We live in a land of contrasts in the UK – there is so much diversity. Take the Lake District and Berkshire Downs, the Scottish Highlands and the Norfolk Broads, the wild Jurassic coast of Southern England and the sedimentary London basin, Fingal’s Cave, Salisbury Plain, Cheddar Gorge, and yes, there is even a touch of the Caribbean to be found 30 miles from the Cornish mainland. You don’t believe us?
Lucky belatrova took a boat from Penzance and went to a very small place in a beautiful archipelago. Tresco is a small island measuring about two and a half miles long by a mile wide, and it is one of the five inhabited islands which, together with 200 or so islands, islets and rocks, form the Isles of Scilly.
In 1834, the Duchy of Cornwall leased the Isles of Scilly to a liberal-minded squire, Augustus Smith, who became the Lord Proprietor of the
islands. He built his home, Tresco Abbey, alongside the ruins of an old priory and set about creating a garden containing plants from all over the world. Tresco Abbey Garden is internationally renowned as having one of the finest sub-tropical flora and fauna collections in the Northern Hemisphere. The family still run the business as the Tresco Estate, and own Tresco island.
As there are no predators or grey squirrels, the red squirrel was introduced recently and there is now a thriving colony of about 30. One was spotted in the Abbey Gardens, a flash of dark red moving amongst the Echium and Pelargonium. And being a birdwatcher of sorts, Mr b got very excited and spotted Oyster Catchers, Grey Heron, Terns, Ibis, Egrets and Godwits. He was also mobbed by angry sea gulls.
Later that evening with the tide slowly rising a shrimping party netted a generous catch which was cooked and then eaten at a picnic overlooking the harbour. As you can see, there are no half measures here: one carries tables and chairs to the top of a hill to get the most out of an occasion like this.
A sailing trip to the smaller island of Samson was a symphony of azure and greens, gentle wavesand distant bird cries, white sand and clear water. What an experience it was, tacking back to Tresco harbour – a commemorative ceramic is called for, and here it is, just out of the kiln:
Back at the workshop after this idyllic break, the sun, sea and clean air, combined with the walking, cycling and (ahem) swimming, meant that cobwebs were swept away and a desire to use Tresco blues came surging out of the belatrovian brush and onto one of our coffee tables.
Of course, like everywhere else in the UK, Tresco can be grey, battered and windy, but it was hard to imagine while we were there.