Saturday, 30 January 2016

simple pleasures

As gentle tides go rolling by,
Along the salt sea strand
The colours blend and roll as one
Together in the sand.
And often do the winds entwine
Do send their distant call,
The quiet joys of brotherhood,
And love is lord of all.

A strange winter indeed. Storms lash the coasts, apocalyptic floods take out major towns and one small Welsh village gets 85 consecutive days of rain. Meanwhile, over here on the east coast it's been a bit breezy occasionally.

Yesterday the sun shone brightly and the winds dropped from forty mph to about ten and it seemed too good not to go for a stroll. Get out there and walk along the beach. I wandered down to the beach and turned to the east and started off briskly with any breeze behind me and gently pushing me along. Along the way there were a few fishermen, quite a few dog-walkers and one beachcomber hoping for treasure but just finding old tin cans by the looks of it.

It only takes about twenty five minutes to get up to the little hamlet (long legs) and it was far too early to entertain the idea of going to the pub for lunch. So, I crossed the path and walked along by the River Deben towards the Kingsfleet. Supposedly, this was part of an important Medieval port called Goseford and ships were sent off from here at the start of the Hundred Years War. By now the path was becoming increasingly muddy. I stopped to chat with an elderly couple* - newcomers to the area - and they warned me of the path. Actually I didn't think it was that bad but they also told me about seeing lots of geese. As I wandered along with the fields on my left and the creeks and mudflats to my left, the noise became noticeable and the fields seemed to be covered with these honking hooligans. In the distance a woman walking her dog must have spooked them as they rose up almost as one. The sky was filled with low flying greylag geese and for a moment it was all very exciting as they were only a few feet above me. They circled round then came and settled back in to the field after a few minutes.

I walked on and saw a couple of redshanks snuffling about in a creek, then turned back towards the way I'd come. And then from behind heard me I heard a real raspy croak that seemed near and from something quite big. To my pleasure, an egret had got spooked and flew off in alarm nearer to where the redshanks were foraging. I managed to take a couple of shots just as the geese flew up in alarm again overhead. But with a phone for a camera I only really had a white blur to show for my troubles. I wandered back towards where it had landed but it flew off another few feet so it was still too difficult to get much of a shot. Just above me a cormorant flew over which I watched for awhile with my binoculars and it flew further over the river towards Bawdsey and the sea beyond. I guess it was in the same frame of mind as me. It was looking for fish for its dinner. I only had to go to the fishmonger's shed, though, the poor bugger had to dive for his.

So I bought some alien looking fish which looked so weird and beautiful that I had to have them. There were only three and as that was how many I needed it just had to be. When I got these Gurnard I realised that I had no idea what to do with them but a quick Google came up with a Hugh Dick Furry-Whittington recipe, he of the River Cottage, and much hilarity ensued as the family wrestled with them to take the bones out and remove their heads. Mrs Dave reckons that looking at them from the underside made them look like the face-hugger from Alien.

A pint of Suffolk's finest and a decent sandwich whilst I completed a crossword in the local hostelry later and I was ready to yomp back home. Facing the breeze and with the sun having moved on a bit so I wasn't blinded I worked up a fine head of steam home. I thought afterwards that I would have killed to have spent a day like that when I was young. I had winter fields and woodlands to walk around but not the sea and rivers. The bird life was fine when I was a kid but having the chance to see such things that I still find exciting made it a good day.

And that's the point really. I haven't written this to gloat because I don't go to work any more. I guess I just wanted to revel in taking simple pleasures and still being able to get excited by the natural world, much as I did when I were a nipper. I love the American expression, "Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you" and that's how it is. Today wasn't so wonderful what with a leaking toilet and irritable boiler syndrome but at least I can think back to the sheer joy I felt yesterday.

* I mean they are old enough to be drawing a State pension not just stopped working and collecting a teacher's pension. 


Andy Wright said...

Really enjoyed this piece Dave.Your descriptions and 'painting of the scene'were so vivid it made me feel like I was with you on your walk (except I'd actually be about half a mile behind you.....short legs!). Great writing.Thank you.

Dave Leeke said...

Thank you, Andy. I wish you had been there: you'd have loved the roast beef sandwich and the pint of Adnams.

Andy Wright said...

Without the shadow of a doubt!