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I think the island of Flatholm is the most southerly place in Wales, lying as it does almost halfway across the Bristol Channel about three miles south of Lavernock Point.

It is part of the City of Cardiff and belongs to the city council, at least for now.

Flatholm rarely gets in the news. It was famous once because Guglielmo Marconi, Italian telegraphic engineering genius, chose to send the first-ever experimental radio transmission over water from Lavernock Point to Flatholm.

Now it's in the news again, because the sale of the island is one of the Cardiff council package of cuts for the coming financial year.

It's got a colony of highly intelligent seagulls who know when the black bin-bags are being put out in each town along the Bristol Channel coast.

They fly to Cardiff on Monday, Newport on Tuesday, Bristol on Wednesday, Barry on Thursday etc, etc. It's got a really strange frozen beach as well, where the rock formation reflects the little ridges made by waves on what was originally loose sand, but has now somehow gone literally rock-solid. They say it's the only one in the world.

I've got a soft spot for the island because 40-odd years ago, before our kids were of school age, Julie and I used to spend six months of the year in a caravan near Lavernock Point.

We used to look out at the ships in the Channel (far more of them then) and Flatholm and Steepholm every day. The only exception was if it was foggy.

Then Flatholm seemed closer.

The island seemed to come right into the caravan because of the booming of the foghorn. Indeed I plead guilty to trying to form a '60s folk group - Flatholm Lighthouse and the Foghorns.

The point of that name was that it wouldn't matter that we couldn't sing. I hope the council can find a partner that can keep the little ferry boat and the visits and camps for schoolkids going.

I know times are tough, but it is such a unique educational and environmental resource.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 9, 2013
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