Bertie: “Gor blimey, Bobby. Wednesday’s story about 2013 and the Samaritans was a bit heavy. Did it upset you writing it?”
Bobby: “Not at all Bertie. When I walked over that railway crossing with David, I knew it was an opportunity to put a couple of things straight. And also to close the book on the whole episode.
I was able to tell the world that the fictitious Jim was, of course, me. Something many people realised anyway. I could also confirm my conviction that the whole thing was caused by two medical practitioners treating me at the same time. Something that should be impossible with both accessing the same patient data base. It also gave me the opportunity to thank the Samaritans. The book is now closed. Like all books it could be reopened, but I would prefer not to. I have moved on big time from those dark days.”
Bertie: “Well Bobby. This week we are looking forward optimistically. I have asked Hefyn to narrate a story about Wales.”
Hefyn: “Thank you boyo. It’s a real privilege to be the narrator for all your trips to Wales from now on. With so much uncertainty and anxiety in the world, I think we need some optimism. Bobby told me he went to an Al-Anon meeting last week (Zoom), where the topics were drawn by random out of a virtual hat. Bobby drew ‘Optimism’ and related this.
For the last few years, I have stayed on Skokholm Island. Nearby Skomer is full of memories from the past and the people I shared the island with, including Diddley. Skokholm was a fresh start. I was booked in last August, but then the island was closed. The Wildlife Trust gave me a choice. 1) refund, 2) donate the deposit to the Trust, 3) allow them to transfer the booking to 2021. Same time. Same room in Lockley Cottage. He chose 3) and is looking forward to landing on Skokholm (Dream Island) first week in August. No ifs or buts. He is going to Dream Island in August…
So, simple. Whether he gets there or not, at this present moment in dark, cold January, he is looking forward to August on Dream Island. Dreaming of how it will pan out…
In the first instance he has to find a new place to stay on the mainland, now that the lovely Rosemary has retired. You cannot go to Skokholm without staying for a while on the mainland. It has been lovely to stay each year in Solva, but maybe he will find a new place to stay that’ll be a new adventure too.
So here we are dreaming
The B&B is booked. The bears are in the car. Let’s go the scenic route; down through the Cotswolds to Wales and through Brecon. As soon as they see the signpost for St Benfro, they know they are nearing ‘home’.
The B&B will be lovely, and know that they may need to leave early one morning to catch the best weather conditions for the crossing.
Richard, the warden, rings them and says… ‘Heh Bob – be at Martin’s Haven tomorrow at 07:00. Best time for the weather and sea conditions.’
First job is to go to Haverfordwest and buy a week’s food. Over the years that has become a lot simpler than you might think. Back to the B&B. Put the perishables in their fridge until the morning. Pack the bags securely and set the alarm for 05:00 to allow time to drive to Martin’s Haven, drop the gear off and drive back to park the car at West Hook Farm.
It’s a short walk back. Past Lockley Lodge, where Bobby had his heart attack. and down the lane to the cove, There will be a few others there waiting for the Dale Princess.
It’s a glorious morning on St Brides Bay. A light breeze, with beautiful clouds scudding across the blue sky.
Here comes the Dale Princess. A boat that has transported him to paradise for over thirty years.
They all form a chain down the narrow path and gangway onto the boat. Karl is the skipper extraordinaire. A Welsh pirate who has been working on the boat all those years.
And off they go alongside the Marloes peninsular to Jack Sound, which can be rough. Straight on for Skomer. Left through the Sound for Skokholm.
Out into the open sea. Skomer alongside. Skokholm ahead. The crossing is an adventure in itself with a very choppy sea. Brilliant.
He can feel the excitement building. There’s a Gannet. Lots of them. There maybe Puffins, but their breeding summer is almost over. Many have raised their single young one and left the island for the ocean. Soon they will be all gone. True seabirds, they only come to the islands to breed. Bobby knows that they will be mostly gone when he books August. But after years of close encounters with Puffins on the islands, he loves the peace that early August brings to Skokholm.
Pulling round the headland, we head into South Haven. There’s Richard and Giselle. All ready to greet them.
The dumper truck is ready and it’s another chain off the boat with the luggage. Up the hill, and tea at the wheelhouse. Cups of tea, while Richard explains the intricacies of composting toilets. Bobby actually took a lot of pictures of composting toilets, but deleted them. Shall we just say that everyone, men included, have to sit down. Liquid in the front, solid at the back. Got it! Ha ha ha ha. It could be worse. Long term volunteers spend weeks on Skokholm. They help to run the island. Including compost toilet maintenance.
And finally, it’s back to that lovely room in Lockley Cottage. “Stewards”. He made it . A week in paradise to come. Sunshine, showers, storms, sunshine, Wonderful clouds. Starry nights . Dreams do come true.
Reasons to be Cheerful
There is an excellent article in the Times:
The vaccine has brought out the best in us
Watching the elderly, medics and volunteers pulling together to drag us out of the darkness made me proud to be British
Saturday January 16 2021, 12.01am, The Times
It is a morning when weather and news align in soul-crushing gloom. Rain bounces off the Excel centre concrete and daily Covid deaths have breached 1,500. Yet alighting from taxis, pushed in wheelchairs, limping with sticks or marching spryly from the Docklands Light Railway, the elderly arrive. As we watch, I ask Dr Raliat Onatade, a chief pharmacist, how it felt to welcome the first patients to London’s mass vaccination centre. “Emotional, actually,” she says, “because they trust us.”
We are a nation happiest in self-flagellation. Yes, our death rates are shameful, lockdowns came too late and our borders are bafflingly porous. But for a second, silence your negativity, park political recrimination, transcend the shrill social media moment and pause to take pride in something we’ve done right…
Bobby, like many others has found self isolation challenging. Incessant zoom meetings may help but they are not the same.
Yet now there is cause for optimism. We are now not just dreaming about a more normal future, it is beginning to feel tangible. We are feeling the Best of British. Doing what we are good at – getting on with it against the odds. The tables are at last turning in our favour. We would encourage you to read the whole article. If you do not subscribe, then go for the free month.
Read, enjoy and be optimistic, for the vaccine has brought out the best in us.
Lighting a Candle to Diddley and the future
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