Susan Smillie has spent the past three years living on her beloved sailing boat. But when the lockdown hit, she built a den from flotsam – and started living as a castaway

I am lying on my back in the den I made, my book perched like a little tent on my stomach. I stare at my bamboo roof and listen to a tapping sound – a carpenter bee nesting inside one of the canes, I decide. I’ve been lost in thought, and realise it’s late in the day – the last hour before the sun dips into the sea. There’s that soft quality of light, beaming through the gaps, painting everything in crazy stripes of gold and shade. The water has turned from jade to olive, as the light bounces off the posidonia beds beneath.

No one overlooks me – I’m hidden from view by vertiginous cliffs, slate and burnt orange; lush greenery, studded with berries and flowers. It is empty, this cove, which is why I’ve made myself a tiny home at one end of it. I always mean to come for a short time, and end up staying all day. The hours drift by. Time passes companionably, despite my being alone. Maybe it’s the familiarity of the shipping forecast playing from the radio on the shelf, the books like friends lined up alongside. It’s all of it… the sounds, the shelf, the bamboo roof. It’s the beauty of the natural setting, but it’s also that I’ve made it.

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