So I have been thinking and procrastinating about doing this for ages, this blogging thing. Mulling over ideas, thinking who might read, does there need to be yet another blog out there. I have absolutely no idea where it will lead if indeed anywhere but here goes..
Dipping your toes in the water can be a variable experience on the shores of island Britain. With its diverse geology, unpredictable climate and hidden elements below the water line, appearances can be deceptive. But you have to enter the water obtain the fullest sensory experience and if you just look you will never know what it feels like.
When our eldest was a toddler we lived near the South Coast and took trips to nearby Bournemouth. The best time of the year was September, after the schools had gone back and the crowds of tourists had left. 1989 happened to be a glorious Indian summer and therefore ideal to take this curious young child for his first sea experiences. The prolonged warm weather and the shallow edges of the shoreline served to make the sea deliciously refreshing and made this family paddling experience a joyful time.
Several years later when our son was on the cusp of the teenage years and had been joined by a younger brother and sister, we spent a few days on the Devon/Cornwall border. Beaches were quite shingly and the weather not conducive to spending long periods sitting around, so we were all in and out of the water frequently. I was standing in the water near some rocks and all of a sudden I was knocked off my feet by a more forceful wave and onto the rocks. Sheepishly I got to my feet and started to walk out of the sea nursing a bruised ego. However I noticed the water turning pink as I got to the shallows and realised my right big toe had been gashed by the rock. Being in the relatively cool water had numbed any pain, so the first realisation of any injury was visual. It was not long before I was yelping in pain and the dashing young lifeguard came running over to see if he could do anything! Handily it was flip flop weather for the few days following, so the wound healed relatively quickly.
My husband (The Scotsman)'s grandmother hails from North Uist in the Outer Hebrides and in 2009 we were privileged to be able to take the long haul up there to see for ourselves the ancestral land (to take the shortest sea crossing entails travelling right across Skye to catch a ferry). North Uist is the flattest island in the archipelago. This makes for a general lack of trees on the landscape and those that remained had the appearance of hunch-backed and knarled elderly widows, defiant in their battle to stay in the ground against fierce, Atlantic-borne winds.
Another effect of these powerful ocean breezes is to grind the sand on the shore so fine that in the sunlight it looks dazzling white. Indeed if the sun is out on one of the rare days, walking on the beach it is easy to imagine that you are on an exotic Caribbean island, until a sharp wisp of wind slashes across your face and you realise that it is at least 20 degrees cooler. As inviting as the shoreline looks it is impossible to stay paddling in the sea for much longer than 10 minutes at a time, because despite its breathtaking beauty and dazzling azure hue, the water it is just so cold.