The Grey Lady

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Brilliant Disguise.”

The houses are grey. The frequently visiting fog lies on the island like a grey blanket. When the ocean temperatures drop and cold winter winds move in the lush summer foliage disappears leaving everything a monotone grey. It’s pretty easy to see why the island is often called “The Grey Lady”.

During my fist visits to the island I was totally confused where anything was. How could you establish where you were when everything looks the same? Little by little I got my bearings – mainly through necessity as without a US driving licence I spent a lot of time on my bike. You tend to figure out the lay of the land when you’re looking for the shortest points from A to B on a hot and humid summer day. And now, when I hear tourists make similar observations about the likeness of everything, I think to myself, “Just wait and the island will reveal herself”.

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Nantucket is a vastly different place from America. Apart from the lack of traffic lights, McDonalds and shopping malls, the island prides itself on its historical and ecological preservation. Main Street is cobbled with stones allegedly carried as ballast by the earliest ships visiting the island. To explore the historical downtown area is to step back in time. Vast amounts of the island are undeveloped and remain covered in scrub brush making a haven for deer. Born in the English countryside and having lived in London, I am at home with both the rural and historical beauty of the island and it’s not at all difficult to see why the island receives so many accolades. Spend just a little time here and the island starts to reveal her many layers.

One of my favourite places on the island is Great Point. That’s Great Point Lighthouse in Great Point Nantucketthe picture at the top of the page and in the aerial photo to the right. To reach the lighthouse you drive approximately 3 miles on sand along the narrow spit of land at the northeastern most point of the island. It’s a stunningly beautiful spot and a fun place to fish in the summer – if you can beat the crowds of seals to anything biting on your line. And if you’re brave enough to face the bitter winds raging across the peninsula in the winter you’re likely to be rewarded with the sight of a majestic but ghostly white Snowy Owl. It’s incredible to think that anyone could ever live on this sandy spit. But they did, and you’ll pass houses which are still lived in (ok, mainly just in summer).

Access to the lighthouse is restricted in early summer owing to nesting “Piping Plovers” but otherwise, it’s a must see stop if you’re really trying to explore the island. The only thing grey on Great Point by the way is the colony of seals.

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Beach life

One of the biggest attractions on Nantucket is the beach. This is an island don’t forget so Nantucket has a fair number of sandy spots.

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Not being in a position to work here when I first arrived I dedicated much of my time to exploring the island – and that logically included a diligent study of the island’s shorelines. Water temperature in the summer is in the 60’s. For a girl who grew up in Bermuda this is a little chilly but when the sun is at its highest and the humidity is punishing, a fresh dip in the ocean offers instant relief.

The beaches on the North Shore tend to be calmer and are more gently sloping making them ideal spots for families with young children. The South Shore beaches on the other hand tend to be much rougher and the water gets deep very quickly. The South Shore is where you want to head if you’re looking to surf, while the harbour is better suited for SUP. Life guards are stationed around the island.

And surfing is pretty big out here. Almost every SUV you see in the summer will have a board on its roof rack.  I had a great first lesson with  Ack Surf out at Madequecham Beach my first summer. The other students were two teenage boys so they ended up with one instructor while I went out with the other – a private lesson for the group price! Interestingly these guys now appear to focus on apparel rather than lessons.

With a little assistance from the teacher I was able to catch a wave and even stand up once or twice. It was awesome and I’d love to try again but for one reason or another I’ve just never had the time. My husband recently purchased a couple of Stand Up Paddleboards and as soon as I’m given the all clear to bear weight again on the ankle I broke last month I’m absolutely going to be out on the water with it.

But as beautiful as the beaches are, swimmers have to be aware of possible rip tides. Breaking news this morning was a family caught in one. They were rescued by life guards and a mystery Good Samaritan.  Luckily they never dropped the Go Pro!

3, 2, 1…..LIFTOFF!

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You can read more about me on the next page of my blog but essentially I’m an English lady living on Nantucket – an island 30 miles out to sea from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. “ACK” is the airport code for Nantucket for anyone who may be wondering.

And what’s this blog all about? Essentially my life and adventures on this beautiful little island. Nantucket is a unique place and it has been quite a journey for me leaving my old life in Blighty and trying to start again out here. I’ve learnt a fair amount along the way and I thought it could be fun to share some of my experiences – particularly as people often ask what it’s like to live out here. I’ve set up my own small business in a totally unrelated field to what I used to do so maybe for someone looking to do the same my blog can offer a little support and encouragement. And above all, Nantucket has so much to offer and I love talking about the island and the goings on out here.