Funnily enough, puffins have become one of the most requested designs to be painted on my buttons over the last few months – I’ve posted out four in the last fortnight. I’m always happy to receive a puffin commission though, because I never get tired of studying and painting their detailed, comical faces, their stripy beaks, and their soulful eyes.
I had never actually met a puffin in the flesh, though I had always wanted to. When it was decided that a boat trip to Staffa, a tiny island off the west coast of Scotland was in order, I hoped that – with the help of binoculars, and if the weather held, and with a big dose of luck, I might be able to spot the odd puffin from a distance somewhere along the coastline. I had no idea I was going to be fortunate to get – together with dog in tow – four feet away from my favourite seabirds.
They are much smaller than I thought they would be, which only makes them all the more charming. I was able to sit with them, to crawl around on my knees taking photograph after photograph, along with other people dotted right along the cliff edge, and they pottered around, sometimes looking at us, but mostly chuckling to each other and quite merrily going about their business.
I fell utterly in love with these puffins, as I always suspected I might when the day came that I finally got to see some. I felt so lucky to meet them at such close proximity, and on a sunny day in a week of wet, too! I spent the whole boat trip back to the Isle of Mull with a big grin on my face, even though extra time with them had meant that I had sacrificed venturing inside Fingal’s Cave. I noticed that quite a few other passengers on our boat made the same choice, though!
When I could see how content and confident the puffins were, I kept hold of Bea’s harness and she was so good – she immediately lay flat to the ground and belly crawled closer, sitting right next to me. We got photographic evidence so she can tell all her friends how close she got to puffins, too!