I’m channelling my inner Judith Chalmers to tell you about my summer’s little holiday jaunts, except with infinitely less charm and infinitely more rum.
I went to the Isles of Scilly twice this year, therefore I am an expert on the place, in as much as I am an expert about anything. In other words, not at all. But still, here you are, so let’s just get on with it.
My Top [arbitrary number of] Pieces Of Information About Scilly!
1. Where the fuck are you talking about?
The Isles of Scilly are a small collection of islands off Land’s End – that’s the pointy bit at the bottom of England. Don’t front like you knew.
Scilly is not to be confused with Sicily, that’s somewhere else. Scilly is also not to be confused with islands up near Scotland somewhere. Or those other islands where people regularly squabble over who owns them, or whatever.
2. Getting there is interesting
There’s no two ways about it, it can be a ballache getting to Scilly from the mainland. There is one ferry to and from Penzance each day. It only goes to the biggest island, and only for half the year.
You can also fly several times a day from Land’s End, Newquay and Exeter. I should warn you that the aeroplanes are so small, a decent fart would blow them off course. And fart you probably will, because flying in the tiny Cola-can aeroplanes is not something for the faint of heart. Or arse.
In fact, the plane is so teeny, you could lean forward and flick the pilot’s ear. Sadly he had headphones on, the party pooper:
Having said all that, neck a few beers and make yourself get the plane if you can, because it’s actually quite fun. Plus the view will blow your knickers off:
On our second visit, rather than driving the first leg of the journey and leaving the car in Penzance, we opted to take the glamourously-named Night Riviera – a sleeper train. I particularly wanted to dress up as Poirot for the occasion, but couldn’t face waking up with a Sharpie-moustache and a hangover the next day.
Be careful booking tickets, it’s really easy to only reserve a seat when you actually wanted a bed. Here we are, looking smug that we’d managed to book the right thing:
The Night Riviera journey starts in Paddington late at night and gets you to Penzance the next morning with a slight headache and a croissant, ready to get the ferry over to the islands. Or, in our case, it didn’t. The train broke down in the middle of nowhere – Bodmin, for fuck’s sake. The train company are well-versed with such shenanigans and sorted taxis and flights, so it was actually all fine. I generously began drinking at 11am, just to help things along.
3. Don’t be a dick
The Isles of Scilly are SMALL. Very small. Five of the islands have people living on them and the biggest one, St Mary’s, has a population of 1,700. As a result, you’d best not be rude to anyone, because you bump into the same people repeatedly. (I was only rude to one person in Co-Op, but he totally deserved it. We didn’t see him again.)
4. Sea, sand and Instagram like your life depends on it
There are many beaches, many boats and when the sun shines, everything looks like a holiday brochure. With the islands being so miniature, there are small and perfectly formed beaches all over the place. In other words, lots of opportunities to have a beach ALL to yourself – living the dream, for real.
I’m usually horrendously lazy, but even I could force my fat arse outdoors for a daily romp around islands in the blazing sun. I took about 500 photos mainly which look like these, because HOW COULD I NOT?
5. Feel young and sexy
Scilly during the holiday season is like a great big summer camp for the middle-aged and olds. Admittedly, we missed the school holidays by gracing the islands with our presence in July and September, but the point still stands – if you want to feel young, sexy and taut, visit Scilly.
Just try not to be too embarrassed when the oldies overtake your sweaty and hungover form on steep coastal walks, because they inevitably will.
6. There is a lot of nature
The nature on the islands is nothing short of amazing, even if you don’t usually give a shit about that kind of thing. We saw butterflies, seals, dolphins, beetles, moths, jellyfish, eels, and most importantly, BEES HAVING SEX:
Due to Scilly being a microclimate (that’s science, look it up) interesting plants grow everywhere, from tiny crevices in chimneys and out of vertical walls. They are mean chunky bastard plants and I love them:
A quick mention for the night sky. Obviously there’s very little light pollution, so the stars are stunning, enough to leave you sounding like a complete stoner:
“Woooahhh look so many staaaars… blows my miiiind. Doesn’t it make you feel so tiny and insignificant? Wait, am I insignificant? Hahahaha, naaah, I’m brill.”
I haven’t got any photos of the stars on account of it being really dark and generally being a few rums down by nightfall.
7. There are lots of dogs and boats
If you hate dogs, don’t bother going to Scilly, they’re everywhere. This man was trying to feed the dog a boiled sweet, I could only assume that he hates dogs:
It probably goes without saying, but if you hate boats, then really don’t bother going to Scilly. You’ll get boats most days. Sit in the middle if you value your hairstyle.
8. You find weird things
Who put those rocks there?
This is bleak:
A serious boner for crayons:
Just kidding, it’s obviously a daymark. In case you didn’t know, a daymark is a thing they put at one end of a small island so you walk all the way out just to gawp at it, and the locals laugh at you stupid tourists.
9. PUBS PUBS PUBS PUBS PUBS PUBS PUBS PUBS PUBS PUBS PUBS and food
Despite the size of the inhabited islands, they all have a decent pub or bar, with food generally being very good too. There are lots of Cornish beers and ciders, with local seafood, meat, dairy, vegetables, ice cream and paaaasties. Sadly, we didn’t get to eat this pub garden invader, but the dog pictured above had a really good go on our behalf.
We forgave the chips being presented in a cup.
10. Coming home is hard
This is where I get all whimsical and heartfelt. I loved the Isles of Scilly and the charm of island life won’t leave my head. We booked our second visit when we’d only been home for a few days from our first. Thinking practically, I couldn’t really live there as it’s quite isolated, too far from my family, the winter months sound rough and the internet connection is probably crap. However, it’s still very tempting to say FUCK LONDON, I AM GOING TO THE LAND OF BOATS AND PASTIES.