Rolling

It is the last day of March, but it might just as easily be April Fool’s Day.  We leave the house in weather that is sunny and dry.  A five minute Metro ride later and the sky has darkened, gushing hail and snow.  It’s a short dash to the beach, where we take refuge under the canopy of the old watch house at the top of the cliffs.  Built in the 1800s for the life brigade to watch out for vessels in distress, it is an eccentric stone building with a clocktower and a tiled roof that curves downwards like a heavy brow.  We sit on an old bench, gazing out over a wild seascape as the life brigade volunteers would once have done.

A heavy black cloud above the horizon compresses the land.  The RNLI flag snaps and flutters in the wind.  A veil of sleet billows across the sand.  The sea is a dark grey doily edged in boiling white.  Waves spill onto the sand between the piers as the tide advances.  The beach is glassy wet and pimpled with worm casts.  Gulls gather at the edge of the tide.

A pair of women in wetsuits and bright swimming caps brave the water.  They whoop and yell.  The beach isn’t passable now, the tide has come in as far as the caves, cutting the sand in two.  Waves wash over the piers leaving foamy puddles.  Beyond, at Tynemouth, the waves leap the defences and form white clouds above the water.

We walk the steep bank down to the bay.  Sometimes the hail and sleet return, sometimes the wind whips the sand into a frenzy.  But I throw the ball for Winston and he retrieves it, oblivious to the storm.  We’re alone on the sand.  There is just us and those hollering women in the water, shouting with abandon.  We are in a cold, windswept and exhilarating bubble.

As we walk back up the bank, the women return to land.  They wrap themselves in towels and drink from flasks.  We share a smile as I walk past.  I had come to the sea expecting comfort and contemplation, but instead I got motion and energy, something I probably needed much more.

A month later I return to the sea.  The sky is pale blue and jostling with fluffy cloud.  An indigo stripe marks the horizon.  Large, slow waves roll in like a lullaby.  Sunlight catches the offshore turbines and the lighthouse.  The lifeboat chugs towards the river, funnelling water behind it.  A long dredger is moored down the coast. 

Today we are with a friend on her first break since the pandemic began.  We treat her to fish and chips and play two pence games in the amusements.  Before and after, we walk along the promenade, mesmerised by the incoming tide, listening to its song as it washes away any vestige of pandemic fear.  Today I had expected nothing from the sea but beauty, but instead it restores us, bringing renewal just in time for spring.

57 thoughts on “Rolling

  1. As usual your descriptive prose makes me pause in praise of your unique talent. I was on this walk with you. Nature does often surprise us and so the sea was her conduit to restoration and renewal for you…and me.

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  2. Are those wind turbines off-shore? I wonder why we don’t do that in the States? Our coast is always windy. Seems like such a simple solution for power. I suspect some environmental group is providing a roadblock to that idea. Oh well! Your weather is quite similar to ours. It was shirtsleeve weather yesterday; today it was 43 F and pouring rain.

    Summer where are ye?

    Lovely writing, as always!

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  3. Hi Andrea,just like to say I still follow your writing .I think it always just reminds me of home.I. Loved the photographs of Tyne mouth and the bay please include more ,cheers!, john

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  4. I have only come to appreciate the sea and the atmosphere it engenders since moving close to the coast and seeing it more regularly. Beautifully captured, Andrea. I wonder which mood I will experience when I’m staring at the sea this afternoon 😊

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  5. Lovely post. As usual, your poetic words bring so much thought to my mind. First thought was that you could bring Winston on the Metro with you. Can’t do that here. Then the eerie gloom of a storm coupled with historical references shot me back in time. And in the end, how you discovered that the Universe gave you want you needed instead of what you had originally wanted.

    We’ve had a very cold spring here. Only had one sunny, warm day so far, but next week it’s forecast to skip spring and enter summer! Have a nice weekend, Andrea.

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  6. Weather can surprise us – what can sometimes seem dark and dreary can really be beautiful and restorative. The photos of the stormy beach and sunny later view are wonderful. Glad they were just what you needed.

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  7. It has been again a great pleasure to read about your immediate perception of nature, raw and pure as if I have been there myself.
    It reminded me about the times when I used to live near the ocean and swan through the bay throughout the year, defying all weather conditions. Oh, those memories!

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  8. You are brave to face the beach with the cold, but sometimes the cold days are the best. I marvel at how you can describe the sea in unusual ways and make me go back and read again to savor the words. As you said the sea can bring us just what we need in unexpected ways.

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  9. Hello, Andrea. Reach over your left shoulder with your right hand and give yourself a big pat on the back. You deserve it. It’s three o’clock now and I’m waiting for the dawn chorus to begin. This my me and nature time, a sort of portal into another world that allows me a sneak peek of life on another level; like looking through a door that is left ajar. The dawn chorus is familiar to me, I feel at ease there amongst it, in control. The Sea on the other hand is, despite our claim to be a nation of seafarers, unpredictable, uncontrollable, even alien to the likes of me. Your wonderful post as got me rubbing my chin, debating whether it is us, or what we are observing that determines our thoughts and emotions. Anyway, Andrea, time moves on, and the first notes of the day will soon be released into the fresh morning air. My only distraction will be the thought of Bacon Butty with dip and brown sauce, and a nice cup of Rosey Lee. Take care, Andrea. Thanks again.

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    • Hi Mick, I haven’t been online much this year and just realised I never replied to this comment. I hope you’re well and that you’ve been settling into the new homestead. I’m slowly getting back to reading blogs and maybe I’ll write one sometime soon!

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      • Hello, Andrea; it’s grand to hear from you. I’ve not been doing a great deal either, all my effort as being put into teaching myself to speak Welsh, looking after the Birds, Horses, and our Jack. Everything is calm, relaxed, and Dan reolaeth (under control.) And that also includes my weight. After 11 years in a Wheelchair, I had ballooned to a piggy 129 kgs, and Megan, my Sister, had started to call me Billy Bunter. You’ll be glad to hear, that 12 months after our fresh New Start, I have dropped 22 kgs, and I feel better for it. To look like a Greek God was setting my goal a bit high, so, I’m settling for Racing Snake.
        We are all looking forward to joining you and Winston on one of your walks, Andrea. As soon as the wind turns Easterly, we should see an influx of Waxwings.
        Wrap up warm, and keep well.
        Bye for now.

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      • I’m very glad to hear that everything is good with you and that you’ve settled in well to the new home. It obviously agrees with you. Well done on getting fitter, you’ve done really well – giving up smoking and working from home made me pile on the pounds, and this last year hasn’t done much good with some knee problems on and off, but hopefully I can take some inspiration from you and get it under control 🙂 Hope you had a good Christmas and wishing you all the best for the year to come.

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  10. Excellent contrasts – a monochrome day, then one much brighter. Though I’m surrounded by sea these days I recall years ago when the annual trip to Blackpool was a huge event, with the sea defining it.

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  11. A beautiful write, Andrea. The ocean has captured my heart since I was but a babe. Loved every minute of it on the coast of Southern CA. But those times are but memories that stay with me still. You have brought every minute of this to life and your photos tie it all together.

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  12. Your lovely post brought back wonderful memories of Brighton Pier, Andrea! The ocean has been a balm lately despite variable weather but today the sun is out in all its glory…I hope there are many more trips to the sea in your future…

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  13. Your writing is so descriptive and beautiful, Andrea. Such a joy to read and feel as if I am there by the water with you. You open with a scene that describes my transition into autumn here in Czech, one day it was sunny, warm, and dry and then I woke up to cold, rain, and wind ~ a different environment and thus a different mood; an unexpected shift in mood, and I am not disappointed with this either 🙂 The change of a season is always a bit refreshing, and it is a feeling that is good for the soul as well. Thank you.

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