So, finally, I’m picking up where I left off a few weeks ago in recounting my travels over Easter. Before I start, though, I’m going to try to overcome my qualms about asking for things and, well, ask for something. Is anyone up for a beta read of Resistance, the sequel to Reawakening? I’m looking for plot logic/general impressions/oy, Amy, you did something really stupid there level responses rather than a detailed critique (even after ignoring it for six weeks, I read it yesterday and couldn’t tell if it was any good). It’s about plague and guilt and healing. Tarn and Gard appear briefly, but the main couple in this one are the Dual God of Tiallat and the dragon Halsarr. They have history (oh, so much history). If you’re interested, comment or email (amyraenbow at gmail dot com) or drop me a message on Facebook/Goodreads.
Right, now to the pretties 😉 I stopped last time in Bideford, where I had settled in for an early night with the hope of a clear morning for my ferry trip.
Instead, I woke to thick fog, so thick I couldn’t see the estuary as I stumbled out of my hill top guesthouse at half past six. It was so early that no one was stirring and I went stumbling through the cold quiet streets, not quite awake and worried that I might not make it to the quay on time.
I was booked onto the first Lundy boat of the season, sailing early to suit the tide. I got there with time to spare, and found the MS Oldenburg waiting in the fog.
In the summer, she wends her way out across the Bristol Channel to Lundy and back three times a week. She can carry about 160 passengers; 91 of us were on board that morning.
Before you board, staying passengers pile up their luggage, which is then heaped into nets and hoisted aboard. You next see it when you finally make it into the village in Lundy. I had a nervous moment watching my pack go swaying into the air, but it marked the start of a wonderfully quiet adventure.
It takes a couple of hours to make the crossing, and most of us were half asleep for the first half an hour, even when the mist began to clear. I eventually made my way along the swaying boat to buy some breakfast and eat it up on deck, where the wind was fresh and the island was already in sight. I was rewarded with the sight of a pod of dolphins diving not far off our side, and then we were drawing close to the landing stage at Lundy.
By the time we had all left the boat and started up the side of the island, the mist had come down again. Lundy is a little slice of granite stuck in the middle of the Bristol channel: 3 miles long and half a mile wide. There’s almost nothing at sea level, beyond the landing stage and a few rocky bays. The only motor vehicles on the island belong to the farm, including one jeep which trundles down the sole road, a unmade track down the cliff side, to transport the cargo from the boat. To reach the village, you have to climb up that same track, which zigzags across the cliff. In thick fog, you can be forgiven for wondering if the road will ever end or whether you will be climbing into the sky forever. Here a mere few metres above sea level, the MS Oldenburg was already beginning to vanish into the fog.
The top of the island is flat, mostly grazing and heathland, but there is a small village, a church, a castle and a lighthouse. The village pub is the heart of Lundy, and the source of all information about boat times, weather, accommodation, and anything else you can think of. Its walls are hung with the lifebelts from ships wrecked off Lundy’s shores, and mobile phones are banned (there’s a fine payable for their use). All the buildings on Lundy are either used by the island trust or can be let. I had the Radio Room, a tiny little stone building tucked away in the centre of the village: once home to the island’s radio, now just big enough for one bed-sitting room, and a tiny kitchen and bathroom. It suited me perfectly, so I soon abandoned most of my luggage there and went out to enjoy the island now the fog had finally cleared.
Here’s the village.
The joy of Lundy is that there is nothing much there. The peace and ease of it sinks in slowly, but is the most wonderful relief. I spent most of my three days reading (How to Repair a Mechanical Heart, SPECTR, Rose and Spindle), writing (by hand) and wandering out for short walks through the drizzle, though I was careful to be safely in bed by midnight, when the island’s generator is turned off until morning.
I was too early in the season to see any of the puffins the island is famous for, but I did meet a few of its non-human denizens on my walks.
On my last day, I left my luggage to be collected and walked to the end of the island, which is beautifully wild and lonely, even more so than the rest of Lundy.
I then, rather reluctantly, wandered down to the landing stage and scrambled around the rock pools there for a while before pausing to watch the boat come back in.
There were less than forty human passengers going back, and the sea was so still that light seemed to be pouring across it like syrup. I sat outside for a while, watching the island dwindle behind us, but then went in and wrote most of the climax to Resistance as the light poured in and the calm sheen of the sea stretched out to the misty horizon.
Oddly enough, I didn’t feel sad to leave. By then, I was utterly certain I would go back. I’m sure I will.
(Yes, I said less than forty humans. These guys also had a pretty smooth trip, once they’d recovered from being hoisted on board)
I was staying in Appledore that night, in a little hotel where the room was so freshly decorated the paint hadn’t quite dried. I wasn’t quite ready for the modern world yet, so I curled up quietly and read the evening away (I think this was the night where I threw my hands in the air and gave up on the whole Cut and Run phenomenon, but I also read the first two of Joanna Chambers’ Enlightened trilogy here and wrote and wrote and wrote, so overall it was a good place to read and dream).