Category Archives: Cornwall

a r r i v a l

990209.0754 land’s end aerodrome

back again . it’s a beautiful morning . fluffy clouds are shedding snow here and there , but the wind’s dropped and visibility is good . might even get a decent view of the islands . luggage is checked in , safety video is watched ( the horizontal hold went ape ) , we’re just waiting for the mail now and should be leaving in about half an hour .

.0830

we’ve just boarded . five of us in the eight-seater cabin . two birdwatchers , two people visiting to get background for a novel , me . the engines are fired up , pre-flight checks undertaken .

we start bumping over the grass , seagulls grudgingly moving out of the way . fine view over land’s end and the sea .

we turn and the throttles open . we’re up !

.0848

we land on st mary’s , having passed between snow clouds . st agnes was bathed in light .

.0922

i got the minibus down form the airport , took a few photos of the gry maritha unloading ( no sign of my crates ) , and now i’m sitting aboard the spirit of st agnes , waiting to make the final leg of my journey .

it’s still pretty windy , and a damn cold wind at that . northerly . there was heavy hail here this morning . it’s a bright day though , and everything looks fresh . this is the first time i’ve ever been here in the winter , something i’ve wanted to do for years .

i spoke a little to the couple ( laurence and amanda ) who are here to do research for a novel . [ we cast off from the jetty ] . they were waiting with me yesterday for the aborted flight . turns out that laurence’s grandmother visited nournour , one of many a prehistoric settlements on st mary’s , and was so taken that she commissioned laurence to write a novel set there . so , there’s someone here on an even stranger pretext than mine .

st agnes hoves into view as we round the garrison , the fortified promontary at the west end of st mary’s . the squat lighthouse gleams white in the winter sun . this is the oldest standing light in the british isles , mid eighteenth century i think . and while we’re talking extremes , st agnes is the most south-westerly community in the british isles .

.1717

righto . i’m sitting here in my kitchen at tamarisk farm . through the door i look out over thick foliage , the lighthouse rising above it against a backdrop of plump clouds washed pink in the setting sun . it is a long narrow room , with windows running along either side , a dark red concrete floor , a white wooden roof . down one side my 21 inch monitor , hard drive , printer , phone and scanner are set up . i’ve rigged a phone line from johan’s adjoining workshop . everything is connected and operative .

as it turned out my freight preceded me by half an hour . i found it stacked on a trailer in the middle of the island , driven up from the quay by unknown hands . i hastily found a tarpaulin and covered it just in time for another sleet / hail shower . later the trailer appeared outside the farm so i set to work unloading everything and setting up . johan arrived back from the mainland just as i was finishing . we talked about starting points over a cup of tea .

this evening’s mission is to drop in on sue major , who teaches the island’s ten children of primary age . tomorrow evening is quiz night in the turk’s head , open only for two nights a week at this time of year . a chance to meet more of the islanders .

it’s pretty cold . i’ll try to track down a pair of thermal fingerless gloves to type in .

i’m so happy to be here at last . now it’s time to start discovering where this is all leading .

: cH

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i n c l e m e n t

990208.1507 land’s end aerodrome

the phrase used by the pilot was < in the lap of the gods > . i may be flying out sometime this afternoon . or i may not .

i’m sitting here in the flourescent-lit cabin which serves as waiting room , windows lashed by rain and wind . the forecast is for winds reaching force nine in the islands . here on the mainland it’s no more than six or seven . taking off under these circumstances doesn’t seem to pose too much of a problem . landing , on the other hand , does .

yesterday morning was bright and clear . the drive down from gloucestershire was without incident . a great feeling of escape . my heart always lifts at the moment when the a30 plunges down over the lip of dartmoor and a breathtaking vista of rolling hills , light and shadow , extends to the distant horizon . even in the sluggish and unwieldy van it was a joy to trundle round the familiar roads . i met up with my mother , my sister anna and her husband adam in hayle as arranged yesterday afternoon . we braved the wind and went out for a short walk on the sand . i always loved the beaches down here in the winter . there’s a melancholic beauty and bleakness which i find supremely calming . and of course , no tourists .

early start this morning , reloading the van and driving down to the quay at penzance . everything was weighed and loaded into shipping crates amidst
pirouetting fork lifts and lorries unloading supplies for the islands . the
driving rain made me glad of those hours with the shrink wrap .

the docker who helped load everything up was not enthusiastic about computers . < when someone invades and turns the power off they’ll be no bloody use at all . who wants to spend all day sitting in front of a screen anyway ? > . i told him that broadly speaking i agreed with him , but pointed out that they actually made quite good weapons if dropped from a decent height .

looking out of the windows , i see that someone has just got into the small
plane’s cockpit , poked around and got out again . the flight was due to leave a few minutes ago . no decision yet .

i’ve arranged with david peacock to have a boat waiting for me at st mary’s to take me over to st agnes . i’d better call and warn him that the plan might be changing .

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still no decision . before we can fly the pilot needs to be confident that
there is a fall-back landing strip which can be used should conditions at st mary’s be impossible . crosswinds are too strong at lands end , newquay , rnas culdrose and raf st mawgan .

.1630

it’s final . no flight today . back to hayle and hopefully more luck at 0825 tomorrow . i managed to get through to david peacock and call off the launch . the plane’s been wheeled back into the hanger .

: cH