- You shouldn't go uninvited to the Sherkin Marine Station.
- You should bring raingear.
- It's surprisingly warm in the sea.
- Lunch at the hotel might be uninspired and expensive (view from terrace compensates).
- The ferry trip is worth the fare even if you didn't step off onto the island.
- Take the minibus from the dock - all the latest gossip.
If that casts a rather negative light on the circumscribed world of island living, there are advantages. While we were there, The House suffered a culinary embarrassment: they had promised some unexpected but welcome guests a particular dish that required coconut milk and then found that they were fresh out of it. They phoned the Gala store in Baltimore to ask if they might have any in stock . . . expecting the answer No. But there is a demand for such exotica among the yachties who come for the regatta season and the shop agreed to send over two tins on the next ferry. Someone on the ferry was happy to deliver to the Sherkin shore two suitably addressed tins wrapped up neatly in brown paper. I like that immensely, it shows a sense of community. It's probably against the rules and lost someone some money but rules are there to serve the people rather than vice versa.
One of our fellow guests was an antique dealer from Oz. I've never met one of them before and could even have got snitty about whether anything in Australia would classify as an antique seeing as the country wasn't settled by Europeans until the day before yesterday. We think of Europe as stuffed with history, antiques and culture as a cake is full of currants. But I would be wrong and there is a distinctively Australian style of mid to late 19thC furniture. The distinction is mainly in the use of Australian Red Cedar Toona ciliata rather than mahogany but there are more subtle differences visible the discerning and well-trained eye. The dealer was saying that his trade was not as brisk as it had been in the past and it's only partly because all the antique escritoires and chiffoniers have reached their final destination. Another significant issue is the Australians are now wider than their forebears. Nobody can believe that a nice side chair with finger-thick legs is going to support their enormous bottom and no couple sleeps in a bed 140cm wide any more, so there is much less demand for old, hand-made furniture. That's kind of interesting - I'd never have found that out in The Institute; it pays to travel.
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