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The Sound of Storensay: How to Write World Class Marketing Plans with no Previous Experience


Recent expeditionsbook_cover.jpg

Links to some of our recent exhibitions have been detailed below. None of which could have been possible without

the support of Minuteman Press in Bristol, to whom we are ever grateful.

Caldey Island, GB | Madeira Island, P | Isle of Man, GBM | Ko Samet, T | Isle of Arran, GB | Lundy Island,

GB | Flat Holm, GB | Looe Island, GB | Steep Holm, GB | full list



Caldey Island: On a sunny July day we boarded a small motor boat from Tenby harbour beach for the 20 minute journey that would bring us to Caldey, a small island located to the south of Tenby in Wales.


The island appeared almost abandoned as we neared the quay and its features came into focus; the quay had certain similarities to that of Steep Holm. The empty Priory Beach embraced us, such a welcome contrast from Tenby's.

We walked through a wooded path and into the tea garden, where a host of commercial enterprises greeted us.


Caldey is owned by Cistercian monks, who currently number just 16. The island features an old priory, two medieval churches, a monastery, village green, post office with museum and much more.

Having spent a little time purchasing provisions and learning of island life and its rich history we trekked on to the lighthouse. Carrying our now ten month old daughter on our backs limits the amount of terrain that can be covered in a day, but on Caldey the walking is gentle and the paths well established.


A walk to the now unmanned 1829 Caldey lighthouse is highly recommended with views of Lundy and North Devon; the seals basking on the rocks below, calling to one another; a beautiful location and very peaceful, save for the regular hum of tourist 'safari boats' circling the island. Lucie complained about the effect of these tours on the ambience and more importantly the natural environment, but we noted that the boats were careful to maintain the required distance from the cliffs. Ironic as it was she who had proposed that this attraction be a feature on Storensay!


The island has numerous religious and commercial buildings to explore and is a very special place. If you do visit Caldey, create the opportunity to talk with the monks, they are wonderful people and so friendly.


Sustaining a financially independent life has been a challenge for the monks and for this reason it was decided that the island be opened for trade six days each week. The brothers balance a life of prayer and contemplation with that of commerce. Caldey is the perfect example of an island adapting to survive, with full commitment from its residents, marketing the products it produces. Indeed, the Internet has been employed directly for this purpose, the Caldey website (Contacts and Links) providing visitor information and the ability to purchase online. At the time of writing, visitor numbers are exceeding 60,000 per annum.

The island has a rich history concerning pirates, sixth century monasteries, legal disputes and unearthed skulls; but we will leave them for you to discover. Start with Roscoe Howells' excellent book 'Caldey'.

Madeira Island: The largest island at 741,000m² of the Madeira Islands archipelago, all of which are of volcanic origin. Madeira, along with its sister island of Porto Santo, is the summit of an undersea mountain, rising up with craggy cliffs from the blue Gulf Stream waters in one of the deepest regions of the Atlantic. Its mountainous backbone stretches along its longer axis from east to west, which many deep valleys and canyons penetrate from both coasts.

Madeira is essentially accessible only by air. There is no regular passenger ferry, but cruise ships occasionally call. It is a popular destination for walkers, botanists, bird watchers and Madeira wine connoisseurs. The east side of the island with its newly built modern hotels attracts the tourist trade offering high class and comfort within the beautiful surroundings.


The name "Madeira" originates from the Portuguese word for "wood" due to the indigenous forest, which once covered the whole island (until the original settlers decided to clear the land for farming by setting most of the island on fire). The little that is left of the forests, mainly on the northern slopes of Madeira Island, have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The islands were discovered and inhabited in the 15th century by the ancient Portuguese mariners. Porto Santo and Madeira were the first 'new worlds' that were colonised by Henry the Navigator in his quest to explore the world. Portugal granted autonomy to Madeira on 1st July 1976 following the democratic revolution of 1974. The Autonomous Region of Madeira is now composed of Madeira Island, Porto Santo Island, the Desertas Islands and Savage Islands.


With its mild humidity, the climate on the islands is classified as subtropical. The island is a floating garden as it blooms with orchids, bougainvillea, frangipani, wisteria and geraniums. Fruit and herbs grow in profusion on the hillsides and in ravines, and the mountain slopes are terraced with orchards and vineyards. The location is also of importance for breeding seabirds, including Madeiran storm-petrel, North Atlantic little shearwater and Cory's shearwater.

In the 16th century the Portuguese built a unique irrigation system of levadas (aqueducts) to transport water from the wet North to the dry South. There are over 2,000km of levadas including 240km of tunnels, which provide a remarkable network of popular walking paths.


Funchal, the capital of the island, is a modern city within a naturally formed amphitheatre, which begins at the harbour and rises almost 1200 metres on gentle slopes providing a shelter which attracted the first settlers. To appreciate the magnificent views you can take the cable car from the old part of the town up to the village of Monte in the mountains above the city. The journey is about 15 minutes and ends near the Monte Palace Tropical Garden.


Although Madeira boasts outstanding natural beauty and a very agreeable subtropical climate, the island lives and breathes another life other than being totally in awe of the tourist money. It manages successfully yet unobtrusively to capitalise on its chosen specialities: its famous embroidery, Madeira wine, sugar, honey and rum. The ratio of tourists to local population is low. You will struggle to experience box room hotels, crammed tour buses, uniformed and overly enthusiastic tour operators, institutional food or any harassment from the locals. Madeira life is different from that of other destinations that have been hurriedly developed for tourism since the advent of charter flights and you are welcome to leave if you can pull yourself away.

Isle of Man: A dependency of the UK, but none the less independent and no part of the UK. The island has its own legal system, courts, civil service, customs and excise service, education and health services and social security system. Its parliament, the Tynwald is the oldest continuous parliament in the world, dating from 979 AD.


The Triskelion is the symbol of the island, three bent legs, each with a spur, joined at the thigh. The three legs relate to the island's motto "Withersoever you throw it, it will stand".

The island is located in the middle of the Irish Sea, equidistant between Scotland, Wales and Ireland. It covers and area of 572,000m² and its highest mountain Snaefell stands 621 metres above sea level. The island is home to in excess of 75,000 residents, the population having increased almost continuously since 1961.

Due to the lively sea crossing from Heysham (England) to Douglas, the capital of the island, we were advised by the crew not to be on deck for safety reasons; much of the journey was spent in the cinema and avoiding the toilets. The authors have travelled by sea with the Steam Packet Company (routes from Belfast, Liverpool, Dublin and Heysham) and flown with Manx airlines previously, but sailing is always fun if you can spare the time.


Douglas is an interesting town, the promenade of which is ploughed by horse pulled tram; it is a flash back to the days of the great British Victorian seaside holiday. The Manx heritage museum in Douglas documents well the island's seaside heritage. However, due to the rise in popularity and affordability of package holidays, with guaranteed sun, the Isle of Man has directly suffered; it became a ghost of its former self.

Much of the seaside accommodation has been converted into offices for the financial services industry. Many islanders viewed this transformation with dismay, preferring to divert resources to other industries including agriculture and farming that would provide employment for islanders. Resistance was high during the transformation, and the letters 'FSFO' were commonly painted on the walls of new financial buildings. The four letters are an abbreviation of the war cry "Financial Sector Funk Off" (the third word altered to protect the innocent and our chance of winning any website awards).


The 1991 census revealed for the first time ever, that less than a half of the island's population was actually born on the island. The reason for the transition was the growth of the finance sector; the population increasingly consisting of new employees with specialist skills and retirees seeking to minimise tax payments for themselves and their next of kin.

The island has successfully re-invented itself as an off-shore financial haven. Income tax is low and corporation tax is non-existent. At the time of writing, the finance sector accounts for 45% of the island's income. The island has benefited from the online gambling industry and it has also been successful in promoting itself as a location for film and television.

Isle of Man has been creative in attracting a level of tourism by organising specific high profile events including the world famous TT (Tourist Trophy) races established in 1907 and the island's international football tournament.

The island has been successful in the finance sector, but at what cost to the island's character, culture and future identity? Ask the Manx nationalists Mec Vannin. Oh, and if you do visit, make sure you go to Peel at sunset and do say "Good day" to the Little People of Fairy Bridge for me.

Ko Samet: A Thai island off the coast of the province of Rayong, 200km south east of Bangkok, 6.5km offshore. Ko Samet is a mere 6km in length and belongs to the Khao Laem Ya – Mu Ko Samet national park, which was established in 1981 by the Royal Forest department.


Geckos and fruit bats (known locally as flying foxes) appear in abundance, as does a variety of marine and birdlife.

Hiking and reef diving is popular here. Walkers are attracted to the island by the mountains and hills, picturesque beaches and sea views on this compact paradise. Boat trips also operate from the island.

Reed huts with concrete flooring and occasional electricity have been established to cater for tourism. Camping facilities and a visitor centre have also been provided. Several open air

restaurants, a modest book exchange and an Internet cafe are also available for the visitor.

Reading is a popular pursuit whilst attempting to avoid direct sunlight and the associated almost instantaneous burning. Evening entertainment generally consists of the screening of films; not particularly up to date, but offering a hint of Christmases past.


Although easily accessible from Bangkok, Ko Samet retains a level of comfort and tranquillity that is missing from most other Thai islands. The status of national park has assisted, by limiting the growth in physical infrastructure.

Ko Samet is a popular recreational destination with locals and foreigners. This is an achievement in a region where so many locations have been dominated by and cater almost exclusively for the international visitor.

The island faces an ongoing dilemma: to retain its current modest growth rate, or actively market itself. Ko Samet is known to the Thai people, but for the international visitor the island receives negligible coverage in guide books. Trips to the island are typically arranged having arrived in Thailand and with time to spare. The island has webpages linked to Thai government websites and private tour companies.

The economy is reliant on tourism and a specific charge is paid to visit the national park. Revenue received is invested in forestry projects. Our preference is to leave this gem as it is, a joy to be discovered, an undeveloped island of adventure (its greatest USP) – but then again, we were fortunate whilst visiting the Thai mainland to discover Ko Samet.

Isle of Arran: The largest island in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland at 430,000m². The island has a rapidly expanding population in excess of five thousand at the time of writing.


Evidence of occupation dates back to the Neolithic period and curiously Arran is a former possession of Norway.

Brodick is the main village on the island and is linked by ferry to the Scottish mainland at Ardrossen; Lochranza in the north is linked to Argyll. The island has a complete coast road and two roads cutting across east to west.

Arran is a popular destination for geologists, walkers (hoofers), golfers, romantic historians, anglers, divers and Arran whisky enthusiasts. Of particular note are Brodick castle, the heritage museum and King's cave; the cave where Robert the Bruce was reputed to have taken shelter.


Arran is perhaps the most tourist oriented of the Scottish islands, with ample accommodation, facilities and well signposted paths. Craft shops are plentiful including fine jewellery and woollen products; courses in island crafts are also available.

The island has developed a special reputation with regard to golf, boasting seven quality courses. Take time out from the wondrous view to count the number of golf bags during the steamer crossing!

Farming also thrives with sightings of black-face sheep and Ayrshire cows being a regular occurrence.


In the opinion of the authors the best camping is to be had in Lochranza and Lamlash and a walk to the top of Goat Fell is essential. If you do go trekking in the forests watch out for the wee beasties (the midges and horse flies) that can deliver a nasty (and sometimes colourful) bite.

A significant contribution to the economic success of Arran has been its focus on tourism, promoting the island's relative accessibility and providing attractions and facilities. The islanders however have maintained their individuality, culture and character and have ensured that the island has not been spoilt by the waves of visitors who fill the Caledonian MacBrayne ferries. "Come and see us, stay for a while, see us again next year; just don't stay here!"

Lundy Island: An English island administered by the county of Devon and located in the Bristol Channel. The island is 4.5 km long and 1 km wide. It has a small resident population, principally employed in tourism. Since 1969 the island has been the property of the National Trust who leases the island to the Landmark Trust, which administers and maintains the island and its properties. Residential properties are rented to visitors.


We made the crossing in fairly choppy seas via the MS Oldenburg, which is the island's own vessel. Leaving Bideford harbour, as the sun was rising and burning off the morning mist, we avoided the bacon sandwiches, predicting correctly the unfortunate (though mildly amusing) outcome for those that partook. The island also boasts a helicopter, which is used to transport visitors in particularly bad weather and / or in the winter months.

The island of Lundy is visible from the Devon coast, but it was pleasant to remain on deck and observe as it moved into focus. The island features two operational lighthouses and is not dissimilar to a large aircraft carrier.

In terms of its heritage, Henry II gave the island to the Knights Templar as an English port of refuge. Since that time the island became a haven for pirates and outlaws until it was seized by royal forces and subsequently returned to anarchy. The island's history is extensive; if you would like to know more (and there is a lot more) visit the Lundy website (see contacts and links).


Landing at the jetty and following a steep climb up well maintained paths, we reached the island's plateau. Lundy features a church, pub, shop, farm and much more. The church and pub are gems; the pub filled with maritime memorabilia.

With the exception of the rented holiday accommodation, located in the restored island buildings, it is possible to venture inside most of the structures, including climbing to the top of the old disused lighthouse.

The island's economy is tourism focussed, with a small proportion of its income generated from sheep farming and postage stamps. Attractions that have developed include guided walks hosted by experts in the island's flora and fauna and snorkelling safaris. Other activities include canoeing, campanology, painting and photography.


A variety of birdlife can be observed including puffins, oystercatchers, guillemots, razorbills and meadow pipits. With regards to mammals, you may spot sika deer, soay sheep, feral goats, melanistic rabbits and grey seals.

Lundy is home to the unique Lundy cabbage (Coincya wrightii), which in turn hosts the Lundy cabbage flea beetle and the Lundy cabbage weevil.

In recent years the island has specifically marketed itself with a trade stand at the North Devon show, in addition to having an excellent website. It also has an active friends network, which builds a relationship between island and the visitors as well as offering tangible visitor discounts. A brochure can also be ordered online.

One thing is for sure, if the island did not recognise the importance of its visitors, it would not be the beautiful and well maintained location that it is today. There will be no return to anarchy on Lundy!

Flat Holm: A Welsh island lying six kilometres from Lavernock Point in South Wales. The island is approximately 250,000m² and features a working automatic lighthouse.


The island was the location Guglielmo Marconi selected in 1897 to receive the first wireless signals over water. The island is a former home to a cholera sanatorium and thousands of pairs of lesser black-backed herring gulls.

A one time island of iniquity Flat Holm has been leased by South Glamorgan County Council for 99 years and is a dedicated nature reserve as stipulated in the lease of 1975. Ynys Echni as it is known in Welsh has a website at www.flatholm.co.uk.

We sailed on the motor vessel Lewis Alexander from Barry docks in the company of an assortment of professors and postgraduate student biologists from Cardiff University. We arrived in breeding season, the gulls nesting on their three eggs each. Wearing a hat was essential as protection against pecks and bodily fluids administered by the gulls. The noise they produced was incredible and for some unnerving.

Slow worms, wild leek and wild peony can all be observed. Military constructions are prolific and include radar station, defensive earthworks, eighteenth century cannon, anti-aircraft and searchlight emplacements.

The island is currently raising funds to restore the former hospital, the opposite strategy to common practice on the mainland. The former lighthouse keeper’s accommodation is currently being renovated as holiday accommodation to permit stopovers.


Flat Holm is inhabited by volunteers who manage the island’s flora and fauna and hope to restore the island to its former glory.

If you are planning to visit the island to paint, sketch, explore – then forget it. Island visits are managed in a uniquely unimaginative and amateur way. Unlike other islands, the Farne islands being a textbook example of how to manage visits properly, the visitor is escorted to a tight schedule and is walked through the middle of the gull colonies, at great trauma to the birds being protected. The alternative option is to remain in an enclosed picnic area.

Without revenue from government or visitors, Flat Holm would become an uncared for rubbish dump; refuge is washed onto the beaches from the Severn and beak delivered by the gulls from nearby mainland landfill sites. The leaseholder could do far more to attract visitors to the island and the resident volunteers should treat visitors as guests and not as a hindrance (and you all thought that The Sound of Storensay was a work of fiction!).

Of all the islands visited in the course of research for the book Sound of Storensay, Flat Holm was a uniquely poor experience. But don’t take our word for it…


Looe island: Also known as St. George’s island. Looe is a small (91,000m²) island, which lies two kilometres off the town of Looe in Cornwall, England and is the property of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

Looe is an island of outstanding natural beauty that was previously inhabited by two sisters, the last passing away in 2004. It was once a popular haunt for smugglers and the site of a Benedictine chapel constructed in 1139.

Looe island has its own website located at www.looeisland.com, which advises that the island has been a popular tourist attraction for decades and gives further information.

Steep Holm: An English island located in the Bristol Channel, off Weston super Mare. For administration purposes the island is part of North Somerset. The island is inhabited by a warden and is protected as a nature reserve and as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The island was fortified in the Second World War and features an unusual 600mm railway line built in 1941, which is German in origin. Remains are also evident of previous military construction.

The island in its past has been farmed, inhabited by pirates and was the location for mediaeval priory.

Anticipate sightings of gulls and cormorants and perhaps a Muntjac deer.

If you’d like to know more about Steep Holm visit www.steepholm.freeserve.co.uk.

Locations visited

Anglesey, GB | Isle of Arran, GB | Britain, GB | Caldey Island, GB | Crete, GR | Farne Islands, GB | Flat Holm, GB | Ireland IRL, NI | Islay, GB | Jersey, GBJ | Lindisfarne, GB | Long Island, USA | Lundy Island, GB | Madeira, P | Majorca, E | Isle of Man, GBM | St Michael's Mount, GB | Newfoundland, CDN | Ko Samet, T | Singapore, SGP | Isle of Wight, GB