My last full day in Cornwall. Less clement weather as you can see, but all the same, I’d rather have had this than the heavy snow which has hit further north: I’m quite happy to be away from that, thank you very much. A definite ‘sea/beach’ theme has developed, with this being the fifth in a row to feature one or both, but down here, where the island ends, it’s hard to be unaware of the ocean.
Those of you not from Britain might not be immediately aware of the cultural significance of Land’s End, although the very name gives a clue. This is not the southernmost point on the island of Great Britain (that being the Lizard), nor is it the westernmost (Ardnamurchan, in Scotland), but it is the furthest extremity of the long toe that the island sends out into the Atlantic, and the distance of, about, 875 miles in a straight line to John o’Groats in Scotland is the longest distance between any two points on this lump of land off the north-west coast of Europe.
The building you see here, officially known as the “First and Last House”, is a café — with, behind, the Longships lighthouse — and somewhere just to the left is a rather tacky complex of buildings targeted firmly at the very large number of tourists who flock here during the summer months. I consider myself fortunate to have seen it in the off-season. But while at one level it seems very arbitrary to value this point over many others nearby which are far more attractive and interesting (like Porthcurno, yesterday, which is about four miles away [and further south]), there is a sense here that one has come to the end of something, in a quite physical but also a spiritual sense. Which is why people want to come here, I guess. I can’t knock it — I made a point of making it to this spot, and now document it here on the blog. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t mean anything, but in a small and personal way, perhaps it does.
My last full day on St Helena — this time. There will be at least one more, though as yet I don’t know how it’ll be paid for. But considering that this was the view that opened up when I was on my way to my morning meeting — there are reasons to put in the effort it’ll take to return. The basalt column of Lot, behind the house, makes his second appearance on the blog (see this shot from my first visit); and that’s his wife, who never seems to credit a name of her own, over to the right.
Wednesday night is Taco Night at the St Helena Yacht Club, probably the busiest single social gathering I have yet attended on the island, and in full swing behind me as I took this picture. But the outlook is west, across James Bay: the next land in that direction is Brazil.
Spent all day in Jamestown, where it was hot and sunny, certainly the warmest I’ve experienced it here on this trip. Ten years ago today I had just arrived in Brisbane for my four-month-long sojourn in Australia (and other nearby countries), and even if the weather on my arrival there was less-than-optimum for a couple of days, like today, that did remind me how much nicer it is sometimes to not be hanging around in the UK at this time, with all its lack of light and wintry bollocks. Pottering about in the tropical heat of a late January doesn’t have to be done every year but I will certainly take it now and again.
Time to cross the border into the Republic of Ireland, getting out of the UK for the first time since late November. Time to get out of the city and into the country — right into it. More of this over the next few days, I sure hope.
The spectacular scenery of St Helena is enhanced by the fact that the pattern of vegetation one sees in the UK is reversed. It is the coast, the lower levels, that is rocky and barren, and the mountains which are covered in lush vegetation: all down to the fact that the rain falls high up, but not low down. This is taken from the Blue Hill area, looking down to Sandy Bay, past the basalt pillar known as ‘Lot’ (and his wife is somewhere over to the right of this image).
Jamestown is one of the very few places in St Helena where you can actually get down to sea level, and that, plus its place on the leeward side of what can be a rather windy island, is why the town is there. There’s no actual harbour, though. The boats and yachts congregate out to sea, and this evening, caught a few rays.
I have to move into different accommodation for the last few days of my stay and am unlikely to get internet access for the remaining time here; so the next few days probably won’t be uploaded until I get home on December 2nd. See you then.
OK, it’s time to do the main panorama from my place of incarceration. The movie director in my head would still prefer to wait for the lighting to be just so, but to be honest, breaks in the cloud have been rare this last week — indeed, as I type this on Wednesday morning, it’s raining heavily and none of this can be seen at all.
To the left, Ladder Hill, depicted in close up a few days ago. Below it, tucked in its valley, Jamestown, the capital and one of the few places on the island where one can actually land a boat. To the right, Rupert’s Valley, more industrial (i think those are fuel pipelines visible) — between them, Munden’s Hill. All to be more intimately explored at a later date. In the direction shown, the next land is, I calculate, the Ivory Coast, or perhaps Ghana, at least 1,800 miles away.
Nothing happened today at all, except for the news — still unofficial, but it’s looking most promising — that I will be heading off to this rather remote spot at some point in the next few months, for a research project. We got the ‘yeah, OK, we’ll fund that’ email today. And very good news that is too, for all sorts of reasons.