Patrick Barkham is a shrewd observer of island life
Author of Islander less interested in romanticism and more concerned with future of communities
Island life: islands are linked by planes and the internet in Patrick Barkham’s unromanticised vision.
Islander - a journey around our archipelago
The world’s shortest scheduled flight, from the small Orkney island of Westray to the smaller island of Papa Westray, lasts just two minutes. In Islander: A Journey Around our Archipelago, author and Guardian natural history writer Patrick Barkham visits 12 islands around Britain. His journey to discover “the essence of what it is to be an islander” is all small planes and rough crossings, beaten up Peugeots and tiny Suzukis. He starts on the Isle of Man (population 85,000) and travels to progressively smaller islands before ending up on Ray in Essex (population 0). The internet emerges as a lifeline for many smaller islands but the real barometer of island life is the school. Rathlin Island, off Antrim, with nine pupils is thriving. Barkham is an informative and highly entertaining traveller. He approaches these islands as an outsider eager to discover their natural as well as social histories. But he is also a shrewd observer, less interested in idealised romanticism and more concerned with the future of island communities.