I Live With Sand...

between my toes, through my hair and settled on any surface it finds.

It is an inevitable part of tiny island life, but even more so when it has been so dry and hot for so long.

The sand drifts in the air, almost unseen, but for the cloudy layer upon the windows, obscuring the view like frosted glass. The ground has become baked and cracked, taking on an arid desert feel and the plants that line the sandy tracks wear a thick coating of dust.

Down at Church Quay, where the beach reaches the land, sand has encroached quite considerably up on to the road, leaving knee-high dunes drifted against the walls, soft and tropical to walk over but tricky to negotiate on a bike or in a vehicle, four wheel drive is a must on Bryher. Our crop of new potatoes are the best we have ever had, buried deep in moisture-rich sandy soil, we quickly fill our bucket with these nuggets of white gold and picking them up with the sun on your back feels idyllic.

With tiny island living you feel the extremes of weather more acutely. These recent weeks of scorching sunshine and cold drying easterly winds have stunted the lush growth that April and May normally bring. In true farmer style, Graham is moaning about there being too little rain, and it is true, we are now reaching the point of concern over the lack of grass for the cattle, and the possibility of not having enough winter feed, which we cut in June. Bringing in feed from the mainland would be no easy task, and very expensive. Perhaps the storms and torrents of rain predicted in the coming days will signal the end of the drought and replenish dwindling supplies.

For those visitors and folk who are on holiday, or don't rely so closely on the weather and seasons, this fabulous spring has been a tonic for the soul, especially after a winter of lockdown, and of course the swimming has been bliss.

Today has been another calm and sunny day, with that wonderful slow Sunday feeling. The feeling that you have all the time in the world to be sleepy, to walk gently, to swim, to drink coffee and eat freshly baked cinnamon buns.

As the last of the tide washes into the channel, we walk across Bryher towards Hangman's Rock, a favourite swim when the conditions allow.

With only the slightest drag of a current, and not a breath of wind, the sea is gin clear. Light dapples and dances on the turquois surface, distracting the mind from the coolness of an early morning swim. We swim, heads above water soaking in the sun on our faces, along the near-side of the rock. The water darkens to almost black as we slip under the shadow cast by this great monument.

Above us gulls watch, curious but indifferent to the three little heads bobbing below. The tide is strong enough to require some effort of stroke, but we make steady progress and soon enjoy the open sea to our left, the towering black rock to our right and a deep bottle-green sea below. In the glint of the sunlight as it cracks bright around the rock, a shag suns itself, lean silhouette on a rock. And then, before we know it we are caught in the free ride of the tide as it swings us gently back towards Kitchen Par. Skimming through a bed of tickling weed and back over clear sand, we soon find ourselves touching the seabed once again.

It's almost too good to get out, except for chilled toes and icy fingers that seek warmth from that hot morning sun. The fishing boats bob and a silent yacht slips towards the open Atlantic.

Now, with a hot shower in mind, we trundle back through the town, the temptation of coffee and cinnamon buns whilst sitting in the sun too hard to resist.

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