After a very early start last Saturday morning I have arrived! As we land on the magical island the dolphins are seen dancing in the sunlight and this jewel starts to unfold before me. Occupying just 4.5 square miles of the English Channel and with a population of 550, Sark will be my home for the next week as I prepare the islands for their first opera festival next weekend.
This gem is packed with natural beauty, wildlife and charm. You can walk, cycle or take a leisurely tour by horse and carriage. Sark is one of the few remaining places in the world where cars are banned and only the occasional tractors carrying agricultural goods might pass.
The walk from the harbour is a rather steep one and so for £1.50 you can join the majority and jump onto the ‘toast rack’ (a tractor and trailer) which drops you off in the centre of the Island. I collect my bike and head off to my digs where I manage to catch a few hours sleep before I’m due to go to the Son et Lumière.
The Son et Lumière tells the story of the Island from its beginning when the likes of Captain Jack Sparrow would have been very much at home. The story tells of how Elizabeth 1st granted Sark as a fief to Helier de Carteret (1563-1578). All very interesting that so much history has happened on such a small island.
The highlight of the evening for me was when all stopped and I finally realized why Sark is the world’s first “dark sky island”. The exceptional blackness of Sark’s night sky makes the Milky Way visible from one horizon to the other. I really couldn’t believe my eyes and the beauty that appeared in the velvet above me, I even saw a couple of shooting stars, but forgot to make a wish.
So back to the job in hand, an opera festival. Tuesday sees the first of my colleagues arriving from Singapore, then the rest start to sail in from all corners of the UK and further afield. Some truly amazing international singers will be joining me for an evening of your operatic favorites on Saturday in the village hall. I’m so excited we have a school workshop on the Magic Flute on Friday daytime plus a masterclass with one of the UK’s greatest Mezzo Sopranos Yvonne Howard on Friday evening.
I really do think that between the beauty of this Island, the romance of Puccini, the weather set for around 20c and stars shining, this is going to be one very special week.
This article was originally published in the Carmarthen Journal in Mark’s weekly column for the paper.