I have not fallen completely into a wifi-free zone, just with the demands on our time over the last few weeks during the big ‘getting off the island’ shenanigans, and now the eccentricities of living with Granny and Papa Westcountry in their sprawling, full-to-the brim home while we are in an eclecticly bizarre sort of limbo, mean this is my first chance to sit down and type.
In the last week on the island, I think it is fair to say I drank a lot of coffee. Tiddler and I were fortunate to meet and say farewell to different friends from all different parts of our lives at coffee shops, parks, homes, beaches and woodlands. We did the grand tour, Tiddler waving like the Queen with curiously rigid fingers, fitting in everyone on our itinerary as best we could. We were given beautiful, thoughtful going away presents – a customised ‘travelling tin’ with minature champagne bottles and a citronella candle (to allow a future romantic moment on an European beach somewhere without having to sup bubbles through a midge net), a soft warm woolen blanket with the island’s famous tartan in soft toned blue and purple hues, a silky soft toy version of our island’s national and instantly recognisable wiley sheep, messages in cards that went far beyond a simple ‘good luck and we’ll miss you’. Further gifts and cards wait still fully underwraps with dates pencilled on the envelopes for Tiddler and I to open over the next fortnight when both our birthdays will fall within days of each other. Tiddler says thank you and goodbye and showers hugs and kisses on everyone before switching interest to something else, leaving I and Digger to see and feel more keenly the shadow of a tear in someone else’s eye, as well as our own.
In between all this we sold off the last of our furniture and Digger’s ladders, camped out on rolled up blankets on the floor and ate our meals on a picnic blanket in our former lounge. Tiddler queried her absent toys, but quickly found an old broom handle became an imaginary horse, the picnic blanket a pond, and the electric reading key- well I don’t know what that became as we couldn’t find it on departure and had to ask bashfully for our landlady to forward on our final meter reading. Possibly stuck in the garden somewhere I imagine as a sort of snail signpost.
We also managed to make a few last visits to some of our favourite haunts on the island. Tiddler enjoyed a run around an area of woodland that spilled out of a more formal garden, discovering mysterious and hidden places at every turn.
She spent sometime contemplating the beautiful views, even on the cusp of a summer storm.
Digger and I also wanted to make a point to say farewell to the tree planters. To a degree we feel that we, (and also Tiddler in terms of enthusiasm with a plastic spade and time spent trailing round after normally grizzly bearded blokes who take her under their wing and let her boss them around with tree planting instructions), have left a little part of a living legacy of our time on the island through the ground we have cleared and the trees we have planted. It is also of course, how Digger and I met, and how the seed of this idea we are now trying to embark on all really began.
We felt it fitting therefore to do a little bit of stealth birdboxing on some of our current tree planting sites. Digger had previously made some rustic looking birdboxes using a section from a felled tree. They had only gathered spiderwebs and snails in our own garden (despite many avian visitors for seed) and they had now long begun to shed their bark. Digger wouldn’t bring them in the van. I didn’t want to throw away something he had made. So we found a more suitable home for it, and perhaps they may enable a little more life in the woodland other than just the trees themselves.
The following pictures show Tiddler’s master plan- find a suitable tree, instruct Digger how to get up it from a safe position on the ground, put up the birdbox, admire the view, and then give the tree a final hug.
We also had a last look and tidy up at one of our large planting sites (due for it’s official opening at the end of the month) a commerative site of 1267 trees to mark the island’s fallen soldiers, and home also to lots of other trees including ash trees from space!
It is a shame we will not be here to continue to see these grow, but hopefully we, or at least Tiddler will be able to return to a beautiful broadleaved woodland in the future, where right now she spots frogs and ducks and hitches rides in wheelbarrows.
The final thing to say about the last week is Digger’s comment, driving my overladen car on to the ferry. I’d refused to throw anything else away, steadfastly bagging up my last house plants and squeezing them in, wrapping duvets over my knees in the passenger seat. We had to keep the windows wound down to ensure there was enough oxygen. Digger expressively forbade me opening the boot or side door for fear of me somehow launching half our possessions and Tiddler across the tarmac in some sort of jack in the box ejector seat scenario.
I’d mentioned my keyring felt very light, with no house key, and no work keys to weigh it down. Digger smiled. ‘I have no van key, no shed key, no metal shed key, no house key. Nothing. All we’ve got is your car key. I like it. I like having no keys’. He turns to face both Tiddler and I. ‘Now lets get on that ferry’.