Thursday, 16 July 2020


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.

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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.

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