Low water, early morning. Sand damp and pristine. The continuous sound of waves breaking on the beach. A salt wind off the sea carrying the smell of rotting kelp.
The shallow water over the sand was a mint green colour with dark ink-blue stains where there were patches of seaweed. Further out the sea was the blue of a cloundless sky.
I walked the length of Traeth Penllech, then scrambled up onto the cliff path. The shore became more stony and I looked down on little waves chasing playfully over almost submerged skerries - a different and more varied sound than the waves rolling over the smooth sand. The last words of Dylan Thomas's 'Fern Hill' came into my mind, 'Though I sang in my chains like the sea' and I started wondering about the idea of the sea being in chains.
The cliff path edged past big fields, pale after recent sileage-cutting. On the narrow border between farm and shore ragwort and meadowsweet were in flower, spear thistles were going to seed and wild carrots hosted red soldier beetles. There was a fluttering of butterflies - large whites, meadow browns, red admirals. I saw gulls and terns over the water and sand martins swooped overhead.
One of those perfect days - a 'given day' as they say in Shetland.
* * *
On Sunday afternoon a nearby private garden was open for charity. 'Disordered times: an almost rainless spring', wrote Grevel Lindop is his 'Shugborough Eclogues' and I wondered how this garden would have survived months of drought followed by gales and recent rain. July can be a time when gardens are getting a bit past it.
But this one was at its best. It was my kind of garden - informal and colourful. I explored along narrow winding grassy paths with something new round each corner. Five small pools contributed to the tranquil atmosphere. There were some beautiful unusual flowers and shrubs but I was pleased to see that local cottage garden favourites had not been forgotten - senecio, lace-cap hydrangea, montbretia.
The garden alternated between enclosed spaces and views of the surrounding rocky hills. In the distance was the blue line of the sea - the same coast where I had walked the day before.