i am leaving . my relationship with the place and its people will change . but something of me remains .

it has been an evening of intense experience . supper with johann included crab , potatoes and mange touts from the island . john elliot gardiner’s heart-stopping recording of bach’s st matthew passion in the background ( or perhaps the foreground ) then i attempted to set up a bt talk21 email account for mike and christine hicks , which aroused the usual rage at the pitiful shambles of desktop operating systems , and particularly windows . i accidentally discovered a highly entertaining site at http://www.clickfree.co.uk , which i don’t imagine will be there very long .

after i’d done all i could with mike’s machine , we went outside with his four and a quarter inch telescope . today is the solstice , with a half moon to boot , so there was rather a lot of light around . but it is a perfectly clear night , and there is minimal light pollution here , so the views were still startling to me . at 170 times naked-eye size mike showed me stars which were actually binaries , mars clearly visible as a ruddy disc , the moon swollen beyond the lens’ bounds with her razor-crisp pocks and gashes . my first opportunity to use the star-chart which christian brought me when he came to stay . i was transfixed .

finally i went for a walk round the coast in the moonlight , as i have done so many times before . memories of all those previous explorations surged across my consciousness as i trod across sand , grass and boulder , the cradle of the bishop rock , peninnis head and round island lights holding me always in its rhythmic swing .

990623.0054 watermill , st mary’s

lying in my tent , a hitec green pod nestling amidst the trees which surround gaz and button’s wooden cabin . although it has been an afternoon of unbroken sun there is now a gentle soft rain pattering on the trees and on the gossamer membrane about me .

i lie on my front in my cosy purple bag , cushioned on the light blue mat bought for yoga practice but scarcely ever used . my large and small rucsacks lie beside me on the left ( there is plenty of space ) . my camera is to my right . the cardboard box containing all my clothes is under a projection of the fly-sheet , accessible from where i lie by unzipping a mesh screen .

i have clipped my tiny maglite to one of the eyes which secures a panel over the window above my head . it hangs down , shedding a pool of light over the screen and keyboard of my psion . just enough to work by .

if i am not mistaken , the last time i slept in a tent was in february last year , in a clearing off a dirt road half-way up a mountain in northern madeira . i was travelling with three friends from finland , who were filming for a multimedia project . kirmo , matti and pepe .

prior to that it was july 1997 , when i spent some time treking in lapland with kirmo . one of the most magical journeys i have ever been on .

as i knew would be the case , i find myself enormously relieved to have the move behind me , to be able to get to work sorting eveything out again . the event itself was no great trauma . the sun and the cheerfulness of everyone made it pass lightly . this morning on agnes ( technically yesterday morning ) i stacked all my boxes in a tall wire cage . johann’s eternal tractor has an ingenuous fork-lift attachment which hoisted up my worldly goods and rattled them down to the quay . tuesday is a big delivery day since the steamship company’s freighter , the gry maritha , makes a crossing from penzance . consequently the scene at launch ( as it is called ) was frenetic . many of the island men ( and a few ladies ) come down to load and unload the lyonsse lady , the artery connecting the off islands to st mary’s . i took lots of photos .

once everything was unloaded , my caged boxes were hoisted aboard , along with my bicycle , and we were off . a lovely crossing , many yachts on the water . the crew had fun with the air-horn on my bike ( repeatedly ) . at st mary’s the carriers were waiting at the quay . my things were winched onto a truck and away we went on the final leg . most of the boxes were dropped off in the shed at normandy farm , which its owner had swept out and also installed a desk consisting of a big door , complete with its handle , on sturdy trestles . it still smells a bit odd ( but the dead starlings have gone ) and bt haven’t quite managed the line yet , but i have a good feeling about it . the first home of the scillonia digital workshop .

finally up to watermill with the last couple of boxes . a brief audience with florence watts , the delightfuly sharp-witted eighty-year-old whose land this is . then unfurl the tent , set up and enjoy a lovely evening with gaz and button . after supper we watched david lean’s film of blithe spirit , noel coward’s superb play . rex harrison and margaret ruthorford starring .

the torchlight is yellowing . it’s getting harder and harder to write .

990623.1523 watermlll

the light finally gave out as i slipped my psion into on of the tent’s pockets and turned my thoughts to sleep . i slept well , though i will be glad to have something a little softer on which to lie . i woke up to birdsong and dappled light .

one observation i wanted to make last night is that there was no mention of money in my dealings with the launch or the carriers . it is simply assumed that i will , at some point , visit their offices and settle up . a fair price will , fairly arbitrarily , be decided in each instance . this is the usual style of business out here , based on trust , informality and individual discretion . it works well and i like it .

i’ve already spent about an hour this afternoon speaking to bt , trying to sort out the line to my office . but this is becoming an overly-protracted despatch . time to draw to a close and send it .

: cH

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