One of our day trips from the main island, St Mary’s, was to St Martin’s. It’s a relatively small island, only about two miles across, but it is so beautiful. It’s well-loved and craggy, quite unlike Tresco, and is easily the eco-tourism capital of the Isles of Scilly.
Our first stop was Little Arthur’s Farm, an organic, self-sustaining family-run enterprise that offers self-catering cabins as well as a bistro and a cafe at either end of the island. We didn’t stay there, but we did have lunch at the Little Arthur’s cafe, which was excellent. They use seasonal produce grown in their own farm, source milk from their own small herd of cows, serve fresh seasonal fish, crab and lobster caught in their own boats, and produce some of the my freshest bread rolls I’ve ever eaten. Yum!
Our main reason for going out to St Martin’s, though, was St Martin’s Vineyard. Ever since Matthew and I went to some vineyards in Kent last summer I’ve been obsessed with British vineyards — there’s something so unexpected about them yet strangely mediaeval. They somehow don’t seem very likely in this modern world. In any case, you can imagine how panicked I felt when we got there and discovered it was closed. Fortunately, owner Graham Thomas was on site and took some time out from tending his vines to show us around and give us a wine-tasting!!
We tasted two of the four varieties he had bottled — a crisp, tangy white and a meaty, complex rose — and came home with both! Normally I run away from roses screaming, but this is just so smoky and full-bodied that I immediately fell in love with it.
Graham is such a font of knowledge and kindly answered all my questions with genuine enthusiasm, and seemed rather pleased when I asked him about verjuice. (He hasn’t started making it yet, but is very keen to get stuck into researching into it further. If he takes it up, I will definitely be their first customer!) They aren’t producing enough just yet for mass marketing, but I really do hope we start to see some of St Martin’s wines on the shelves one day. The vines are still young, which means their grapes can only become even more flavourful.
For anyone wanting a slightly off-the-beaten-path holiday, I really couldn’t recommend staying on St Martin’s more. I hope to make it a regular haunt.
Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures when my digital camera while we were there, but there are plenty on my SLR! (Which reminds me, I must look into getting those developed.)