SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON: ISLAND CASTAWAYS
These are the pictures that estate agents hope will entice a - suitably wealthy - buyer who perhaps wants to get away from it all.
For those tempted by the the isolated home, which stands on its own island off the Scottish coast, will need deep pockets, as 'King's Island' has gone on sale for a cool £3million.
The 260-acre island sits just 350 yards from the coast of west Scotland, and has its own helicopter pad next to the remote four-bedrooms house which has pride of place on the isolated isle.
This boat jetty looking out on to Loch Craignish is one of very few man-made parts of the isle
Ample space: The four bedroom property on the island has extensive garden and driveway space due to its unique location
Although requiring access by boat or helicopter, the 260-acre island is a haven for many forms of wildlife
As well as the four-bedroom house, the island off Loch Craignish comes with a boat house, observatory for gazing at the Northern Lights, and its own helicopter facility.
While King's Island may be the ideal hideaway for a James Bond villain, its abundance of wildlife makes it a perfect purchase for a nature lover.
It is frequently visited by a population of deer that swim over from the mainland and the sheltered waters also attract dolphins, otters, sea eagles and ospreys.
There is an endless supply of salmon and lobsters that the new owner can exclusively fish for.
The island is currently owned by top City trader Christian Siva-Jothy, a former partner in Goldman Sachs, who has modernised the main house.
Room with a view: The owner of the island can look forward to seeing salmon, lobster and other forms of wildife in and around its shores
Spacious: The island also comes with its own boathouse and observatory
He closed down the $200million business he began after leaving Goldman Sachs and made a stunning confession about his ability to play the market.
Mr Siva-Jothy wrote to investors in his firm SemperMacro: 'In this business, you are only as good as your last few trades.
'Mine have not been very good. Whether I have lost my edge or simply need a break after 23 years, I am not sure. I certainly hope it’s the latter.'
It is thought his financial misfortune has forced him to sell up.
Previous owners have included Sir Reginald Johnston, a retired tutor to Puyi, the last Chinese emperor, in the 1930s and then a retired Indian army officer.
Ran Morgan, from the estate agents, said: 'The island is stunningly beautiful and surrounded by the most extraordinary land and seascapes.
Isolated: King's Island sits 350 yards from the mainland of west Scotland
Remote: The four bedroom house on the island provides spectacular views, but little neighbourly contact
'It is so peaceful and tranquil yet it only takes 10 minutes to travel by boat to reach the mainland or 25 minutes to fly by helicopter to Glasgow.
'The coastal village of Ardfern is the nearest settlement and has a large marina, supermarket and a thriving school.
'The wildlife is also quite incredible and while the salmon farm just a few yards off the island is privately owned there is nothing to stop you from dropping a rod and line into the water.
'The loch is sheltered and is also a wonderful place for water sports like kayaking and diving.
'This is a fantastic opportunity for someone to live a bit of a Robinson Crusoe-type existence and be at one with nature.'
A man living alone on an island like Robinson Crusoe for almost 20 years faces eviction from his castaway oasis.
The Australian man has been living on tiny Restoration Island off the north-eastern coast of Australia since 1993 after the former high-flying Sydney businessman lost £6.5 million in the 1987 stock market crash.
Living off crabs and coconuts, and connected to solar-powered internet, David Glasheen has enjoyed a life of private tranquillity his dog Quasi, calling himself ‘the luckiest bloke in the world’.
|On the 12 August 1770, far north on the Great Barrier Reef, Captain James Cook landed on a small palm-fringed island that seemed overrun with fast-moving, long-tailed reptiles. He promptly named his new find Lizard Island. |
My reef experience begins in a distinctly lizard-less manner, but that is because it starts in the air, flying to Lizard Island over an endless iridescent blue sea dotted with coral cays.
My arrival on Captain Cook's island is somewhat different too. Instead of a greeting by leathery locals, I am handed a cool glass of champagne by tranquil staff. After all, Cook's hangout is now an exclusive private island and preferred bolthole of Aussie actors Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman.
Captain Cook's retreat: Lizard Island was named after its leathery-skinned inhabitants
Apart from garnering A-list approval, the island retains much of the charm from Cook's time. The sand is powder-white, the turquoise sea quietly lapping and the temperatures - when I visit in October - a comfortable 27C.
But of course there is one major change, a rather luxurious - and recently revamped - hotel bathes among the sun-loving lizards.
Suites are dotted just metres from the water's edge, all bright airy spaces and iPod docking stations. But there are no televisions, just in case any guests needing coaxing away from Neighbours and out onto the Great Barrier Reef.
Sharing this luxury cay is the Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation, which is owned by the Australian Museum. Hotel guests can visit the research station, which supplies on-reef facilities for coral reef research and education.
I spend my days basking in the sun, occasionally diving or heading to the Cod Hole dive site on Ribbon Reef 10 (an hour’s boat ride away) so I can snorkel with giant sized potato cod, which weigh in at 150kg or more each and can make somewhat scary swimming companions.
Deep blue: The Great Barrier Reef has plenty to explore under the water's surface
The first thing I see when I hit the water are these huge fish, twice my size, swimming slowly towards me. Their colossal bulk, big bulging lips and rough bodies fascinate me, they are bland in colour when compared to some of the reef’s beautifully bright neon fish, yet they are gentle when hand-fed by our guide.
Alternatively, spoil yourself to a relaxing treatment at the hotels new Azure Spa. Lizard Island is not high brow, it’s low key and intimate, and the staff has a way of making your day special.
Reluctantly I leave the luxuries and personal attention of Lizard Island, and head south to another animal favourite - Heron Island.
David Attenborough stayed here during the filming of the BBC series 'First Life' and described the Island as his top place to stay to see marine wildlife up close.
It is an unpretentious, interactive and educational resort, popular with families looking to explore the reef.
The resort shares the tiny island with The Heron Island Research Station and Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service.
This year, the resort and the Research Station hatched a partnership to provide resort guests with a greater opportunity to learn about and get up close to turtles.
Life of luxury: David Attenborough loved his stay on Heron Island
The Turtle Foundation staff and trained resort workers have teamed up to take guests on guided tours of the foundation’s facilities and accompany guests on night beach walks to observe turtles nesting and hatching.
I head to the beach with Turtle Foundation director Tim Harvey. We spot a female Green turtle scraping her way over old coral; she’s ill equipped for such obstacles, yet she drags herself up the beach until she finds a suitable nesting place.
Slowly, she digs a foot-deep pit and releases her eggs. Tim explains that at this stage turtles go into a sort of trance and are unaware we are there.
A popular treat fro visitors on Heron Island is to indulge in a two-night break on nearby Wilson Island.
This Robinson Crusoe-style retreat is all barefoot luxury and barefoot luxury and attentive staff. Accommodation is in six luxury tents, the food is gourmet and there is a 24-hour open bar.
The tiny island (it took me 10 minutes to walk around it at low tide) sits in a World Heritage area, there is minimal electricity and a generator and solar power provide power for cooking and to charge battery operated room lamps. Thankfully, there are no phones, no TVs and no mod cons.
The island is big on conservation, eco-tourism and protection of the island and reef. Whatever comes to the island leaves the island.
Meet the locals: Turtles drag themselves up onto the beach to lay their eggs under cover of darkness
Guests can eat together around a large table in the Long House. In the evenings we dine on delicious three-course meals and share stories of our reef adventures. Guests can also fish and cook their own catch for lunch or dinner.
I spend my days in the water, snorkeling on the reef, all it takes is a few steps into the sea and suddenly I am swimming with turtles, small reef sharks and a multitude of bright neon fish.
Late at night, under cover of darkness, I wield my turtle-spotting skills learnt on Heron Island and head to the beach down a narrow sandy path. En-route I encounter howling Mutton Birds, underground dwelling creatures that seasonally visit the island to nest. At night, the birds leave their burrows and stay up all night creating a loud haunting howl that sends shivers down your spine.
The sandy beach path turns a corner and I almost fall over an enormous Green turtle that is digging her nest in the middle of the path. Soon, I spot another turtle making her way up the beach in search of a soft damp sand to nest in.
Within half an hour, over 20 turtles have dragged themselves up the beach to lay their clutch of eggs. It was an amazing experience and one that will stay with me forever. I spend all night on the beach watching the turtles. It is this kind of experience that makes the Great Barrier Reef such a pull for nature-lovers.
And it seems there is an island for everyone, no matter how deep your pockets.
Australian Robinson Crusoe: Voluntary castaway David Glasheen has been living as a recluse on a small island off the Australian coast for almost 20 years with his dog Quasi but the island's directors are trying to evict him
But the Queensland government is trying to evict the voluntary castaway, in his sixties, after he failed to build a resort on the 1.53ha island, a condition of the lease which allowed him access to the land.
The Queensland Supreme Court recently ruled that the land should be repossessed and that he and his business partners are ‘trespassers’.
Living a reclusive life, Glasheen learnt to be self-sufficient, growing vegetables and brewing his own beer. He also still trades stocks using an online trading account.
He said: ‘You soon learn in the bush to survive. If you don’t you die pretty quickly.
‘It is a fabulous place, I am a lucky bloke to be there.
Lonely in love: Using his solar-powered internet connection Glasheen tried internet dating to find his 'Girl Friday' to live with him, using a mannequin to publicise his plight but had no luck
'Luckiest bloke in the world': Glasheen loves living on the island, catching fish and crabs, growing vegetables and brewing his own beer to survive
Broke island lease: The government has ruled that Glasheen must vacate Restoration Island, a 1.52ha oasis, having failed to build tourist accommodation and fishing facilities, a condition of his lease
'I have learnt a huge amount. I started to value what is really important. Trust, honesty, respect - simple things.
'I have learnt that you can do things with very little.'
While he loves his life in paradise, Glasheen does get lonely and several years ago tried internet dating to find ‘Girl Friday’ to live with him. He got hundreds of responses but had no luck in love.
Glasheen said: ‘It gets lonely out here.
‘My only hope is for a mermaid to turn up on the beach.’
A girlfriend had initially moved to the island, 1,500 miles from Queensland capital Brisbane, with Glasheen but found life there too difficult.
He is visited occasionally by passing yachtsmen, kayakers and groups of organic farmers.
Few visitors: Glasheen says sometimes he gets lonely with his dog his only companion but he is occasionally visited by passing yachtsmen, kayakers and organic farmers
Must vacate: The island's directors have been trying to evict Glasheen since 2000 and he says that he has 'no idea' what he will do if he has to move from the island he has been living on for almost 20 years
Australian oasis: Restoration Island is 1,500 miles from Queensland capital Brisbane and was named because Captain William Bligh found essential supplies were there that had been set adrift by mutineers on HMS Bounty
Glasheen leased one third of the island from the Australian Government for £13,000 a year on behalf of Restoration Island Priory Ltd.
The 43-year lease which allowed Glasheen required him and a business partner to develop fishing facilities and tourist accommodation valued at a minimum of £131,000 on the island, a condition which they failed to do.
A Supreme Court judgement said the island’s directors had been trying to get Glasheen to vacate the island since 2000.
The court said: ‘The defendants have wrongly deprived the plaintiff of its asset for over a decade during which time they have enjoyed its benefits.
Glasheen is considering appealing the decision.
Asked what he will do if he is forced to leave his island home he said: ‘I have no idea. I live on now. Tomorrow I might be dead.’
Restoration Island was named after Captain William Bligh found essential supplies that had been set adrift by mutineers of the HMS Bounty.
Survival skills: The picturesque island has taught Glasheen bush survival skills because 'if you don't (learn them) you die pretty quickly' he said
With white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and unadulterated solitude, a private island is most people's vision of paradise.
But all may not be as it seems as a number of private islands languish on the market and experts warn that some buyers are realizing that the hassle of living on one is more than it is worth.
There are now 600 islands up for sale around the world, according to experts, from the Caribbean to the chillier waters of northern Scotland, ranging in price from $50,000 to $100 million. The number of isles on the market has jumped three-fold since 2006.
A number of stunning island properties have also been on the market for some time.
The spectacular Petra Island near New York City has been for sale for years, and comes complete with a stunning home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The price is only available on request. Allen Island off the coast of Washington state first appeared on the market for $25m in 2005 and the owners are now asking $13.5m.
Island broker Farhad Vladi told The Sunday Times: 'Some celebrities are getting out of the the market as quickly as they can.'
But any dampening of enthusiasm from buyers has not deterred realtors, as this summer more stunning island homes have hit the market including Florida's Little Bokeelia island which is on sale for $29.5million.
It appears that the rich and famous who stump up the millions required for their own Robinson Crusoe experience, haven't bargained for trouble in paradise - which often includes no electricity, bureaucratic red tape, endangered species and exorbitant maintenance costs.
Lap of luxury: Petra Island, '15 minutes by helicopter' from New York City, has languished on the property market for years despite having buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
Suitable for a Bond villain: The price of Petra Island is only available on request (but if you need to ask, you probably can't afford it)
Rocking pad: Petra Island has a 1,200-square-foot cottage completed in 1949 to the specifications of the legendary designer Frank Lloyd Wright
Quirky: The homes on 11-acre Petra Island incorporate stone, cement and mahogany and are considered architectural masterpieces
British TV presenter Ben Fogle has also warned of the dangers of island ownership.
'A lot of people get seduced by the island dream without thinking of the realities,' he told The Times. He said people forget about the high maintenance costs of islands - including the large amount of rubbish being washed ashore.
Some 12,000 islands have been put up for sale in the past 100 years - but only one thousand have been fully developed to make for comfortable living. Problems include establishing power to remote locations, dealing with off-season storm damage, wild animals and untamed jungle or forest. Endangered species take precedence over indulged celebrity owners.
The lack of amenities to create the luxury to which they have become accustomed, appears to have been a stumbling block for several super-rich island owners.
Nicolas Cage got rid of his $3million Leaf Cay in the Bahamas after an endangered reptile put paid to his hopes for a luxury home. Singer Celine Dion is reportedly trying to sell her island in Canada for close to $30million - although hers does come with a French-style chateau thrown in.
And following the amicable split of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, Little Halls Pond Cay in the Bahamas could be on the market after it was reported that neither party was interested in keeping the idyllic spot.
Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen discovered that all the technology in the world didn't make it any easier to have his island near Seattle fitted with electricity.
Allan Island was bought in 1992 by Allen and is currently on the market for around $13million for which a buyer will get 292 acres, an airstrip, dock and luxury log cabin.
Paradise lost: Allan Island near Seattle, which belongs to the co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen, was put up for sale for around $13million after the billionaire couldn't bring electricity to it
Isle be off: Paul Allen is said to be off loading Allan Island for around $13 million because he has been unable to bring electricity to the island
Cabin in the woods: The island owned by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen comes with a luxury home
Relatively easier on the bank account is Jonathan Island, a secluded getaway in Rhode Island. For $1.4million, it has a protected wildlife sanctuary along with a modern two-bedroom cottage.
If your tastes are a little grander then Little Hawkins Island, Georgia has been heavily developed with a spacious home featuring wraparound porches, swimming pool and dock - although it is reflected in the price tag of $20million.
Petra Island, a 15-minute jaunt from New York City (if you have a helicopter that is), has been on the market for several years. The 11-acre island has two properties designed by the celebrated Frank Lloyd Wright incorporating mahogany, cement and stone into the striking structures. A cottage was finished in 1949 while the larger, 5,000 sq ft residence was completed in 2007 from drawings.
The price of Petra Island is only available on request (but if you need to ask, you probably can't afford it).
Florida's Little Bokeelia Island combines a picturesque property with blissful solitude - but there is nothing small about the price tag. The 104-acre island will set you back $29.5million.
Boat required: For those who want to get away from everyone, Jonathan Island is one of 600 islands up for sale around the world
Getting away from it all: Jonathan Island, in Rhode Island, is on the market for $1.4million and has its own cottage and wildlife sanctuary
On the dock of the bay: Jonathan Island is said to be easily accessibly due to its location on well-protected Point Judith Pond
No neighbors: The solitary cottage on Jonathan Island allows the owner absolute solitude
Life of luxury: Little Hawkins Island, Georgia has been heavily developed with grand home, swimming pool and dock although it is reflected in the price tag of $20million
Southern style: The estate on Little Hawkins Island has been heavily developed adding to its hefty $20million price tag
A-list lifestyle: Complete with chandeliers and luxury interior design, staying on Little Hawkins is far from roughing it in a beach shack
Not so small price tag: Little Bokeelia Island in Florida is on the market for an eye-watering $29.5 million
Picturesque: There is a Spanish-style villa built on the vast island with tiled courtyards and balconies
Great escape: Those with a couple of million to spare can join the Hollywood elite by purchasing their own island like Little Bokeelia
Tucked away: The serenity of island life appeals to many but three times as many islands have been put up sale since 2006 with high maintenance costs to blame
Looking for the ultimate getaway? Private Florida island with no neighbors and tranquil waterfront views on sale on Ebay for just $460,000
Are you searching for a bit of quiet time after a busy holiday season? If so, an uninhabited island in Florida's Intracoastal Waterway could be yours on Ebay for just $460,000. Emilio Cirelli, the current owner of the private land in the Halifax River, just off the coast of the city of Port Orange has put the deeds on Ebay with no strings attached.
Tranquil: This little bit of Florida could be yours for just $460,000
Location, location, location: The island is situated in a river, close to the beach
Potential: The interior of the island is ready to be built on
As reported in the Orlando Sentinel, Cirelli acquired the land in Volusia County after a previous owner defaulted on property taxes.
Now Cirelli says he can't afford to build on the land so has put the three-acre uninhabited property on the auction website. But at the time of writing there hasn't been too much interest. The advantages of the plot are obvious. A prime waterside plot, with no neighbors, the island was created as the Halifax River has been dredged. Cirelli claims the land is ready for development and the Ebay listing is full of promising details. But be quick, there are only a few hours of the auction left.
Picturesque: Watch the boats go by from your own private island
The land is close to Port Orange and some famous Florida beaches. The private island is 2 miles south of Dunlawton Bridge and the land is only accessible from the river. As the Ebay page states: 'Island are unique properties as 97% are government owned, not in private ownership, and typically priced over $1,000,000.' No back taxes are due and a down payment of just $25,000 is required. Cash, money order or certified funds will be accepted. Only Paypal is not welcome. Cirelli also claims that the island is close to some of the nicest beaches on the eastern seaboard. Though there are some downsides to the secluded private island. Everything has to be taken to the property by barge and there are no power facilities. The new owner would need to seek permission from local government to build anything there, and the highest point is only five feet above sea level.
Most island properties sell for over $1,000,000 but this one is less than half that price
There are uninterrupted views of the Inter coastal Waterway
Who said paradise had to be comfy? It's infested with rats, has no toilet or electricity and the roof keeps blowing off, but for one man his tiny private island is sheer heaven
Mentioning the words ‘Scottish islands’ rather casually at a drinks party in London tends to summon up the wrong image, writes Adam Nicolson. You can see the illusions forming in people’s minds: a salmon river probably, sweeping beaches of pure white coral sand with a hint of Ring Of Bright Water actress Virginia McKenna just over the horizon; a handsome, stone-built house — with drawing rooms, maybe, breakfasts emerging from distant kitchens — that magical ability to look out at appalling weather through perfectly maintained glass. I imagine this fantasy must exist somewhere, but sadly not on the islands which, since 1937, my family has been able to call their own.
My paradise: Adam Nicolson relaxes with his family on The Shiants islands that he owns in the Hebrides
Barren landscape: Rebecca Nicolson gazes down on Home Island from the peak of Rough Island
The Shiants are far out to sea between Skye and the Outer Hebrides, as exposed to the weather as the deck of any trawler.
Compton Mackenzie, the novelist who wrote Whisky Galore, later made into the classic Ealing comedy, owned them in the Twenties and Thirties. He described them as ‘three specks of black pepper in that uncomfortable stretch of sea called the Minch.’
There is nothing much to them: 500 acres of rough grazing, no quay or harbour, no good anchorage, no trees, nothing resembling a river, no sand on any of the steep cobbly beaches — almost nowhere, in fact, where it is possible to feel comfy. No one lives there full time, no ferries go there, and you have to hire a boat to deliver and collect you. Once you are there, the three islands make a tight little archipelago, fitting within a circle two and a half miles across.
The only building still with a roof on is what I like to call ‘the house’ and which others in my family, to my distress, often call ‘the shed’.
Out on the ocean waves: Adam takes a boat ride with three of his children during a trip to the islands
Embracing nature: Adam and his sister Rebecca braving the icy waters at Home Island
It is a two-roomed bothy, built originally for shepherds in the 1870s. It looks sweet, with two big windows staring out to sea and a chunky central door on which someone years ago put up a carved board, not quite straight, saying ‘Shiant Isles.’
Luxury accommodation it is not. The roof blows off from time to time. One year I arrived in the spring to find an entire shingle beach lining the back wall inside.
The sea, during a wild storm at a very high tide, had smashed the door in, and played havoc for a few hours, turning all the chairs and tables upside down. The house looked like an abandoned aquarium, complete with dead crabs and mounds of rotting seaweed on the floor.
The two small rooms are lined out in very nice tongue-and-groove boarding. There is a bottle-gas cooker, no electricity, so no fridge, just some cupboards.
There is no running water, so no sink. There is a table on which you can put a bowl filled with water from the spring. And there is a nice fireplace at each end, so you can get a proper blaze going.
After an hour or two of those fires lit, with some cleaning of the surfaces, flowers in jugs of water from the stream outside, something warming cooking on the stove, the paraffin lamps alight and a glass or two of malt whisky inside you, it is possible to banish some of the severity you invariably feel on arrival.
Keeping it in the family: Adam's father bought the Shiants in 1937 as an act of pure romance when he was 20, for £1,400 ¿ money his grandmother had left him
Honest assessment: By Adam's own admission, there is nothing much to the islands: Around 500 acres of rough grazing, no quay or harbour, no good anchorage, no trees and nothing resembling a river
It is not a cosy place. The sea is far too cold to swim in most of the time. There is no toilet or bath, which is fine, except for the sensibilities of others when you return to civilisation.
We go to the loo in what is discreetly called ‘the inter-tidal zone’, where the swish to and fro of Atlantic tides sweeps away anything you are prepared to offer them.
This lack of cosiness is not eased by the rats. Shipwrecks brought the black rats ashore, and the Shiants are now their greatest British stronghold.
Their numbers fluctuate wildly each year, maybe 3,500 during the winter when there is nothing much for them to eat, perhaps ten times that by the end of their fast-breeding summer.
Inevitably they are drawn to all the delicious food we bring with us.
To guard against them, the door of the house cannot be left open after dark and no food can stay out of the cupboards. You hear them skittering over the tin roof at night looking for ways in.
One year, a rat gave birth to a litter of about 18 babies which we found bright eyed and cheeping in the basket of peat blocks by the fire. The babies all went in the sea.
Humble heritage: The Nicolson family enjoy the outdoors by the two-roomed bothy, built originally for shepherds in the 1870s
At one with nature: Clouds swirl above Rough Island as Adam sorts ropes after a camping trip
And I have woken there in the past to find a rat staring at me, about 18 inches away, wondering, I think, what I was doing in his house. He and his ancestors had been there since the 18th century; I had just arrived for a holiday.
I shooed him away in my most proprietorial manner but he went on looking at me curiously like an anthropologist confronted with a strange new lifeform. Eventually, he wandered away to a hole in the panelling next to the fire.
The most disastrous of all my family’s expeditions to the Shiants was in 1946. My father, Nigel, a young London publisher, was not the most practical of men. He had bought the Shiants in 1937 as an act of pure romance when he was 20, for £1,400 — money his grandmother had left him.
On visits there he suffered all manner of catastrophes: the collapsible canoe that did indeed collapse when he was trying to paddle it one stormy day between the islands; he arrived once for a month and forgot to bring any matches with him.
Another time he took a dog for companionship, forgot to pack any dog food, shared his own food with the dog, ran out of it and decided he had to kill a sheep to survive.
Man makes fire: Adam says the lack of cosiness is not eased by the rats, wich were brought ashore by shipwrecks
Family heirloom: Adam was given the islands by his father when he was 21 and he has now passed them on to his eldest son, Tom
He did manage to catch the sheep but couldn’t bring himself to cut its throat. The only answer was a rope round its neck, the other end around a rock and, for the poor sheep, a good shove off a cliff. Dog and man then happily ate their way through hanged sheep for the rest of the month.
That was bad, but the 1946 expedition plumbed new depths. My father had met two exceptionally smart young women at a London party.
Both Lady Elizabeth Lambart and Margaret Elphinstone were going to be bridesmaids at the wedding of Princess Elizabeth, as the Queen was then known, the following year. Margaret was the bride’s first cousin.
Nigel — you have to wonder why — thought they might like to spend a night exposed to the delights of the Shiants. He arrived a week before them to tidy up. The weather was appalling.
‘I found the house in quite a good state,’ he wrote in his diary. ‘There are a lot of holes, some made by the rats and some by the weather. You can see right through the ceiling and roof in the other room and the door is off its hinges. The stove has rusted to bits and has been thrown outside.’
He scrubbed and painted, but despite plugging the holes as best he could, he still couldn’t keep out the rats.
Happy: Adam says his family loves a place of such hostility and discomfort because it is 'a world full of marvels'
He had also forgotten to bring a tin opener and had to open cans of soup with an axe, which wrecked both axe and soup. Then the fresh meat, bacon and eggs started to go off. He was left with potatoes, oatmeal and bread to feed the girls.
His rat poisoning campaign was working but a terrible anxiety gripped him: what if the rats died in the house? These ladies would never have been exposed to such smells.
They arrived. Nigel was in a state of heightened anxiety. But the sun shone and in the daylight he showed them the sights. For supper, they dined on oatmeal, bread and potatoes. At midnight, they went to bed, the two girls in one room of the house, Nigel in the other.
At half-past three, he woke to hear them screeching. A rat had got inside the chest of drawers he had installed for their change of clothes in the morning. It was running up and down the nearly empty drawers like a tap-dancer in paradise.
Nigel asked through the door — this was the Forties and he was shy — if he could do anything to help. ‘No, no!’ they shrieked. ‘If you let it out, it’ll run all over us.’ They spent the rest of the night shaking under the blankets, Nigel staring at the ceiling next door.
The calamity was not yet over. The wind had got up in the night and the tides were high.
Nigel, in his anxiety, had forgotten to tie the dinghy to the mooring ring on the beach and it had been swept away and smashed on the island cliffs.
Stunning surroundings: This clamorous and dazzling concentration of bird life is set in an epic landscape that includes 500-foot-tall columnar cliffs with deep pink sea caves at their feet
When the fishing boat arrived to pick the girls up, there was no way of reaching it from the shore.
Nigel entered the freezing waters of the Minch and returned with a rope. Elizabeth and Margaret stood waiting in their floral prints. Nigel tied them to the rope, one by one, and they swam out towards the herring drifter, speechless with cold, while their skirts spread like doilies around them. Or so my father told me.
Neither, he had heard, ever came to the Hebrides again.
I can’t blame my father for getting it so wrong. We have had our share of disasters there too: boats swept away in a high wind; capsizing on the far side of one island which meant a long, cold and dangerous swim home; people slipping on rocks, broken limbs, coastguard helicopters. Why, you might wonder, should a family love a place of such difficulty, hostility and discomfort?
The answer is that these islands are a world full of marvels. Hundreds of thousands of seabirds come to breed there every year, puffins and razorbills and guillemots making their nests in the giant screes and the big grassy slopes that run down to the sea.
This clamorous and dazzling concentration of bird life is set in an epic landscape that includes 500-foot-tall columnar cliffs with deep pink sea caves at their feet, whales and dolphins abounding in the sea around them, the whole of the Outer Hebrides and the mountains of the west coast of Scotland arranged like a frieze around their horizons.
Taking it all in: Adam looks out to sea as he relaxes with his dog Colonel
And it is fertile country. Those seas are full of giant pollock, scallops, lobsters and big edible brown crabs. Every year we lower our creels (lobster traps) into the favourite, secret spots and haul these delicious monsters from the deep, as gripping a pleasure for me now as it was when I first did it 45 years ago with my father.
My five children have been going there since they were conscious of life — the youngest spent a couple of weeks on the islands when she was three months old, when they were tiny my three sons happily played for hours in the rockpools.
Between us, we have a common set of references to this astonishingly powerful, shared world.
That is what I treasure most: that I can talk to them all about the suck and draw of a big sea on the storm beach; the tender and delicate process of gathering water from the well, which feels like something people did in the Stone Age; that sheltered feeling around the fire after a day out in the howling exposure of the islands; the mysterious creaks and whistles coming from the bird colonies on warm, still, moonlit summer nights when the sea lies around the islands like a pool of oil.
All that sense of connectedness I shared with my father who gave me the islands when I was 21, 35 years ago — just as I have now given them to my eldest son, Tom.
That connectedness stretches beyond the family to the hundreds of people who have stayed and worked there. We have a website now for them where anyone who fancies it — who can face it — can book to stay there for a week for free.
Those who do usually end up entranced, their lives permanently enlarged by the experience of a tiny fragment of the world where reality is encountered so starkly. That is one reason we have never made it more elaborate: this is island life, which exposes you to the deepest possible experience of being alive.
One of the most prestigious properties in the Bahamas has nothing to do with the beachfront villa, but everything to do with a great big hole.Dean's Blue Hole is one of the top 77 Natural Wonders of the World and it is up for sale with the asking price of $24million. The hole is the deepest hole known to man as it goes 633 feet below ground and has been the training ground for the extreme divers.
Natural wonder: Dean's Blue Hole is the deepest hole known to man as it goes 633 feet below ground and has been the training ground for the extreme divers
Scary: Many people have died trying to dive into the deep, particularly those who have no training in free diving
Diving in: No living person has come close to going down to the bottom of the 633-foot hole. Now the 46-acres of Blue Hole Bay along with the 134 acres of land immediately surrounding it are for sale to the highest bidder, though they will have to have wallets will have to have a similar depth to their new hole. 'This slice of paradise is one of, if not the, definitive trophy parcels of the Caribbean, fit for the dreamer who wants to make their own personal idea of pure bliss come to life,' realtors write on the property listing on The Agency.
Natural beauty: The area appears effectively untouched
Up to the owner: There is no home on the land yet but it would be the owner's decision what to do
Beautiful: The dark blue of the hole provides a sharp contrast to the lighter blue surrounding. 'It is for the person who wants to own a Natural Wonder of the world, and for those that choose to indulge in only the best of the best, without exception.' The bay is located on Long Island in the Bahamas, and though the blue waters and white beaches are breathtaking, they do not play host to the millionaires who frequent the beautiful country.
Up for sale: 46-acres of Blue Hole Bay along with the 134 acres of land immediately surrounding it are on sale
Low-key tourist spot: Though this area on Long Island is one of the more remote destinations in the Bahamas, it still draws some adventure seekers. While the area may not be popular with the jet set, it is a hot spot for extreme athletes- particularly free divers who specialize in swimming down to nerve-wracking depths without any equipment. One such diver is William Trubridge who set the world record when he dove down 331 feet in only one breath.
Record breaker: William Trubridge set the world record when he dove down 331 feet in only one breath
From below: The hole is circular in shape, adding to the mystery
Little help: No real equipment helps the freedivers, only one lone rope. He lived near the site for a year to practice and develop a method that would allow him to achieve the feat. Though it was a mecca of sorts for him, the hole inspires fear in many of the locals. Just days after a CBS crew went to the hold to film a recent 60 Minutes special about freediving in the area, a teenager died when he tried diving into the hole. His body was never found.
Pirates of the Cambridge countryside: Millionaire creates 60-acre treasure island with its own beach and ruined buildings
What do you buy the pirate-loving multimillionaire who has everything? Their own Caribbean oasis of course. Except this 60-acre island paradise is more than 4,500miles away from the traditionally pirate-infested waters surrounding the Bahamas. It is nestled in the middle of the English countryside in Cambridgeshire, where the island has been built from scratch in a lake on a private estate.
Paradise: Challis Island was built on a private estate in Cambridgeshire and includes a private beach, stream and lagoon
Plenty of grog: The island comes complete with its own pub The Black Dubloon
Pieces of eight: The island was commissioned by a young multimillionaire with a penchant for pirates. Pirate wonderland in the heart of England... Challis Island!
Challis Island was built for a wealthy landowner who 'loves all things pirate'. He is under 40 but wants to keep his identity private. The pirate paradise includes a fully-working pub The Black Dubloon, a guest house dubbed Coffer's Cabin, a beach hut and a sun deck for Caribbean barbecues, which will be used by the owner and his guests. All the buildings were made from wooden oak and Douglas fir frames, with roofs made from cedar tiles or thatch for authenticity.
Buried treasure: The island is hidden away on a private estate where it will be used by the owner and his guests
Historical: The buildings are designed to look like authentic 18th-century constructions
Ramshackle: Although the buildings look like they are about to fall down, they were handbuilt to a custom design
Detailed: The island was built to an exact specification by specialist company The Master Wishmakers
Palatial: The island comes with a guesthouse called The Coffer's Cabin containing a 'pirate bed'
Fantasy: The island comes complete with its own beach and beach hut as well as a lagoon and waterfall
Life's a beach: The wealthy owner of the island was inspired by his 'love of all things pirate'. The island was built to a height of 3m out of the lake from scratch, and includes landscape features such as a beach, stream, lagoon and waterfall. It was hand-built by The Master Wishmakers, who specialise in making wealthy clients' dreams come true without using 'plastic imitation theme park trickery'. A spokesman said: 'We pride ourselves on our attention to detail and this is why we have worked with only the best scenic artists to add those final touches that really make Challis Island the most spectacular pirate adventure since the 18th Century.'
Entertaining space: The deck provides plenty of room for barbecues and dancing
Quirky: The island is an unusual use of the lake on the Cambridgeshire estate