Spreading Our Wings

This week has truly felt like a new beginning, a fresh start. Each spring is a time of new birth, renewal and growth, spurring us all on to good times ahead but with the easing of lockdown#3 and the fragile hope that it will have been the last, I feel more optimistic and "spring-like" than ever before.

Nature seems to have co-ordinated her very best for the opening up of our islands too. Sightings of puffins, huge pods of dolphins and the first swallows, have brought that familiar and reassuring sign that the world has kept spinning and summer is on its way. We have welcomed back our first guests, the weather has been stunning and I have been surprised by how happy it makes me feel to see guests enjoying themselves, it really lifts the spirits of the islands.

On Tuesday I spent a day on St Marys, very excitedly getting my hair cut...thank goodness, and taking a few new paintings into galleries. Having random conversations with unfamiliar people and seeing shops and cafes open, albeit with social distancing rules in place, was wonderful. Even to be back on good old Firethorn felt like a treat.

Today was to be our first family day out in...I can't actually remember how long. A day on Tresco. I made sure I swam early so as to catch the high tide. It was a cool, exhilarating swim, head down, streams of silver bubbles as arms worked hard. I saw the flash of two speedy fish dart below me and a few scuttling crabs, the water must be warming up.

The sky promised a warm day ahead as we took the Firethorn, bikes in tow, across the small channel to Tresco. We try to squeeze in everything we can, the thought in our heads that in the event of restrictions tightening up again, at least we would have had a great day out. The Abbey Gardens were stunningly beautiful, bursting with colour and scent, red squirrels hopping from tree to tree. Tresco is so perfectly perfect. In contrast to Bryher's more rustic charm. Even the self-seeded succulents on the walls appear to have grown in ordered symmetry.

We cycle along the coast, with Bryher to our right, out toward Appletree Bay. I stop and look back at our house and have a tiny pang of panic that we are all here and no one is there for the first time in months.

The low tide is breath-taking and soon takes my mind to a less anxious place. Soft white sandbanks lie quietly beneath the tropical turquoise sea. The rocks and islands hazy in a sun-diffused light.

Then Appletree stretches out before us, its great lazy arc the familiar view I see from my kitchen window.

By the time we settle on the beach, after lunch, the tide is at its lowest, with very little water between us and Samson. A lime-green covering of sea lettuce nestles between the black bladder wrack, a white gull forages amongst the rocks. I sit and stare out to sea and it is as if an artist has drawn the horizon with a ruler, turquoise below and powder blue above. The heat on my face is hot, almost too much, but after winter I let it soak in and warm skin and bone. No water means no boats, no noise, nothing to distract from sea, sky and island. I breathe.

The girls write in the sand with driftwood and trawl the rockpools for treasures. Before the soporific sunshine sends me to sleep, I go for a wade in the shallows. It never reaches above knee height and I am glad I swam earlier, now I can enjoy without guilt wondering through a seabed of heaped worm casts, sea lettuce and frilly pink weed, the name of which escapes me.

Away from the shelter of the coast, the easterly breeze is chilling, and after a while brings goose bumps to the skin, so I head back to the warm sand, the sheltered spot tucked under the bank, and snooze away a little of our day. In only a few hours away, it has felt like a weeks holiday. The change of scene, the spreading of our wings, has been a tonic for the soul. I hope you are able to venture a little further, meet people you do and don't know and enjoy all the spring brings.

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