About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

A Five Chough Day

Up at 4am and off to Rhossili for the day as the sun rose in my side mirrors. We arrived at 6.45 am and, perhaps predictably, we had the whole place to ourselves, at least to start with.

My marriage was bookended by visits to this beach at the westernmost tip of the Gower. The first visit, in 1985, was a literal washout. We arrived, couldn't see the sand for rain, had an ice cream and drove back to Cardiff. 

The second visit, just four months before it ended, was positive for reasons that would sustain me during the hard times ahead, as I walked and walked with my friend, Jill. 

We walked the high downs behind the beach. We climbed Worm's Head. We discussed the loneliness of motherhood, the difficulty of keeping a sense of self. I went home with a sequence of poems in my pocket. 

There was no climbing of Worm's Head today - for one thing the tide was coming in; for another, been there, done that, no need to do it again even if I still could (which I almost certainly can't). But I was there with my new life and it was beautiful.

Ted has spotted rabbits

As if to underline the turn in my fortunes, my attention was grabbed by two birds having a bit of a squabble, their yelps definitely corvine but slightly more musical than their cousins'. 


We descended to the empty beach ...

... which was now emerging from the shadows. 

First stop, the wreck of the Helvetia, a Norwegian barque which became stranded on the sands of Rhossili bay during a storm in 1887 - a story which has many parallels with that of the SS Nornen on Berrow sands in Somerset. 

There were choughs there too: a parent bird, by the looks of it, and a couple of younglings. What a treat. 

We were headed for Burry Holms, the tidal island three miles distant at the far end of the bay ...

... though it looked like it might take us a while to get there. 

Up by the dunes there were herring gulls, kittiwakes, plovers and oystercatchers. 

The lack of rain had coloured the island beautifully.

We'd planned to go out on it for a bit but the tide was further in than we'd expected and we would be in danger of getting cut off if we did.

We decided to explore the dunes instead.

Looking towards Burry Port and Laugharne

Ankle-high brambles indicate how harsh the climate is here. I especially loved the harebells and sea holly. 

Discarded razor shells

Back at our starting point, the tide had reached the wreck of the Helvetia ...

... and it looked more like a prehistoric monster than ever. 

The climb up the steep cliff path from the beach proved just about as much we could handle post walk and in hot August sun. We revived with a cold drink and a Magnum, and vowed to come back again before too long.

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