I returned to Brownsea in February with many lovely people. Thomas works with Tools For Self Reliance, mending tools. Annie had a sewing machine in need of repair. It was a beautiful moment. ‘Twas foreordained.
Tag Archives: brownsea island
In March my fellow Djembabes & I headed off to Brownsea Island to give a drumming performance to the islanders. It went pretty well; we got people to join in and it turns out I can drum with two pairs of gloves on. We stayed in the villa — a name I sort-of-object to because the place doesn’t look remotely Roman. Saturday was fruz but Sunday was sunny & beautiful. I wandered around most of the island and managed to do some beachcombing. AND WE ARE ALLOWED TO GO BACK.
Brownsea Island, for people like me who never heard of it before, is a little island on which there is a nature reserve, a church, a villa, Brownsea Castle (which is used as a hotel & is not open to the public, not even to inordinately talented drummers), an open air theatre, and the remains of a village & of a vinery. It’s known for its red squirrels — because there aren’t any grey squirrels to out-squirrel them — and “experimental scout groups”, a phrase that we all found most amusing. (We speculated about the possibility of finding their bleached bones.)
“It’s going to be freezing tonight,” we were told prior to our 5pm performance. “Better put your underwear on.”
We were a bit confused. Maybe it’s traditional on the island not to wear underwear or maybe she thought we were all such hippies (or worse still, feminists) that we only packed underwear for emergencies.
There was a rather embarrassing moment when we realised we had left the supper ingredients on the mainland (along with several types of tea), but Annie was thrillingly heroic & went back for them. The red squirrels were lovely; one of them kept running up the kitchen window. Many, many birds, and the chickens roosted in the trees at night. Most of the visitors I met were bird watchers. (I’m not a bird watcher; I’m a bird observer. They’re sweet & pretty & interesting to watch & I like to talk to them in passing.) We had a dinner party of thirteen, so Jill gave herself a facepainty beard to look like Jesus. We cooked a very large stew thing, talked incessantly, and generally ate, drank & made merry.
Brownsea was bought by Mary Bonham-Christie in 1927, who banishèd the residents to the mainland. (She died in 1961 at the age of 98.) Chris called her a “mad old bat” and Jani said that property ownership is a silly idea and I agree with both of them but I can kind of see Bonham-Christie’s point. If Brownsea were mine & if I weren’t such a lovely person, I’d be kicking the residents out as well. But it’s not and I am and the islanders are safe. Maryland Village, incidentally, was destroyed in the war when the island was used as a decoy to lead Luftwaffe bombers away from the port at Poole.
This is Harry The Rabbit, who lives in the lap of luxury with an entire courtyard all to herself and who likes to watch television. She quite likes Doctor Who but Dad’s Army is her favourite. She came to see if I had food (or, it seemed, if I was food) and I disappointed her by taking this picture.