We clambered still further up, edging towards the east and around Peninnis. From a little way off, the Scillonian bobbed flat-bottomed, making its way into port. An incontrollable surge of jealousy rose in me as I imagined the next flock of holiday-makers, some enjoying the views from the icy-cold deck while others slept below, cocooned in the ship's belly, shutting their eyes tightly to the feelings of nausea. It's hard to admit, but passing the airport beyond Old Town was an uncomfortable reminder too, so we pushed on towards the north of the island. A collection of flotsam in the water below was being hurled against the cliffs in an area where the rockface seemed to split and water gushed in and out, leaving its assorted debris on an impassable area of sand. Then it would rush in again, both giving and taking as it went.
On reaching Pelistry, we took a steep, high-banked path down to the bay, a little corner of bliss in which to rest awhile. Before long our wet and windy walk was rewarded with bright sunshine. The fickle weather had changed again and (pardoning the pun) buoyed up our mood with its also shifting tides. It brought such warmth with its irresistably beguiling charm that I took off my socks and shoes and plunged my feet into the sand, relieved at once to ground myself with the earth in this way. I lay back and spent five blissful minutes feeling nothing but the sun on my skin. Suddenly we heard a call from one of only two other families on this tiny pocket of beach. A seal had been spotted swimming into the bay. We scrambled for the binoculars and saw it's friendly, comical face watching us curiously from a short distance away. For some time, it bobbed up and down, submerging and re-emerging at random spots. This sighting obviously made our last day something truly special. There was an honest curiousity in the seal appearing like this, a sort of trust that somehow outweighed our battle with the changing forces of nature. More so, when another seal emerged even closer to us, holding something in its mouth like a playful dog. The moment seemed to say that anything was possible and, after all, we would be back soon. We paddled a little, then sat and watched the seals, trying to guess where they would come up. After a time, the skies grew grey again and the rain spattered gently, nudging us on our way.
That evening, as we ate at our favourite restaurant, there was no sunset over Samson. The sun retired coyly behind clouds for the final time that day and the uninhabited island in the West withdrew also into mists, taking the gleam of the water with it into the night. We talked, not so much about what we had done but about the future, and it seemed to me that the loss of one thing was only the beginning of another. There was little time for sentimentality in a world where life continually beckons. It was this too that made me more determined than ever to make it work for me.
The following morning we packed up the last of our belongings. Typically, the weather goaded us by clearing out to bring a splendid sunny day for all those lucky persons staying behind. I tried desperately (and unsuccessfully) not to feel bitter, selfishly imagining that they couldn't possibly know my sadness. We sat quietly on the bench looking out to sea, sucking the warmth into our cheeks. We took some final photographs and talked about all the nice things we had done and how we would be back soon. I dared not say that 'soon' seemed a lifetime away.
People normally shed a tear or two for a friend or loved one when saying goodbye for a while. For me, it was the islands and everything I seemed to be leaving behind. At the back of the plane, I hid watery eyes. My throat stung with the effort. How can one be so inexplicably attached to a place? I don't know. But I do know that I leave a bit of my soul there every time... and I will not be getting it back.