Christopher Stocks

Island Life

This septic isle

The island has been losing its hold on me. After eight years here, the rubbish, the dog shit, the plastic windows, the shoddy building, the wheelie bins, the general greyness and bleakness have started getting me down. I still love our house, which as a friend said last night must be one of the cutest on the island, maybe one of the sweetest in Dorset, even if you can just about touch the walls on either side. But if we could pick it up and move it somewhere else – near Bulbarrow, say, or Littlebredy – then I’d move tomorrow.

Yet the walk along the cliffs from here to the Bill, which we do most weekends, reminds me of all that’s astonishing about what another friend used to call This Septic Isle. The cliffs themselves are extraordinary, with the fifty-mile views out over Lyme Bay to the west and the rest of Dorset to the east; on a really clear day we can see Dartmoor in one direction and the Isle of Wight in the other.

Seeing St George’s church rising above the chaos of the Portland-stone quarries always startles me, and there are other, smaller things to treasure too: the fulmars nesting on the ledges beneath Blacknor Point, gurgling to each other all summer and taking short, circular flights out from their nests; the beautifully finished base of a Second World War searchlight position, whose perfectly arced curve throws back an uncanny echo in the open air. Even more magical, for me, are the miraculously preserved ripples in an area of fossilised beach, now two hundred feet above the waves whose ripples they echo, only from millions of years ago. Talk about echoes from the past…

Comments are closed.