Lundy – Cooking on My Island of Dreams

I’ve been celebrating my birthday over the past few days. I’ve received lots of cards and flowers and some lovely gifts including several books. Only one of these book gifts was what I would call a ‘reading book’.  The other books include a photo book celebrating a friendship and places visited, a set of LV European City Guides, a book by Rob Ryan and … ‘Lundy Cookery: recipes for a small island‘ by Ilene Sterns. The book is published by Corydora Press who have formed their own FlickR group ‘Lundy Cookery Around The World’. My friends also managed to get Ilene to sign it especially for me!

I’ve twice visited Lundy, an island in the Bristol Channel 3 miles long by half a mile wide, as a day tripper by boat from Ilfracombe. The journey takes about two hours on the MS Oldenburg and fortunately on both occasions the Bristol Channel was as still as a millpond! Sailings are in the spring and summer months from about the beginning of April to the end of  October. During the remaining months Lundy is a mere 7 minute helicopter ride from Hartland Point, 20 miles west of Bideford on the north Devon coast.

The MS Oldenburg tied up at the Lundy quayside

Lundy, or Puffin Island, is owned by the National Trust (so there’s a small discount on the sailing price for members) and the 23 self-catering holiday properties are managed by the Landmark Trust. It’s an uphill trek from the quay to the village but when you get there there’s a pub – The Marisco Tavern – and a shop and a cluster of buildings – some farm and some holiday accommodation. My first stop has been at the pub each time for sustenance and then a call at the shop for postcards and Lundy stamps and then I have taken a walk. There are marvellous views of the north Devon coast and the paths are clear and grassy. One walk was up the east side to Threequarters Wall and across to the west side and back down to the Old Light, the cemetery and St Helena’s Church. On my second visit a much shorter walk was to the Castle, the South West Point and back up to the Old Light. Then a final cup of tea at the Marisco before heading back down to the Quay and the awaiting boat.

Lundy Castle and Approach Track

In her introduction to Lundy Cookery Ilene reminded me what a treasure trove and Aladdin’s Cave the shop was despite its remote location. All Lundy Landmark kitchens are well equipped with basic cooking equipment but they do lack weighing scales, liquidisers, toasters and loaf tins. Ilene’s recipes manage to get around these would-be problems. In particular her recipes specify quantities by volume rather than by weight. She has also included a useful section which she has called ‘Salmagundi’ *- it’s about minimising food waste and lists ingredients alphabetically linking them to recipes in the book. For example under Honey she lists 6 dishes included in the book including Honey Mustard Vinaigrette (p.98), Lundy Mess (p.116) and then suggests some other uses. Waste not want on Lundy Island. There’s a useful index too.

*Definition: a salad plate of chopped meats, anchovies, eggs, and vegetables arranged in rows for contrast and dressed with a salad dressing. ( Sounds good to me!

“Most of the book’s recipes are simple and quick to prepare, so you won’t be stuck in the kitchen when you’d rather be outdoors.” (p. 2) Now that’s my kind of cookery book!


7 comments on “Lundy – Cooking on My Island of Dreams

  1. Oh Barbara…happy birthday to yoooooou and am I right in thiking it might have been a ‘special’ one?? In which case extra good wishes….though the blog post date seems to say Jan 1st, so I might be a bit after the event.
    Can I confess I have never been to Lundy even though I should have been, and now I think I might. We will be holidaying on an island a bit further north this year and I am really looking forward to getting a feel for island life, it has to ‘feel’ different surely.

  2. Thank you, Lynne, yes the big six o as 30 Jan. But my 3 year Senior Rail Card arrived today so not all doom and gloom! WordPress seem to have made the date 1st Jan. instead of 1st Feb. I have been on to them and hopefully it will get changed soon. I feel another Lundy visit coming on soon. Choose a calm day although it doesn’t look very far away it takes 2+ hours to get there and if the sea’s rough … Anglesey? Skye? Man? Are you going to let on?

    • Even further north… Barbara! Think Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.
      BH and I have just agreed over dinner that we would both love a spring day trip to Lundy so that’s on the agenda now.

  3. I still have no idea. Skye? I now await the report of your Lundy trip with great interest!

  4. […] I’ve made two day trips to Lundy during the season and, luckily, enjoyed perfect sailing weather on both. It’s a bit of a slog up the path from the mooring jetty to the village but then level walking along stony or grassy footpaths for wonderful sea views. There’s a shop, a pub and a church. Read more about my day trips here. […]

  5. queenbreaca says:

    Have just found the above entry – what a coincidence! On my last visit to Lundy in April I found that recipe book in my accomodation, the Radio Room, and tried some of the recipes. The good thing about it is that you can get all the suggested ingredients in the Lundy shop. I’d like to recommend “Lundy Mess”, a variation of Eton Mess (so I’ve been told).

    • Not entirely a coincidence that the book is in the Radio Room library – given its title. It’s also just as well that the Lundy shop stocks the ingredients – there would be nowhere else to buy them once you get there. I just enjoyed reading the book without bothering with the cooking. Any plans yet for your next visit?

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