I would certainly make no claims to be a wise man and this gift would probably not be considered suitable for a king, but on this eve of Epiphany I bring the next instalment of the Lundiary!
For those of you returning to work after two weeks away, indulging in the modern rituals of midwinter, this could provide a much needed, alternative topic of conversation…
In which our hero travels to the utmost north, the island’s peace is rent by un coup de vent and a crime is committed…
I was first to leave my room and head downstairs in hope of breaking my nightly fast. Having fortified myself with a cup of loose-leaf Assam tea, I thought I should unload the dishwasher to make myself useful to the group – and avoid an early eviction. This did not go to plan as it quickly became clear that the dishwasher had made no attempt to live up to its name. A little investigation showed that the machine had been run using a 6 hour delay, which had taken it into the period during which the island has no power. A little button stabbing and I was able to turn off the delay and the gurgling music of robotic washing-up began.
H was next down and revealed an unexpected vein of asceticism with her preferred breakfast of dry bread: though she did eventually move towards hedonism with the addition of a fried egg. We were then joined by A and his complex experiments with a cafetiere and the island’s 3-bean-strong coffee. This appeared to be 3 beans out of a possible 5 on what I presumed to be a linear scale: though I suppose it could have been logarithmic (or even exponential). As a non-coffee drinker, I found I was unprepared for the degree of ceremony and complexity of process needed to deliver an acceptable cup: I wouldn’t have been surprised had a pipette been produced and some titration performed. I think the final formula was to use 5/3 of the normal amount of coffee: which seemed a simpler solution than the rather time-consuming methodology had suggested.
Eventually, everybody appeared – indicating no deaths or unexplained disappearances during the night – and breakfasted in their own way before we headed off in our various directions to explore the island.
Having already been south on Lunday, I determined to explore the far north, via the east coast where possible, to attempt to see some of the fauna advertised in the previous evening’s talk. After leaving downtown Lundy, I first passed the ruins of the island’s hospital which was now being used by the local wild ponies as a place to graze. I couldn’t help wondering if I had been granted a vision of the future of health care on the mainland…
I didn’t see a fellow human being for a good 90 minutes – and then only at a distance – which was a joy, if unexpected on such a small island. Instead, I saw some stunning scenery and most of the larger fauna of the island, all of which – with the exception of the Lundy ponies – were equipped with horns. I must admit to being slightly disappointed that in their commitment to horned beasts, the island’s previous owners had somehow missed out on the unicorn: which, legend has it, would have been drawn to me (and my ilk).
I was also treated to some stunning coastal views and made several attempts to stare at the island’s beaches through my rather inferior binoculars – I think they may actually make it harder to see things in the distance – in the hopes of seeing an amusingly named seal: I seem to recall one was named for a bite-mark on its buttocks (I assume as a mammal, a seal would have at least vestigial buttocks). I became good at convincing myself that various vaguely seal-shaped rocks were alive, but I don’t think I can honestly say that a saw an actual seal.
As I was alone, I was fully able to indulge my inner child: heading out onto every granite outcrop, running joyfully over the more even ground and leaping from rock to rock like a somewhat arthritic mountain goat. Had there been drifts of autumn leaves, I would have kicked my way through them: sadly there are few trees and both they and the island struggle to retain their leaves given its propensity to strong wind.
Eventually, I reached the far north and it’s associated lighthouse and, as I did so, the sun burst through the cloud cover. I spent many happy minutes sat on a seat (or flatish slab) of granite (which had retained less of the heat of its formation than I might have hoped) watching the waves crash against the island and several of its smaller rocky neighbours. It was very easy to imagine a ship being wrecked against its shores: as I fully intended to get wrecked in the Marisco Tavern later that evening.
Shortly after leaving the lighthouse, I bumped into A+H who had headed north via the west coast. I joined them to return to the northern light and we then started the walk back towards the pub and some hope of a late lunch. Our yomp back did involve a few diversions to look at sights of interest, including Tibbetts: a house which once acted as a look-out for the Admiralty and which visitors can stay in (though I’d warn you it possesses neither running water nor electrons and is a goodly hike from the pub). As we stood in the early afternoon sun, admiring the view to the east, it was noted that the air was totally still and that the island was eerily silent. With impeccable comic timing, A’s digestive tract chose that precise moment to let forth a great burst of flatus (via the lower of the two potential output ports) irrevocably rupturing the peace: first with its own trumpet blast and, shortly thereafter, with laughter and recriminations. I feel this is likely to become the defining incident of the expedition and I fully expect the promontory between Gull Rock and Halfway Bay to be renamed in honour of this coup de vent.
When the laughter finally died down, we continued back towards the pub – pausing to say hello to the huge pigs, who I assume are unaware that the island shop sells ‘Lundy bacon’ – and a much needed lunch. At the pub, I was tempted to introduce us as ‘travellers from the north country’ but I’m afraid the expression on the barman’s face rather put me off such frivolity,
Foodwise, I went for the soup and cheesy chips, on the basis that little could go wrong with the preparation of either item. A chose the ‘Lundy pizza’: in theory this was like a normal pizza but one that was transitioning towards a new life as a calzone, giving it a shape slightly similar to that of the island. In practice, this item would not have been out of place in the armoury of any Discworld Dwarf, easily matching the Battle Bread of B’hrian Bloodaxe in its potential use in a combat situation. Dropped from a new centimetres onto its plate it sounded like a hunk of granite – which I assume was one of its key ingredients – and threatened to break the plate. Manfully (or driven by hunger), A managed to consume a surprising portion of this very hardtack: amazingly without any obvious loss of dentition.
It was during lunch that H commented on my NHS glasses: these were Rayban specs which I had previously considered to be rather cool. H attempted to convince me that NHS glasses were now viewed as peng by the young folk, but I fear the damage has been done and I will never be able to look at them in the same way again (though will continue to look through them).
We then headed back home to rest and recoup after our exertions. A and I attempted to create man’s red flower using the rather limited remaining kindling and the coal briquettes which had been acquired from the shop on Lunday. Whilst the kindling would burn, it somehow managed to so without creating any heat; unhelpful both for the fire’s human audience or any real hope of encouraging the briquettes to start burning. We did consider sacrificing some of the less critical furniture to the project but (possibly) wiser counsels prevailed. We were also hindered in our twisted fire-starting by the rather porous nature of the bag of the bellows provided: their provision of air was decidedly asthmatic. A eventually got some sort of meagre heat from the stove but its range was limited to a few inches.
In the evening, we all went up to the Marisco Tavern for dinner: a much more successful meal than lunch and none of the food could easily double as a throwing weapon. It also gave us a chance to use the library (which lay around us as we ate) to do some further research into the island and its history. I must admit to feeling that they were a little short on decent geology texts.
The rest of the party, being actual musicians, had brought their instruments to the bar and played a session in the main bar (this had been previously agreed, it wasn’t a very small scale flashmob). The music was great fun and seem to go down well with our fellow islanders: indeed, the band was invited back the following evening. A band should always have a name, and a A, H and I came up with a number of options: I think Heinkels Go Down was my favourite (perhaps as it reminds me of directoire knickers which I believe were known as Messerschmitts during the last war as they “came down without a fight”). I can only ponder what 40s undergarment was referred to as a Heinkel). Another contender, was Loose Ladies of Lundy though I fear my surrender to the alcoholic temptations of the tavern has rather blurred my memory of the reasons why…
The fireplace in the Marisco Tavern was merrily blazing, albeit exhausting rather more of its smoke into the pub rather than into the night air. By its side, was a huge basket of kindling and another of hardwood logs and the like. These proved an irresistible temptation with A using the diversion created by the music to liberate a couple of chunks of likely looking wood and concealing them in my rucksack. So, in many ways, I acted as the getaway driver for this daring raid: or act of xylarceny as I am calling it.
The young folk (A, H and I: the last only fitting the description if it is considered in geological terms) left before the music had finished to avoid ending up entirely kippered. We also had a yen to look upon (and consume) some ale that was a little less brown: we had some bottles of Lundy Single Hop Pale Ale from Madrigal Brewery awaiting us in Millcombe House. We also made an attempt to break-up the first of our recently acquired wood into a more usable form to get the fire going. The wood was cloven into smaller chunks using the sub-optimal equipment available in the kitchen (I once again regretted leaving my axe at home) but the results in the stove were disappointing. As we lounged in the sitting room, in front of the merest hint of fire, A + H saw a pygmy shrew scamper across the room and then disappear: perhaps into a network of secret tunnels which are riddled throughout the house?
Tiredness made it desirable to head for our respective beds and I found myself without the energy to change room, so I once again slept in Christie: awaiting the inevitable murder….
As the days of the week return to their normal order, the adventures of the selected seven will continue next Sunday…