South Stack lighthouse, Holy Island

In conversation with our accountant last week I said, ‘Never mind the VAT, what about the puffins?’

She’d told me in an email that she had recently been on a sailing holiday around the Hebridean Isle of Mull, and shared a picnic with puffins. The puffins had just arrived back on land from sea, ready to start breeding, and were cleaning up their nesting sites. I was enchanted with this image. A picnic with puffins. It also reminded me that puffins visit a nesting site on Anglesey, much nearer Liverpool than Mull. The Atlantic Puffin spends most of its time out at sea, but comes back to land to breed between April and July. Meaning May is one of the best times to see them.

Puffins are small seabirds in the family of auks. All have small wings and on land are fairly clumsy, as they are designed for fishing and swimming underwater. They are characterised by their colourful stripey beaks, only like this in the breeding season, and bright orange feet. I’ve never seen one because, although they do come to the UK, they choose remote inaccessible places to breed, out of the way of predators like mammals. Now I am reminded and I want to see one.

So, I say to Ronnie, ‘Shall we go and see the puffins?’ And he knows that I mean tomorrow or the next day. There’s a sense of immediacy that happens after a cancer diagnosis. If it’s happening now, then I want to see it. Now. So we do. Continue reading