... for Knots in the String...
(Just a little bit of office work before I begin: after this latest offering, I plan to post on Saturdays - hopefully, readers will get a chance to sit back with a coffee over the weekend, maybe a nice cookie, and read quietly…)
I have just recently, while husband has been tied up in his office space (aka the dining table in our tiny coastal cottage) binged Rick Stein’s Cornwall which I loved because it was Cornwall (a place on the edge of the sea where history and myth twine and drift up the cliffs like a sea mist). But also because Stein is a similar age to my husband and myself and has an enthusiasm for country and life to which we relate.
But chiefly, I loved the series because it was mostly about coast and coast is like life’s blood to me. Waves belting a coastline into submission, seabirds rising on updrafts, the sea stretching for miles into infinity, blue, grey, endless skies, seals, dolphins, driftwood, seaweed, shingle and sand.
I’ve travelled across the globe but it’s as though the umbilical cord is always stretched thin to breaking – a tether to my coast that has me tied until I die and maybe even after, when I’m grey dust scattered on the wave. That first view of my sea on my return, and I let go pent-up breath. Once again, I feel right.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s a kind of hiraeth or cianalas - homesickness. I certainly can’t call it seasickness!
I walked along the edge with the terrier as he went searching for his favourite shells, which he can now sniff out like a truffle hunter.
I found a shell shaped like Australia (without Tasmania), and as waves retreated, pippies popped up and I thought if I had been remotely interested, I would have picked up a bucketful and made a Marinara but I’m no fan of seafood pasta or paella.
We watched a rubber ducky motor in from an anchored yacht. Two weathered men jumped out and pulled the craft through the surf onto the sand and began to unload empty water bottles and a gas cylinder. A provisioning journey for sure, and I wondered from where they had sailed and where they were heading. They weren’t inclined to talk and were wrapped for the cold as we had just experienced a southerly change. The breeze was skipping meanly around my bare legs and they were wet from the surf, but the water was as warm as a bath and a paltry shaft of sun-light tried its best, sadly failing as the low sea-cloud drifted in again.
The sea had been azure and turquoise against the cliffs three days before. Now it was like damascened steel – unforgiving and stormy. I retreated to the cottage with a handful of grass heads, all pale gold and crackling dry, which I placed in a vase with some silver birch twigs and a branch of Viburnum which has decided to blush and flirt with autumn. I made hot chocolate with creamy milk, white marshmallows and sprinkles of Lindt chocolate and then sat on the window seat as the sea symphony played outside.
Left the physio clinic after a punishing massage, with three exercises which hopefully will help to unlock the tightness around my left scapula that has plagued me for weeks. Physiotherapists, along with my sports’ medicine physician, are God’s own people!
Visited my friend down the road who is a plantsman of great depth and experience. (also a coast dweller). Her vegetable garden is the stuff of dreams. She has a brown lab puppy, named after esteemed gardener Vita S-W and which had moments before, taken off with the toilet roll, and had also found a dead bunny killed by the cat and was loving it! Puppies – everything that’s naughty and nice!
Picked up my adored little grandson from school for the first time, and when he emerged from kindergarten with his enormous hat, gigantic bag and school uniform, I felt a visceral slide … the glorious baby days were done (and he was such a good and obliging little bub) and everything was changing. I find change disorienting, so he and I went to the Sweet Shop and had berry icecreams and he chose a Minion lollipop whilst I chose a giant freckle. The sugar overload was a panacea.
We walked to the river, fed the ducks, and the terrier fell in and became coated with luminous green river weed. We laughed – blame it on the sugar!
The Glass Magician by Charlie N Holmberg
And of note on Substack,
who writes about food in the most perfect and unconventional way. She tells emotive backstories and this latest, on panini, is delightful.
Plant catalogues – there’s always a bare corner somewhere that needs filling, especially as I watch the first of the autumn leaves from the liquid ambers floating down, and the willows wondering if amber is really their colour.
Ballet music – especially Don Quixote.
Audio - Bernard Cornwell’s Fools and Mortals has charmed me. The narrator is just pure brilliance, and I can imagine him as one of the Players. The novel is set in Elizabethan London and the protagonist is Richard Shakespeare, William’s much younger brother.
There’s little of Cornwell’s epic swashbuckle here but much of a pure love of great literature. He has created such an ensemble of players that the tale he is rendering beneath Shakespeare’s lofty writing leaves me almost speechless.
This is, quite simply, a REALLY good standalone novel.
I’ll head off shortly for a walk with the terrier. We’ll feel the sand between our toes and I’ll wade through the water. He might swim. The waves will pull and tease and the coast may change a little from yesterday and tomorrow, in that contrary way, it may change back again. And I’ll have this little song in my head. Might belt out a few words as I walk the deserted coast.
No one will hear except for the terrier…
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Lovely, Prue. It’s 4AM and I should be asleep. I loved this so much; maybe it’s just the balm to do it. Your ‘coast’ is beautiful and ‘La Mer’ is perfect!
Beautiful photos to accompany the wonderful writing!