Mainly off the plane

Some writers keep their old journals because they’re certain, somewhere in the pile, there’s gold in them thar thoughts. Others are just lazy (my hand is up at this point) and some – you know who you are – will admit to being hoarders. So I’m starting my spring-cleaning early this year and here’s what surfaced.


What is adventure, but the unexpected? We’re at Land’s End aerodrome and fog bound. The planes sit idle and sullen, somewhere in the gloom. Anne sits with a coffee, nursing it like a grudge. The aerodrome has modern chairs and an easy-clean carpet, but there is the faint whiff of an aerodrome from long ago. Of parcels and papers being delivered in the dead of night, of solitary pilots stranded together with only coffee and stories to keep them alert until the fog lifts. I will never know their world, nor will I feel their passion or their camaraderie, as they wait for permission to fly. But, as I gaze at the shrouded horizon, somehow it doesn’t so bad at all. No bullets, no bravado; just a little more patience.

Note seen in the toilet: ‘Please do not put anything in the loo except toilet paper.’

I wanted to write beneath it: ‘I’ve crapped in the sink.’


So, the flight was fogbound and out-ofbounds. Skybus put us on a bus and trucked us down to the helicopter terminal. Two of the party (last in, first stuffed) could not be guaranteed a place. Anne found, to her disdain, that some crisps contain egg – but only after she’d eaten half of them. Her quote of the day: “What fucking idiot thought that one up?”

We watched a safety DVD (high tech!) about what to do on a helicopter in an emergency, unable to hear anything because of the noise of a helicopter landing. Finally on board, windswept and choked by fumes, we watched the cabin and wiring shudder as the pilot exeuted a flawlessly smooth take-off, banking hard left to impress a row of (presumably deaf) rabbits who ahd lined up on the edge of the field to watch. 20 minutes later, we landed at St Mary’s. Adventure over? Hello, no. The boat came to collect us, took our £22 and sped us over to St Agnes, cutting across every bow wave possible. My quip about us paying now in case we fell overboard went down like a lead lifejacket.

A stomach yoga session later, we arrived at the quay on St Agnes. Our kindly host arrived with tractor and we rode on the back scoop, Ben Hur style, holding on for dear life and watching the back plate rattle without its holding pin on one side. Along the way, we trimmed a couple of hedges – with the side of the tractor, and tested a few potholes – with our spines. All in all, an adventure to be proud of – and it’s only day one.

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