When I arrived on the island in January 2009, I was made so welcome by the lovely community of islanders we have here on St. Martins. I first met Anna when she invited me to join a local yoga class. Thirteen years later, Anna and I still practice yoga together as well as swimming together year-round- Anna is my motivation to get in the sea on those cold, winter mornings!

I am really excited to share with you this conversation with Anna. Anna’s sense of calm, and can-do attitude, is admired and appreciated across the islands! Anna helps visitors to the islands create their own adventures at sea, with minimal impact on our beautiful environment, through her paddleboard and kayak hire business, St. Martins Watersports. Anna also has a vital role working for South West Water as a Water Quality Scientist, monitoring the drinking water quality on the islands.

Anna, when did your passion for water (drinking it and being in it!) begin?

I’ve always loved being in and on the water.  Apparently, I was taught to swim when I was four so I can’t really remember ever not being able to enjoy being in the water.  When I was at primary school we were taken to a local reservoir and told about the water treatment process.  It’s always fascinated me and I love being part of the process of ensuring that people have safe drinking water.

And how did you come to live on the Isles of Scilly?

I first came to Scilly on a diving holiday in 1990 and fell in love with St Martin’s.  After coming out on as many dive trips as I could blag my way onto, I moved here in 1998.  I worked at the then Dive School, teaching people to scuba dive and running seal snorkelling trips.  I set up St Martin’s Watersports in 2018.

Working from the beach (hiring kayaks and paddle boards) sounds like a dream job to so many people! What does a day running St Martins Watersports look like for you?

 I do have the best office view in the world!  Typically, I head down to the beach around 8.30am to set up the hires for the day, getting out our mobile desk and if it’s sunny putting up our beach umbrella.  I love meeting our customers, helping them plan their paddling adventure and then hearing about their experiences when they return.  At the end of the day, I pack away the equipment, check the weather forecast, write up the hires for the next day, catch up on admin and finish around 6pm. 

When you aren’t working, I know (being very lucky to have you as a swim partner) that you love being in the water. How do you think swimming helps your well-being?

I love our swims together especially the sunrise ones!  Swimming is like hitting the factory reset button, even if you don’t feel like going, you never regret a swim.  For me, it washes away the stresses of the day and makes me feel calm and grounded.

Having two jobs, being on island committees and a busy social life, how do you preserve your own energy? Are there any daily practices you find help you maintain a sense of calm, particularly when life is busy?

Life can be full on at times, especially in the summer.  Luckily, I’m a morning person and that gives me time to set my day up right. I spend 10-15 minutes outside first thing (in the summer watering the greenhouse and hanging baskets), I have a daily journalling practice which I find incredibly helpful.  I try and make time for a quick yoga session (with the wonderful Emily Ruth Williams yoga archive) or have a swim depending on what the rest of my day looks like.  It’s hard sometimes finding time for all this but I always feel so much worse if I don’t!

Finally, do you have a favourite Phoenix & Providence product?

Ah that’s such a tricky question as I love them all!  But if I had to choose it would be the Nourish Body Oil.  I love the fragrance and when I use it after showering it makes my skin feel so soft.

Thank you so much for your time, Anna. If you are visiting the islands and are interested in heading out for an adventure at sea, you can find out more about St. Martin’s Watersports here.
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