Sunday, 30 April 2017

A Visit to Sidmouth

My parents love Sidmouth. So we went to Sidmouth. 

I love Sidmouth too - when the folk festival's on. The rest of the time it's staid and conservative. Not to mention Conservative. 

But the beach and the cliffs are great. I installed the parents in a shelter on the front with ice creams and a copy of the Daily Bigot and went for a wander. 
It was a lovely day for it. 

First, I headed for the cliffs at the easternmost end of town, on the grounds that I like them best. 

Here some of the sandstone rocks have green go-faster stripes. 
They reminded me of Ted a couple of years ago, during a spate of decorating.

Sidmouth's famous hanging gardens are still very much in evidence. 

In fact, I was shocked by how much of the cliff face has been lost since I was last here, just under four years ago. 

There are great holes visible in the sandstone now, and because the tide was high and it was hard to keep away from the cliffs, I decided not to hang about too long. 

As I was leaving, a woman with two children asked me if it was safe. I had to say no, I didn't think it was. 

After lunch - toilets 5 metres, France 87 miles (handy to know when life on Brexit Island gets beyond endurable) -  I deposited the parents on the esplanade again and forayed to the west.

Back at the cottage in Shaldon, I took stock of the day's treasure: (clockwise) a geode, a vug (which reminds me of my grandmother's treacle tart),  fossilised ferns and a fossilised sponge (or sausage roll).  Plus ten hag stones. All in all, a pretty good haul.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

New Moon at Shaldon

I'm in South Devon for the long weekend with the parents.  It feels a bit funny to be staying down here, now the Biscuit Tin by the Sea is consigned to history. I noticed last year that I see everything differently now my bolt hole is gone and I no longer take what's before my eyes for granted, and this phenomenon seems to be continuing.

Last night, after I'd driven the car to the car park, I walked back to the cottage where we're staying and noticed that I could see further along the coast than I'd ever managed before - past Golden Cap and all the way to Portland Bill. 

And the incoming tide was certainly one of the fastest I've seen in years. Due in part, I'm sure, to the new moon.  

This is the notorious Shaldon eddy, which forms a couple of hours before high tide. 

A little later, while the parents watched sports stuff on telly, I nipped outside the cottage onto the jetty to watch the tide turn. 

If anything can be sudden yet stately, it's a ship leaving port on the tide. They remind me of snails, with lit cities on their backs. 

Then I spotted the pilot boat on its way out through the estuary. Another ship on the move. This was the height of excitement for seven-year-old me, waiting for the wash to rush up the river beach. Nearly fifty years later, I still feel a thrill. 

For a while the two ships seemed to circle each other, as if they were about to engage in a sword fight or a somewhat predatory tango. 
Then, one after the other they peeled off and headed south, leaving the harbour empty.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Not out of the woods yet

Back to work tomorrow but we're not out of the woods yet. This was a brief detour through the Forest of Dean on the way to Gloucester

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Lighting Summer's Candles

My first whitethorn of 2017 - and oh that smell!

Our local woods are a good place to go for some restorative calm ...

... even though the crows were having a right old bicker in the trees at the top of the gorge.

There seemed to be more bluebells today than there used to be ...

... but no more than the usual proliferation of cow parsley. 

It hasn't rained much lately and the river bed is already quite dry but there was still enough water to please a mucky border collie. 

Further downstream we could see - and then smell - the ramsons ... 

... and early summer had already lit her candles.