Kay Stewart at St Mary's

Postcard from St Mary’s Island

Sometime’s it’s just so easy to love what I do!

St Mary's LighthouseEspecially on a bright crisp January morning arriving on the coast at Whitley Bay to walk across the causeway to St Mary’s Lighthouse to the sound of oyster catchers. I take a few photos as I go, quickly putting my gloves back on after each shot to avoid the keen biting wind on bare flesh.

I arrive early and decide to keep moving and keep warm. I take a walk around the island and feel giddy as I stand at the base of the lighthouse and my head cranes up to see the bright white against brilliant blue sky.

View from St Mary's Visitor CentreAdam, the visitor centre Manager arrives, and lets me in. We go up a flight of stairs to the conference room. I welcome the warmth and the views from its windows are amazing.

You look out from one across the rocks to the rolling North Sea and from the other, northwards along the coast.

I arrange the room get the water boiler on for hot drinks and soon the Elementary Writers arrive together with photographer Stuart Boulton. Before settling down to record we take some publicity shots back down the causeway with the lighthouse as backdrop.

Elementary Writers at St Mary's

‘Try not to look cold!’ I jest, ‘These photos might be going out later in the year’.

Someone proposes we should abandon coats and strip down to T-Shirts.   That suggestion is not taken up.

Recording Harry inside St Mary's LighthouseBack in the Conference room, hot drinks all round, we start to record. For the past few months Elementary Writers, who meet in Di Meo’s Delaval Ices cafe in Whitley Bay and are led by Victoria Watson, have been working on pieces inspired by Whitley Bay and St Mary’s Island and Lighthouse.   Each writer has produced their own very individual interpretation drawn from personal experience, local history and local culture.


Harry has even written a poem St Mary of The Lighthouse since his arrival. I feel privileged to record everyone; they have obviously practised reading which makes the recording even better!

We have a tidal window to be on and off the island. ‘It’s a wrap’ and I pack my recording equipment away.

As I walk back over the causeway, the sun is fading and I reflect on how much I love what I do.

I am looking forward to editing and bringing these audio recordings to you in the spring via listenupnorth as part of the Culture Bites @ North Tyneside Podcast Project sponsored by North Tyneside Council and Arts Council England. Thanks to St Mary’s Island Manager Adam Kelsey for all his support.