19 January 2011

Final thoughts . . .

We left Bardsey on the 21st May 2010, after a few days of heavy and persistent fog; so much so that I wondered if I would actually see the island as we left. However, the sun made a gentle break through and the day warmed as we waited and watched the lighthouse delivery helicopter shuttle supplies from the offshore ship to the island. Eventually Colin came into sight and our island life, which we had been packing up for several days, was transferred to Benlli III and we glided away.
The journey back to the mainland was taken at a gentle pace; we saw Ernest and Christine making their way to summer on Enlli and then Colin stopped the engines mid- Sound to watch porpoise fishing in the calm sea. Eventually the transition was complete, we found ourselves back at Porth Meudwy loading the land rover and trailer, a much easier task than back in October. As we said our farewells Colin asked for our thoughts and I gave him mine which I still feel sums up our winter experience. I would not have done it without Jim and he could not have done it without me.
We had a truly once in a lifetime experience and still feel truly thankful that we were able to do this. Some times in the bustle of everyday life I find myself stopping and thinking, wondering what is happening right now on that hidden gem that is and always will be Bardsey. We learnt a lot about ourselves, about our vulnerabilities but also our strengths, what we are happy doing and what we need in our lives. We hope we can take these lessons on into our future adventures.
Our thanks go to everyone who helped us to fulfil our dream and helped us to maintain it for seven months, but especially to our children, Jenny and Mike, who kept the home fires burning and kept up the supply of chocolate. We love you.
Also, thanks to readers of and commentators on our blog. Finally, here's a random selection of our favourite photos.

29 May 2010

The sound of silence

A strange thing happened today and nobody knew. We have had fog for a couple of days, the fog horn had been our constant backing sound track, and I was quite worried that I might not actually be able to see the island before we leave on Friday. The view from our kitchen door was often restricted to just the front yard.
Out to sea a boat had appeared just off Pen Cristin and we heard on the grapevine that it was a Trinity House lighthouse ship, probably delivering water and fuel to the lighthouse. Then mid morning today both the lighthouse and the ship blew their foghorns in rotation, then both fell in to an eerie silence in the white out conditions.
It was only later that someone, surfing the net, discovered that the Bardsey Light foghorn had been decommissioned permanently. Modern shipping, apparently, no longer needs a foghorn signal. Well, maybe ships don’t, but what about the rest of us?
Mel Stacey has penned a poem to mark the passing.


Sound Silenced
A notice came through in April
And I received it two days late, too late.
The sound once intermittent, then persistent
Had been silenced.
No reason given, no consultation, or explanation.
Merely stark information.
No further notice will be given.
By Order
That evening, when news reached me,
I had strained my eyes
Through milky sea-merged Ceredigion skies
For a one-fifth flicker of the beam.
And in searching for the light
No sound came;
And now to mourn
Not being there for its passing.
On south end, west side, beyond the stack and horn
We dodged the thistles and thrust
The spectral birds out into evening’s veil.
As fog drenched down a cabin-fever day,
What option, but time trial races,
Around the tower and cottage compound
To beat the horn?
Has what we say and how we say it
No meaning anymore?
Must spoken word and soft inflexion give way?
Must we alone rely on looking, seeing, but not hearing?
You cannot tell by sight alone
So close your eyes and listen, listen, listen.
Chiffchaff and Blackbird’s announcing song
And solitary Redshank pipe.
As east wind brings the rumbling trundles
From Great Western trains
Holiday children clamour for steam and whistle cries.
And under night’s thick felted blanket mist
Tucked in around the cliffs
Through island sleeping
The foghorn cores its note and rhythm
Deep into my soul.
Mel Stacey
22nd May 2010
On the silencing of the Bardsey Fog Horn 19th May 2010.

15 May 2010

Shiants Auk Ringing Group logo clothing

This is not another opportunity to have an excuse to get yours truly on the blog, but an attempt to save on upload time here on the island. If you’re not a member of the Shiants Auk Ringing Group, then you need read no further. If you are, then please carry on . . . .

We now have a great new Razorbill logo for SARG, designed by ringing friend Pete Leonard that can be added to clothing & other items stocked by Design Plus Ltd. You can either order direct from them by following the directions on their website: http://www.designplus.co.uk/ or for those going to the Shiants this year and/or living in Notts, I can put together a single order and bring it to the Shiants for you. This will save a fair bit on postage, which I can then apportion across the order. If you want to take up this latter option, then you must have your order with me no later than Sunday, 23 May; we can settle up when you get the gear.

As an example order, for the gear, I’m wearing in the picture above; I’d need the following information for whatever you desire:

· Polo shirt - Black XL K405 £10.95

· Baseball Cap - Sunflower BB15 £4.45

NB VAT & postage will be added to this. Logo comes in just the one colour scheme.



13 May 2010

Closure in the withies

Plas Withy - regrowth

Plas Withy - freshly coppiced

Cristin Withy - regrowth

Cristin Withy - freshly coppiced

Cristin centre ride - before

Cristin centre ride - during boardwalk building

Cristin centre ride - boardwalk completed (view from opposite direction)

I mentioned down the blog, that there were still the lowland withies (Plas, Cristin & Ty Pellaf) to coppice and boardwalks to fix up there. When I first offered to do this, I was probably naive about what I was taking on. Since February, I have spent more than a hundred hours coppicing, removing a lot of the resultant brash and derelict boardwalks. Then there was repairing and replacing the boardwalks in the mist net rides, this included reusing 150 posts from earlier defencing work, laying about 60 metres of boardwalk, scouring the island for bits of wood to use, adding chicken wire to potential slippy areas, and hammering in 12 kg of nails & staples – I think I may have RSI from this☺. Next was the shredding of about half the willow prunings which produced 35 sacks of chippings, which are now being used as mulch on the soft fruit in the island’s gardens.
This would have been much harder, but for all the fetching & carrying by Steve & Ben Porter with the quad & trailer. Also, things speeded up towards the end with great help from Dai & Gwyn Stacey, and Richard Else on the chipping.
Along the way I ripped my wellies and waders (puncture outfits are not just for push bikes), got more cuts and bruises than I care to remember and soggy socks most days. However, I’ll also remember coppicing in the sun & snow, watching warblers flitting about within feet of me and hearing their bills click as they took insects on the wing, and being able to put up mist nets safely and in places where they’d not been for several years.