Wednesday, 24 August 2011

From the four corners of the compass...




...it's nice here.


I can’t pretend that I’ve just whisked off my sou’wester and dashed in from the boat to write this. It’s been a little while since we got back from our trip to the Outer Hebrides.


This year has been all about the four corners for me, even if I haven’t quite got right in there to the absolute extremities. Mind you, I’ve been close. The furthest north we got on our trip to Lewis was Eoropie Beach near Port Nis. That’s very far north. It's also very beauftiful, with good surf and lovely views. That's it in the picture. Eoropie is only 0.1 degrees further south than John O’Groats, which is generally considered to be the furthest point north in our country (even though it actually isn’t).
The trip was incredible. We covered over 2000 miles in a little over 2 weeks and saw some marvellous stuff. Unfortunately Maggie broke her arm on the beach at Eoropie the day we arrived so she wasn’t able to make the most of the clean sea and gorgeous sands, or even ride her new bike. She was excited to have a plaster cast but gutted when she realised what it meant for her holiday.

I can recommend Lewis to all but those who insist on sun for their summer hols. You won’t find nicer beaches anywhere and the people were lovely that we met. In fact, Scotland was, as usual, wonderful. We bought tweed hats on Harris, got bitten by midges in Loch Lomond, picked myrtles in the Great Glen and picnicked on the banks of Loch Ness (nothing stirring). On the way we rode the UK’s oldest roller coaster and cooked a whole bunch of recipes from my new book, The Camper Van Coast, including camper van pizza. Yes, it is possible.
In May I went to another of the extremes with a rain-free visit to Ireland. We surfed the most north westerly break in Europe at Bloody Foreland Point. Camping out, with nothing but ocean before you – next stop America – gives me that wild feeling I love. There’s comfort from the camper, but wildness all around. I cooked a rum cocktail made with seaweed on the beach that’s usually more Caribbean than Irish, but it worked.
As for the eastern point. I went to Great Yarmouth. It's not quite the most easterly, that accolade goes to Lowestoft, but not far off. Mind you, I did go on the pier, so I must have been nearly there. There, in this most sea-sidey of seaside towns I found out how they make seaside rock and met a man with not all his fingers who has been known to make spelling mistakes. On the same trip I saw Maggie Hambling’s sculpture at Aldeburgh and was speechless.
The southern point, like Great Yarmouth, wasn't quite the most southerly, but pretty much. That was the Isle of Wight, where I stopped to take a picture of one of the UK’s most beautiful coastal drives and nearly lost my car in the process. I had to dive through the window as it began to roll towards the sea. Thank goodness I wasn’t in the van that trip. There, on the island, I visited a curious museum that’s devoted to the work of the most famous saucy seaside postcard designer that ever dipped his little nib, Donald McGill. Did you know he was prosecuted for obscenity?
For the last point of the compass I count home, the west country. Even though we’re right in it, it’s still a couple of hours to Land’s End. We didn’t quite get there but, as usual, close: the beach at Sennen. It is one of the Uk’s finest and the drive from St Ives along the coast, spectacular. Mind you, St Ives isn’t bad. A little crowded in summer, yes, but glorious too. I spent a summer there in 1991. It was good to be back.
And it’s good to be home after our trip to Lewis. Maggie's out of plaster and the dog's pleased to see us. There's also a little bit of summer left until our most favourite month of the year comes rolling in. Where shall we go?

1 comment:

  1. WoW! That was a bit of a jolly large round trip if I may say so! I cringed at the broken arm story! Poor Maggie! I've not broken any bones (so far) in my 58 years. Still, plenty of time left to get one in, I just restarted windsurfing after a 15 year gap. Wish me luck.
    Good luck with your future surfing of roads, water and gravy.

    Pete.

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