25th May 2016
24th May 2016
Return to Penzance today.
Sunny but windy and cold. Packed, all very organised as the bags always are at the beginning of trips. Visited the beautiful health centre to acquire a stock of Sturgeron for the boat journey, the waiting room has a picture window with an amazing view. The staff were enthusiastic about our project and have put leaflets up for us
Then to the Scillies museum where we read about all the things we have seen. An old fashioned, cluttered museum, stuffed with things: Mesolithic axe heads, neolithic arrows and brooches and pottery, civil war soldiers pipes, relics from wrecks and then historyies of the schools, football clubs boats and people. We learnt that the islands were much bigger in Neolithic times with many of the islands joined together to form a single bigger landmass. Then rising sealevels divided them and the current coastline dates from medieval times. We also learnt that they were held by Royalists in the civil war long after Cromwell’s troops had won on the mainland and that all the Civil war fortifications we have seen were due to Cromwell taking the islands , fearing the French would use them as a base to invade.
We learnt that there 700 recorded wrecks but in reality many more and they contributed greatly to the islands economy as ships needed pilots and then often rescue and salvage, and then inevitably the islanders profited from goods coming ashore as well as a spot of smuggling. The islanders were hostile to Her Majesty’s Customs establishing an office there and the Customs ruled that the local boats, or gigs, would be restricted to 6 oars to prevent them being able to go faster than the Customs boats.
All fascinating stuff
After that we bought food, posted postcards and wandered down ot the pier.
On the way over, we had been horrified to find that the bikes had been unsecured in a container and had been crashing and sliding around all journey so this time we made a fuss about seeing them well secured. The sea is much calmer and I am sitting writing this in the sun on the back deck in relative comfort.