Shot on the Fujifilm X100T

There's a stretch of coast in Northern England both bleak and beautiful. Along the shore the cord-grass runs a tawny green, a faded rough carpet snug against the water's edge, dominating the salt marsh. Stranded sail boats lay about the landscape, tilting towards all points of the compass, waiting for the tide. 

And here and there within that bristling spartina lay artefacts big and small. Anchor chains. The bones of ships. Dead crabs. Cracked buoys spilling their foam insides. Apart from the measure of the tides the place feels timeless, a step back into the still serenity of a Constable landscape, beneath a Turner sky.  

And so, we go out to explore...


Mud underfoot, a dried crust that cracks beneath my boots as I near the water's edge. The place feels oddly eternal, as if the tide never ebbs and flows. Sticks speared into the mud look like the staff of pilgrims. Whether they are there for guidance in navigating the channels, or for the tying up of boats, or simply for the placement of fishing nets; I cannot tell. 

The houses that face the sea, dotted here and there along the shoreline. There's no life to be seen in the gardens, no faces at the windows. A line of washing blowing gently in the sea breeze is the only sign of life I see amongst these far-flung outposts of suburbia. But out amongst the wooden ships there is movement, however languid. Men sit snugly within their quiet wooden sanctuaries, looking out to the grey wash of the Irish sea.  And why not? There's something that seems so cosy and secure within those dark interiors behind the smudged, dusty glass windows and canvas curtains - a place to curl up with a book and a lantern and a bottle of whiskey. Just make sure you've dropped anchor; to nap and find yourself shifting out on the incoming tide, bobbing adrift in the great Irish sea, bourne down upon by a container ship... a rude awakening and a quantity of spilt whiskey.

The evening is drawing in. We write postcards in the local pub. Sink a pint or two. Better head inland. Where's the train station? The suburb - seemingly once another world away - now closes in around one like a labyrinth, endless. It is well into night before we hit the station. But as the train pulls in to take us home to pizza and movies, my mind's eye still dances amongst those gaudy red and yellow boats; those little wooden treasures marking time on the shoreline. Waiting for quiet decay, the gentle salt water lapping around the knees and ribs, under mottled grey skies. 

This little story sees a shout-out to Sue, my companion of good cheer in many travels and one of the most agreeably thoughtful people I know. Here's to the next great expedition Sue, and thank you for the lovely birthday present!

And for all my readers out there, until next time...