It rained heavily last night, and clouds still loomed beyond St Michaels Mount as I made my way along the harbour edge to the Quay where the Scillonian III waited this morning, the sky slowly lightening and town of Penzance awakening. Gulls, in their unglamorous brown-mottled juvenile plumage, pottered around the mostly empty car park. By 8.30 I was on board, the boat rocking gently each time the small crane lifted on another container of luggage.
The crossing was, thankfully, a smooth one. Around the boat the ocean seethed at our passing, edged white, deep black blue, the colour of freshly knapped flint. Two small brown birds, meadow birds, land birds, strangers to the sea, dared not stop flapping as they flew overhead, in contrast to the torpedo shaped gannets with their yellow-shaded heads and black wingtips that look as though they have been dipped in the dark ink-pot of the sea. Cornwall sank to a hazy distance, more cloud bank than land as we drew ever closer to the fortunate isles. First sight was a shadow in farthest distance, a smudge as-though someone's ruler slipped as they drew the straight line of the horizon. Slowly the islands emerged from the haze, all white beaches and sparkling sea and rocky outcrops topped with bracken and pine trees. The two hills of Sampson, the wooded slopes of Tresco, and the welcoming harbour of St Mary's.
Home for the next few weeks. Settling in. A sunset walk. Not sure it will sink in 'till I wake in the morning: welcome to Scilly, welcome to Paradise on Earth.