Living on an island

Holy IslandOne of my favorite travel ideas is to visit an island. And don’t make it a big island like North America or Australia. In fact the best Islands are small. Indeed they’re beautiful.

The great thing about living on a island – for however long – is that is imposes boundaries, limitations and reduces the choices you have.

Living in Britain (aka GB or UK) has the advantage of being a collection of islands (also aka British Isles) so there’s loads of travel options to islands without even having to have a passport. This year I’ve been to the Isle of Wight (famous for those late 60s early 70s rock festivals that were better than Woodstock) and the Isle of Arran (complete with red squirrels happily existing without invasive greys). What can compare to walking along Tennyson Down or sampling whiskey from a distillery that has exclusive rights to label some of the water of life after Robbie Burns?

Great trips are made even better because of the lack of choice of what to do. There’s only so many tourist traps on these places. This forces you to experience what is there with greater depth and slow down to the pace of island living. Depth means talking to the local fishermen and understanding what this years odd climate has brought (low sea temperatures at Easter meant the crabs weren’t great on Wight) or having a wee chat with the locals at the bar.

Have returned from the second island trip of the year I’m left with a couple of thoughts – aside from wondering when and where the next one will be.

Firstly, how far can you go on the small is beautiful approach to islands? From Arran I could have gone to Holy Island and spent a week in a Buddhist retreat. That would have been a real step back from the tourist must-see-before-I-die checklist mindset and a real slowing down. I have a friend who spent time on Bardsey island off the cost of Wales so as to focus on writing. Visiting a really small island would be a about depth and having time to contemplate the small things around us.

Secondly, can the island mindset be applied to everyday life? At it’s simplest level it would mean saying no the siren call of many distractions in order to slow down and focus on what’s important or even discover what’s most important. Doing this means setting a boundary around the choices we make. This is harder and requires more discipline than going to a physical island.

Whether you’re visiting a real or imagined island be sure to you don’t plan to do too much and remember the one thing you’ll not be able to escape is yourself.

Have you visited an island and what did you do?



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