Scilly Isles and crystal blue sky

Life is different on the Scilly Isles. Sky and sea are azure blue, and the sand is white. Everyone slows down, takes a step back.

My wife and I often visit, exploring the islands, enjoying the wildlife - particularly the puffins, who visit in summer. There are regular organised walks and tours with historical floral and wildlife bents. The warm sunlight encourages artists and galleries and I have my annual go at producing a water colour.

There are five inhabited islands, and visitors can arrive at St Mary's by ferry, plane or helicopter, or at Tresco by helicopter. A small boat ferries people between the islands.

St Mary's is the largest island, and boasts four or five pubs, teashops, restaurants and hotels, and about nine miles of road. There is a productive local fishing fleet and excellent seafood cuisine.

St Martins, to the north, is one mile long with a single track road running between the two quays.

An occasional jeep can be seen carrying produce from the bakery or vineyard. One of the many coves of beautiful white sand, with safe, secluded if a little chilly bathing, was voted the best beach in Europe.

On Tresco, you will find the Abbey gardens, with a mass of exotic flora collected from the tropics and southern hemisphere, like a southern Kew Gardens without the roof.

Bryher is to the west, with spectacular bays and views across to uninhabited islands. It is also a favourite for bird watchers, as many migratory birds stop here. The neighbours are a short boat trip away on which one might have a seal or dolphin escort.

We like nothing better than sitting in the terraced garden of the Seven Stones Inn on St Martins, looking across a plethora of small bulb fields over white sand and viridian sea to the busy port of St Mary's. With a pint of Cornish ale, the surrounding subtropical plants and the fearless garden birds that are prepared to look you in the eye. There is no better place.

Dr Kevin Brown is a GP in Bideford, Devon.

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