A Breath of Air

How lovely it was to be out in the fresh sea air on Saturday, instead of pacing my room reading tweets from disgruntled Trump supporters and speculative articles in the New York Times. Instead of trying to find out what no one could yet know.

D reflected in my lens

We didn’t walk over cliff tops, instead we went to Horse Isle Bay, which is a little south of Palnackie. You get to it by walking along a road that goes through a farm, and which leads to a path that takes you into a rather lovely oak wood, which, we were delighted to find, had cows in it. This path twists and bends and, at times, confuses by forking off in more directions than the map shows but, eventually, leads you out onto the shore. It’s not a long walk, we clocked up a little over ten thousand steps, and it’s pretty flat so, physically, it was an easy stroll. We heard curlews, several of them; woodpeckers; and jays, all of which made D very happy. In fact, he liked it so much he suggested we book a holiday cottage, once things are back to normal, so we can fully explore the place. We had seen many paths we’d like to have taken but, as the days are now so short, we didn’t have time to get lost. One of the things we have in common is that we both rather enjoy getting lost and then having to use our wits to find our way again. I’ve made some of my best discoveries by taking the wrong road, both by accident and with intention. Hopefully, we’ll be able to return in the spring when there’ll be wildflowers and masses of birdsong, and a sense of multiple possibilities. Not that we didn’t have a sense of multiple possibilities, we did, because we had never been to this particular place before, so we didn’t know what we’d find. I was quite surprised, for example, to find that the beach was sandy and had reeds growing out of it. Beaches tend to be rocky around the Solway, though there are several notable exceptions.

On the way we had taken a slight diversion to drop in at our favourite bakery, pick up lunch, and replenish the stash of loaves in our freezer. So when we got to the beach we sat down on the edge of the path which, having fallen away slightly, provided us with a kind of stepped bench, to eat delicious things. D had a pastry filled with feta and spinach, I had a pork and garlic sausage roll, and we both had bottles of kombucha. We’d each had a pain au chocolat and coffee not more than a couple of hours earlier, while sitting in the car checking the map, so we didn’t need much. Once we’d eaten and stared out to sea, and marvelled at the site of a wood so close to the water’s edge, and said hello to a variety of dogs who’d walked passed (with owners), we walked out to a spit of rock D called ‘The Point’, poked around for a bit, and headed back to the car as the sun began to lose height.

Going back through the wood we saw things we had missed the first time: tiny fungi; still flowering red campion; brambles, plump but – at this time of year! – not yet ripe. I like retracing my steps, going back the way I’d come: places look different a second time, from a new angle or unfamiliar direction and you get a fuller picture. We probably all need to go over what feels like old ground a bit more often.

When we got back to the car D handed me the caramel topped chocolate brownie I hadn’t got round to eating earlier, and I couldn’t resist taking it out of its paper bag and biting a bit off. It was very sticky, so I shouldn’t also have picked up my phone to see if there was any news. But I did, and you know I found there was news indeed! Thus, I covered everything in crumbs and goo in my excitement.

I’m so gobsmackingly relieved. Which is about all I can say about that at the moment; I’m still reeling, like someone who narrowly missed being hit by a truck doing 70 along a cobbled village lane. So, while we all absorb the news and its likely outcomes, here are some pictures:

Looking over to the point and Kippford beyond.
Salt Marsh
Looking back to the beach from the point, with zillions of fallen apples.
A closer look at the apples, which were tiny crabapples.

Saturday 7 November 2020 will be marked on my calendar as a good day.

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