Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dunes out of reach


The imminent sale of the house by the sea means the beach may soon be further out of reach. And my favorite sand dune, Jockey's Ridge a mere name on a sign or an image in a brochure. If I let it recede.

I hope not because there have been places that have slipped out of my grasp. The wild coast of Northumbria which I promised to return to on the morning when I walked far out to sea in a fog bank, in the days when I could stumble for miles over rock pools - and  the sun tore the fog bank apart like a piece of parchment to reveal mile upon miles of dancing red rock.


(Dunstanburgh Castle - Terry Cavner)


I vowed to return but never did and when I finally do I may be unable to skip over rock pools. We leave the sea and recede into the bunkers of our minds lost in tiny houses behind yard and sheds,  until we are unable to imagine the vastness of the shore and the light that breaks over the dunes hurts our eyes.

Once in Wales at college after days of over drinking and over competing and deluding ourselves we would set the world on fire, we got in a car and headed to the sea. The freshness of the Gower Peninsula hurt, we wanted to find a dark nook in a low pub to hide in but we stuck it out on the beach, under moody skies and growling tides and slowly the place worked its magic, leaving us windswept and alive and uncynical for the first time in months.

And still those names are evocative - Rhossili with its endless sands and the little ruined castle at Oystermouth and the Mumbles, clinging to the skirt hems of Swansea described by Dylan Thomas as the "ugly, lovely town, crawling, sprawling, slummed, unplanned."


The Turkish restaurant near the ferry port on a night of interminable greyness on the edge of Swansea when only the lights of the oil refinery lit the way out of the shadows, had some dubious looking fare on its blood rimmed trays. Sheeps testicles said the man with the moustache and the large chopper, so I took a rain check and opted for hummus.

And there was no bed on the ferry, just a vibrating floor under the stairs, a snack machine and the smell of adventure and the brightly colored houses on the harbor front at Cobh waking up to the weak dawn.



It was strange to arrive in Cobh where so many others had departed from the hollow shell of Ireland, emaciated and dying, clutching a few belongings and the remnants of a dream that they might survive the voyage and see the New World. But it's where we all end up, landlocked and far away trapped between picket fences and the vanishing point where the corn field kisses the sky.

Still if you have ever woken up to the sound of sea gulls wheeling above the cliffs or heard the fog horns, you'll know you can only be away from the sea for so long.

8 comments:

  1. Love the ocean. I was born near it, and I must always live near it.

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    1. I know JoJo - could not be miles away myself

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  2. Wonderful pictures and descriptions to accompany them, David. It makes me want to see these places too. I love the many colored houses! So cheery and fun. :)

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    1. I know Daisy - love that about Ireland

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  3. So much sea yet to paddle in, so many beaches to explore. So little time. I was thinking of fog horns this morning and realised I haven't heard them for ages, I love the deep mournful tone reaching across the bay. I'm sure I have different dreams when there's fog ;)

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    1. 4sure Sue - probably not a great deal of fog in Oz

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  4. I'm surely living next to the sea when I grow up. I'm from a very dry land, and maybe coincidentally, I've been much happier when I lived next to the seaside; be it in Huelva or Scotland. They're very different kind of beaches, but beautiful and people seem more relaxed and kinder there. Of course, that's probably because they're used to foreigners.

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    1. I know Starla - Spain has some great coasts, though...

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