Letter from Lundy - June
STAYING true to form time is passing like the wind over here on Lundy. The spring season is in full swing and we have already seen lots of visitors to the island helped no doubt by the good weather we ve been having. All our visitors are equally importa
STAYING true to form time is passing like the wind over here on Lundy. The spring season is in full swing and we have already seen lots of visitors to the island helped no doubt by the good weather we've been having. All our visitors are equally important of course, but recently some have been more regal than others!
With more than 30 years having passed since the last Royal visit, Lundy was well overdue for another. In 1977 the Queen, Prince Philip and her young sons made a brief stopover as part of the Silver Jubilee Tour. This time the Earl and Countess of Wessex landed on Lundy for a tour of the island and to meet the islanders.
It was a great day. A chance to show how Lundy works and why it's so special. Apart from a small entourage of Royal attendees and bodyguards, you wouldn't have guessed that very much out of the ordinary was happening as it was a relatively low key event.
We only informed our staying visitors on the morning of the visit. However, by the time they arrived a bustling throng had gathered in the Tavern in anticipation of meeting the Royal couple. We realise that Royalty are used to more intense media attention and vast crowds but while visiting the island we wanted to maintain as much of a normal island working day as possible. After all that's our job and is what they were here to see - a day in the life of Lundy.
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There was a lot to get through in the time available and although Lundy runs like a well-oiled machine, it's only thanks to the people who work here that makes it so.
The schedule was regimented to the minute, however within half an hour of landing we were already running over time. What we had forgotten to mention was that Lundy seems to run on its own time which is generally at a more relaxed pace!
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First came the introduction to all the staff in the Tavern followed by a short talk about Lundy in general, the history, wildlife & unique private postal system, followed by a lunch of the islands own produce - Lundy game stew. Next came the tour of the village including the shop, workshop and recycling centre of which the Countess in particular was very interested to impart her knowledge and experience of wormeries. Something which Chris our ranger might now look into as an alternative way of dealing with island waste. The highlight of the day for me however was the warden's walk, escorting the Earl and Countess on a short walk of the island to show them some of Lundy's natural features and wildlife. Taking in the east coast first we then crossed over to the west to highlight the striking differences between the two coasts and also try to find some of Lundy's infamous visitors - Puffins. A tall order even on a regular warden's walk, but today the normally elusive puffins were out on show - what a relief!
They proved to be a real hit with the Royal couple and we all got a great view of these rare (to Lundy) clown-like birds in their natural habitat.
With the visit drawing to a close a quick stop at the Old Light, Lundy's oldest disused lighthouse which affords stunning views of the island and mainland on clear days. Then a stop at the church to sign our visitors' book before heading back to the Tavern for tea and cake.
Their last job of the day was to unveil a plaque to commemorate the visit and for us to thank them for visiting our island home. It was a fitting end to a busy but enjoyable day, the Earl and Countess made it very easy to carry on as normal and put everyone at ease with their friendly, easy-going manner.
Sophie Wheatley, Assistant Lundy Warden