Updated: Mar 1, 2020
7:30 am. The calm and silent stillness of the morning is broken by the constant chatter and song of bird call. As I sit outside the farmhouse door, the colours of the sky and sea are silver grey and the dark silhouettes of the islands appear to float in neither sea or sky, they mark the only horizon. Bishop Rock is shrouded in a dark sea mist of grey rain and the Round Island fog horn sounds. I sit under the silver edged cloud as the sun attempts to escape its cover. There is not a breath of wind, complete stillness.
Even at this early hour the bumble bees work hard upon the violet blue Echiums. All around the farm and little tracks of Bryher lay the discarded remnants of snail shells. The snail long since eaten by the hungry thrush, feeding its young, the crushed and broken shells are strewn about in great numbers.
The thrush is a great friend to the farm in May, surprisingly bold, they hop and spring along with us as we dig and plant, always on the lookout for worms and insects to forage and feast on. Their beautiful speckled bellies, long slender legs and cheeky eyes, give this bird such great character. Their call is a high pitched, joyful trill.
A group of thrush are called a hermitage. The dictionary describes the word “hermitage” as a retreat, refuge, haven, sanctuary and small and remote. It seems in a way so appropriate, that a bird whose numbers are in such decline, inhabits or takes refuge on Bryher in such large numbers, a hermitage of thrush on a hermitage.
4pm. The stillness of the early morning has lasted all day. The occasional shower of fairy dust-like drizzle seems to have cleared and the hot sun has broken through. After a hot, sticky afternoon working on the tomatoes in the poly tunnels, a cool, muscle and back stretching swim across the half mile or so to Tresco is just what I need.
The sea is a deep indigo blue and the post box red Tresco and Bryher gig stands out as it glides its way down to the racing that is due to start soon. Down at quay there is a slight flurry of a breeze to disturb the surface of the water, but it is barely enough to move the trees.
The swim starts out as a steady crawl, no harder than usual. The waters are clear and a pale jade green. With the sun behind me in the west, the coast of Bryher slowly passes as I head out into mid channel. Here the water becomes colder and a dark bottle green blue. A strange, thick current begins to swirl around my limbs and I can feel the water move and push against the flesh on my legs. It is a hard current to swim through and I find myself gently drifting to my right and Plumb Island. I am glad that I have Graham in the punt beside me for reassurance. I relax and work hard to move steadily across the open stretch of water. It seems to take a long time to reach the harbour and then the beach at New Grimsby and I am relieved to get my feet onto the sand and dry off and warm up.
A good strong swim that was a challenge, and as the island returns to darkness and silent stillness I know I will sleep well tonight!