The man who lives alone on an island

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An old saying goes: “No man is an island”, but in the case of Simon Parker, you might just disagree.

After the death of a close friend, the ex-Royal Air Force aircraft engineer needed a change.

Little did he know it would lead to him being a warden on one of Britain’s most remote islands, Flat Holm, and, inadvertently, the landlord of its only pub.

“It is an offer I couldn’t pass up,” he said.

Four miles off the coast of Cardiff, in the middle of the Bristol Channel, Flat Holm Island has no mains power or water and is exposed to the worst of the weather.

As a warden, the 38-year-old works to help preserve the island but also lends his hand to being a handyman, barman and occasional tour guide.

He spends his days birdwatching and preparing the island for the different seasons.

The former Red Arrows avionics engineer said the opportunity came at a good time.

Simon Parker

Simon says the island has helped him through difficult times

It was the death of his friend that pushed Simon to make a change.

“I had bad couple of years. I went through a rough patch where I did struggle and I lost myself.

“I was searching for somewhere that felt like home when, really, it wasn’t a place as such, loss was inside and I needed to find that again.”

He added that the change had been “rewarding and so beautiful”.

‘I am a filthy islander’

Since the Dark Ages, Flat Holm has been a retreat for monks and has also acted as a sanctuary for Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, silver miners, smugglers and cholera victims.

Fortified in Victorian times and again in World War Two, it is famous for its role in the invention of radio, as well as being home to unique lizards, flowers and birds.

It is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its gull colony, which makes up 20% of the Welsh population.

For Simon, who has lived on the island since March, it has become a way of life: “I’m no longer a filthy mainlander, I am a filthy islander.

“Not many people get to say they live somewhere as cool as this. I’m kind of on my own so there is some apprehension there but I just love challenges.”

While Simon is sometimes joined by tourists and volunteers helping with preservation and gull ringing, it is usually just him.

He said the view from his farm house, was “pretty good if you like gulls” and the pints at the Gull and Leek, Wales’ most southerly pub,”taste better than on the mainland”.

Flat Holm

Flat Holm is just four miles away from Cardiff, but can “feel like a million” says Simon

After six months, Simon has learnt a lot about the island and its wildlife and, perhaps more importantly, something about himself too.

“Being able to walk out my front door and be met with all this noise from the birds gives me boost.

“I know for my own personal wellbeing I need time in nature.

“I’ve always loved being in remote places, although I’m only four miles from Cardiff, sometimes it can seem like a million.”

He said the island was “all or nothing” and urged others to make the jump as well.

“Life is short so I put out to anyone thinking of doing something like this – just to do it,” he said.

“Feed your inner child and you might end up a place like this.”

A big part of Simon’s role is preservation, using the land and the rainwater to keep the island going.

“On the mainland we just take everything for granted. If you need food you just go to the shop. If you need water, you just turn on a tap.

“Living on an island the sustainability of all this is quite tricky. For me, Flat Holm is kind of like microcosm for how I look at the world.

“We have to move away from this idea that we have an infinite number of resources, it is just not sustainable.

“We can do it, its not impossible and there solutions are all there, if there is a will to change.”

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#man #lives #island

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