A holiday tragedy can happen even in a paradise like this

Below is a brief video clip I did of Great Bay beach, St Martins, Isles of Scilly at noon on August 26th. As I commented on a post at the time, this is considered one of the top ten beaches in the world. Note the small ripple against the shore. Yesterday the weather was similar – the sea was like a mill pond. And yet, tragically, a woman drowned here. I’d like to express my sincere condolences to the lady’s family and friends. I will not pontificate on such a recent tragedy, except to say that such a searingly sad event can happen in the most tranquil, idyllic settings.

The end of Britain


Today we visited the end of Britain. The South-western end, that is. We went to St Agnes, Scilly. Technically that isn’t the last bit of dry land before America. That’s Bishop’s Rock with its famous lighthouse, which I circumnavigated by boat some twenty years ago. There’s also Western rocks. But St Agnes is the last inhabited land.

I took this lovely photo (above) of the huge boulders at the tip of St Agnes, called Horse Point, with the Western Rocks and Bishop’s Rock in the background. It was quite thought-provoking to stand there and think “This is it”.

We also visited the most south westerly pub, the excellent Turk’s Head. On a large rock just off St Agnes there is a skull and crossbones flag flying. At the Turk’s Head, we were served by a young fellow who looks like a pirate. I kid you not. It transpired that he was the person who had swum out to put the pirate flag up on the rock.

It all seemed consistent with being at the extreme end of the country. But before we got too carried away with this feeling of rebellion, HM Customs arrived on the scene in their grey ship to remind us who’s in charge.

The Sir Cloudsley Shovell Summer Tour

This is rapidly becoming “The Sir Cloudsley Shovell Summer tour”. On August 5th we visited Greenwich Observatory and learned about the said Admiral of the Fleet who presided over one of our greatest national maritime disasters, when much of the navy was foundered on the Western Rocks of Scilly in 1707.
Now we are at the superb New Inn on Tresco, a few hundred yards from the site of the disaster. We learn that Sir Cloudsley came to grief because he ignored the pleadings of a single Scillonian sailor who told him his fleet was just south of Scilly, in the face of advice from his officers who told him he was well off Scilly. The Scillonian was right. The subsequent disaster led to the establishment of the Greenwich Meridian Line, to sort out the “Longtitude problem”, which, it is thought, was Sir Cloudsley’s Nemesis. Sir Cloudsley ended up pickled in brandy (a final state many of us would envy) and buried in Westminster Abbey.