Sunday book review – Island to Island by Sally Mills

This is an account of an almost 2-year stint wardening the nature reserve on Aride Island in the Seychelles. Idyllic tropical paradise or small island community with plenty of difficult characters to navigate? Or both?

Sally Mills worked for the RSPB in Somerset and, with her partner, she took the opportunity to see the sand, sea, sun and spectacular seabirds of the Seychelles. But as many have found in similar roles, getting away from it all on a wildlife reserve doesn’t get you away from it all, at all. Yes, you are living close to wonderful wildlife, but that also means you are living on the job. And your workmates on islands, or any remote locations, may sometimes seem to have a high proportion of human jetsam who regard you, almost inevitably, as an incomer who has to prove themself.

I’d recommend this book to anyone thinking of taking a job in a remote community. After all, all happy islands are alike and unhappy islands aren’t necessarily unhappy in different ways.  The author is very frank about the challenges of being a manager in a remote location, and there is much to be learned from how she coped with all the difficulties.  But I recommend this book on many levels. Aride is a fantastic place (for a start, it has Roseate Terns) and the tales of the wildlife are fascinating. This is a very important seabird colony with frigatebirds, tropicbirds, shearwaters and terns and is set in a tropical sea with cetaceans, corals and hundreds of fish species.  The Seychelles Magpie Robin is the subject of a long-running conservation project and the insights into that are worth reading.

The cover? Gives a good impression of where we might be heading; ‘She picked sea-shells on the Seychelles sea shore’.  I’d give it 7/10.

Island to Island: from Somerset to Seychelles by Sally Mills is published by Cranthorpe Millner.