Those of you who follow me on Facebook or Instagram will know that I’ve been on holiday (yes, again!). But this was a rather special trip, somewhere I’ve always wanted to go – to the Galapagos islands.
All I can say is that the holiday certainly lived up to expectations. I’m always slightly anxious about so-called “trips of a lifetime”: expectations are so high that it seems almost inevitable that they won’t be met.
But visiting the Galapagos was exactly like walking into a David Attenborough documentary, where the wildlife is so unaccustomed to predators that you could get amazingly close (if you were allowed). For there are strict controls on what you can do, which islands and landing sites boats can visit and how close you can get to the wildlife (2 metres max). Our guide made sure that we obeyed all the rules!
Nor is anyone allowed to take anything from the islands. As you can imagine, this was extremely difficult for me, an inveterate shell and pebble collector, but I completely understand the reasons behind the rule.
Instead, when I had time, I used some of the materials I found to create some temporary artworks that would eventually be dispersed by the tide, the wind, or the animals.
This one was made using mangrove leaves on Tortuga Beach on the inhabited island of Santa Cruz. We spent a couple of days on this island before and after the eight-day cruise.
This second one was made from the legs of pencil sea urchins on the uninhabited island of Fernandina. The beach was awash with thousands of these bead-like objects, so it didn’t take long to create this arrangement. During our snorkelling trips I also saw many live sea urchins with their legs intact!
This is a curve of dead guava leaves on the edge of the caldera of Sierra Negra volcano, on Isabela island. After a drizzly climb to the top, we were greeted by a rainbow in the caldera below us. I really wanted to make seven of these curves to represent the rainbow, but I didn’t have time.
The fourth one was back on Tortuga Beach, at the end of the trip. I had a bit more time here, so was able to record the leaves being washed away as the tide came in!
The last one was in mainland Ecuador, in the beautiful Intag Valley, where farmers try to eke a living growing bananas and sugarcane on virtually vertical slopes.
Now it’s back to dark afternoons and the pre-Christmas rush of fairs and markets, starting this weekend, when I’m back at the fabulous American Museum in Bath for their Christmas Craft Fair.