I have very fond memories of the Isle of Wight. As a family we holidayed there for many years, staying in the grounds of an old mansion in the south, literally on the edge of a cliff. A great fan of Enid Blyton at the time 'Southview' was our own mysterious playground, the walk down the cliff to the beach an exciting adventure and perched on rocks when the tide came in a fun few hours caused by foolish (or rather foolhardy) parents. The Isle of Wight continues to enchant me, a few years ago a friend and I walked around its circumference, it is a manageable place, inviting yet old fashioned, its coast stunning, its attractions (including coloured sands) quite twee. A mixture of what's good about life in miniature.
Palestine, visited last year, is quite different. It's desert beauty rough rather than lush, it's beauty, to be capture in rare moments of quiet, lost in bustle and busyness. The powerless have very little as olive groves are destroyed and water is scarce because of occupation. I have never been to Gaza, but the stories of life there are not attractive. They reveal a struggling existence for those who live there, where the provision of health care, education and welfare is hampered by embargoes and checkpoints. There are romantic tales in the Isle of Wight about smugglers of old, in Gaza people smuggle essential goods to enable them to live.
The current population of the Isle of wight is around 124,000. The current population of Gaza is 1.5 million. We can easily come and go to and from the Isle of Wight, people are locked in Gaza. Symbolically, due to past experiences, the Isle of Wight is the one place in the world that for me represents freedom, freedom from the cares of the world, from anxiety, from the things that get us down. I pray that the people of Gaza will one day experience that freedom too.