Подкаст: "Islands"

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Andy Strangeway is a painter and decorator. He lives in Yorkshire in the north of England. When I say that he is a painter, I do not mean that he paints pictures. No; he paints peoples houses, and puts up wallpaper in their sitting rooms. That is his job; it is what he does for a living. But when he isn’t painting doors and windows, Andy collects islands. Let me explain.

Scotland is a land of mountains and islands. There are 284 mountains over 3000 feet high (that is, a bit less than 1000 metres high). Some people who are really keen on walking and climbing have climbed all of them. There are also 162 islands of more than 40 hectares in Scotland. Several years ago, Andy Strangeway decided to go to all of them. And this year he visited the last islands on his list. As far as he knows, no-one has ever visited all the islands before.

Perhaps you are thinking that visiting islands is easy. You just take a ferry to the island; you get off the ferry; perhaps you go for a little walk, or buy a cup of coffee in a cafe; and then you get back on the ferry and go home. Easy. Much easier than climbing mountains, which needs skill and energy, and which is often difficult and dangerous.

Well, you can visit some of the Scottish islands by ferry. But out of 162 islands, 99 are uninhabited – no-one lives there, so there is no ferry. So Andy Strangeway had to find boatmen to take him to many of the islands. Also, Andy decided that it was not enough just to visit an island. He would stay at least one night on each island, generally in a tent.

The Scottish islands are very varied – that means that they are very different one from another. A few are low-lying and fertile. Others are really just rocks sticking out of the Atlantic Ocean. Some are close to the mainland and to civilisation (things like discos and supermarkets). Others are far out to sea.

There is, for instance, a fascinating group of islands called St Kilda, far to the west of Scotland. People lived on St Kilda for thousands of years, making a living from fishing, keeping sheep and hunting sea birds. But life there was very hard, and in 1930 the whole community left St Kilda and moved to the mainland. If you visit St Kilda today, you can see the ruins of the houses in which the people lived – it must be rather sad.

Another island is uninhabited for a different reason. During the second World War, the British government experimented with germ and chemical weapons, to use against Germany. On an island called Gruinard, scientists carried out experiments using a deadly disease called anthrax. This made Gruinard a very dangerous place, and for 48 years the island was completely closed to visitors.

Well, Andy has now stayed overnight on all the Scpttish islands, including St Kilda and Gruinard. He has endured rain, wind and rough seas. He did not do it alone, however. He took his teddy-bear, called Clyde, with him. So Clyde is the first teddy bear to visit every island in Scotland. Isn't that nice!

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