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It isn’t often that two of my nature wishes come true in a single day, but as I stepped aboard the MS Oldenburg one perfect June day, I hoped they might. Puffins and cabbages – not on the same plate, you understand – but on the same island. We were heading for Lundy out in the Bristol Channel. The omens were good as dolphins led us across the sea. Now most people know about puffins, the seabirds with the engaging clownlike appearance, but who has heard of the Lundy cabbage? Well, I had.

As a teenager I would while away winter evenings poring over my wild flower book, memorising the pictures and entranced by names. The Lundy cabbage caught my eye. I had heard of Lundy – mainly as a sea area on the shipping forecast – but I was hazy as to its exact location. Lundy was somewhere Out There, storm-lashed, remote and dangerous, and some of this exoticism rubbed off on the plant that bore its name. What sort of island had its own cabbage? What sort of cabbage had its own island? My imagination worked overtime; surely this must be some sort of pirate cabbage. As so often, it was nearly half a century before I had the chance to see for myself.

As I stepped ashore on Lundy Island that day, I was prepared for a long hunt for my cabbage, or even not to find it at all. In fact, it rampaged all along the cliff path and took no finding at all. Now, I should come clean and admit that, as plants go, this one is nothing special to look at, and most people would dismiss it as an odd weed and walk straight past. But not me. I cupped its yellow flowers and held a bit of magic in my hands. The mysterious Lundy cabbage was in my very grasp. I took lots of photos.

Lundy Island itself is a delight, especially on such a fine, warm day, and later I stood on a verdant cliff-top and saw my first ever puffins. Other visitors lingered at the sea-bird colony, too, enjoying this natural spectacular – but I doubt if many of them felt, as I did, that the puffins had been upstaged by a cabbage patch. Such is the magic of a life spent observing nature.

My illustrated, magical, nature-inspired tales The Herbarium, The Chesil Apothecary and Dropwort Hall are available from www.veneficiapublications.com