Christopher Stocks

Island Life

Love and death

Caring for someone you love who is dying is, oddly, a bit like being in love. There’s the same desire to spend as much time as possible together, but more than that, it gives you the same strange moments of heightened reality, when just looking up in the sky and seeing white clouds or a bird flying overhead can bring you to the edge of tears.

It’s funny that death isn’t more integrated into our lives today, since it’s just as integral to life as, say, giving birth – except of course one is intensely sad and the other, on the whole, is something to celebrate. Yet we celebrate death, too, in a way, by remembering the life of the person we’ve lost.

Radio silence

Apologies to anyone who’s been checking my website over the last few weeks for the lack of posts: my father was rushed to hospital in the New Year and has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease, so life’s been turned upside down for all the family while we try and look after him as best we can. ‘Normal’ service will be resumed as soon as possible, but in the meantime I hope you’ll bear with me – sorry.

In passing

Driving across the causeway to the island this morning I nearly swerved off the road when a kingfisher suddenly shot past and flew alongside me, its short sharp beak and the rapid flapping of its wings instantly distinctive, more so even than its brilliant colouring in the dark, misty drizzle that’s descended on us today. It seems odd to see kingfishers right by the sea, but we’ve seen them flying along the edge of Portland harbour now for three winters in a row.

Shelly Christmas

Shells 3

When the wind blows

P1000203Living three miles out to sea has its advantages (more sunshine than average, later sunsets, cleaner air…) but when we get a south-westerly gale like the one that’s been raging for the last couple of days we really get it in the neck. Everything booms and rattles all day and all night, the salt spray burns our precious plants, and my study windows get so thickly coated with oily spray that I can hardly see outside. Even a walk to the end of the street leaves you breathless, completely dishevelled and slightly sticky with salt.

On days like these I’m thankful for our foot-thick Portland-stone walls, which must have witnessed many gales far worse than this, such as the Great Gale of November 1824 (more colourfully known as The Outrage) which breached Chesil Beach, drowned 25 islanders, swept away the old ferry across the Fleet and even, a mile or two inland, blew a farmer’s turnips clean out of the ground.