Monday, 21 February 2011


After a slow start to the beginning of last week we had two rather hectic days. On Thursday we carried on checking rat bait stations, returning to the Eastern Isles and visiting The Arthurs (three separate islands linked by causeways at low tide). The weather was brilliant, blue skies, light winds and lots of warming sunshine. In the afternoon we took a trip to Bryher and after a fun ride on the back of a tractor down to Stinking Porth we helped to take down an old wire fence and replace it with electric fencing. So warm we were down to short sleeves!

On Friday the weather was not so good… We were helping to moo-ve some of the cows around to a few new grazing areas. It was quite a long day as there was a lot of work to do. First we set up the new areas of fencing, then the cows that were to be moved had to be gathered up into a corral and persuaded to climb the ramp into the trailer. As accessing the Garrison requires passing through a very narrow gatehouse the trailer being used had to be quite small, so the cows could only be moved two at a time. By the end of the day and after many journeys we were all quite tired and very wet, especially after the last hour or so spent in the driving wind with pin sharp rain lashing into us up near Deep Point!

Over the weekend we walked round St Mary’s a bit more, then on Sunday took a trip to St Agnes and Gugh. We also took advantage of the low tides to scramble out to Burnt Island and the rock beyond with its day mark.

Reading this blog you could probably be forgiven for thinking life here is all sunshine, fields of narcissi, birds, boat trips, table tennis and tranquillity (and if you have ever watched ‘An Island Parish’ you would probably expect tea with the vicar to be on that list). But really, just like when you get behind the scenes of any other small community on the mainland you quickly realise that there are hidden issues and disputes that seriously taint this charming image. In Scilly for example there are a vocal minority of people who occupy their time with opposing the Wildlife Trust. I find it amazing that there are people prepared to spend a great deal of time and effort fighting something as mundane (and ultimately beneficial to the local environment) as conservation grazing. A process which aims to reduce the amount of scrub land – bracken, brambles, European gorse – that smothers huge areas preventing anything more interesting from growing, ultimately aiming to restore the waved heath and open up new areas for people to explore, each patch cleared revealing new archaeology and interesting geography.

These people (and some of them really do need to cheer up a bit – you’re lucky enough to live in Paradise, at least try to enjoy it!) have a real vendetta against the Trust and whatever it tries to do, and some have even been known to growl at members of trust staff and their children in the street. Yes you did read that last sentence correctly.

It’s not as though there isn’t real battles that need to be fought in the Scilly’s. There is a criminal lack of recycling and in a place as confined as this there is no way of hiding that fact. The huge disgusting mound of rubbish piled up on the outskirts of Hugh Town is a permanent stinking eyesore of a reminder. There is a totally unfit for purpose incinerator that intermittently nibbles away at the ever expanding mound, but unbelievably on the infrequent occasions when it does operate it just burns, this resource isn’t even used to generate electricity (The Scilly’s rely on power brought across from the mainland via undersea cables).

As we walk around the coast, particularly on the uninhabited islands it’s the amount of plastic waste washed ashore from the Atlantic that really upsets me – great swathes of plastic bottles, netting and other detritus – rubbish from all over the world.

And stopping to think that this can only be a tiny fraction of what is out there floating around is a thoroughly depressing thought. Sometimes there is so much plastic buried under the long grass that it is almost impossible to take a step unaccompanied by the crunch of crushed plastic. This waste is not just unsightly but potentially devastating to the marine wildlife that depends on theses seas for life. Scilly is also regarded as one of the poorest areas in the UK. 85% of the islands income is dependant on tourism, it’s already expensive to get here so the increasing fuel costs we are all having to cope with have an acute impact not just on the food prices here but will also affect the number of people able to afford to come here to spend their cash. And on the subject of food I find it particularly impressive that through the power of internet shopping Tesco has managed to bankrupt the island’s independently owned (and only) wholesaler without even having a physical presence here. Wonderful! And of course the craze that’s sweeping the nation for bagging your dog poo and proudly hanging it from a tree is just as popular here as anywhere…

Would you not want to prioritise doing something about that lot before you decided to devote your life to fighting the very existence of cows? I wonder what’s next on their hit list? Cuddly toys? Terry Wogan? Human history contains a long, long list of individuals and groups being prepared to lay down their lives in the name of fighting oppression in its numerous guises; be it murderous dictators, religious intolerance, racial and sexual discrimination, political tyranny, etc, etc – and there can be no more timely reminder of all this than what is currently happening in various states in the Middle East right now. Living here for a even a short time you get the definite feeling that some people really don’t realise just how lucky they are.

Now, lets all skip outside together in the sunshine and pick some more daffodils shall we...

1 comment:

  1. Well-written and thought-provoking piece, kids. It really is amazing that some people can be so small-minded and petty and not see the wider picture. Have you been able to discover what anyone is trying to do (if anything) about, for example, the lack of recycling? If all rubbish is just mounding up in a pile, wouldn't it make more sense for it to mound up in several piles, some of which could ultimately be recycled...? Aaahhh you've some stories to tell us when you finally get back here - we'll have to have you doing after-dinner speeches!! Take care and see you soon - tell me more about this lambing in Glos pls!!!! x x (Kelly)