Tuesday, 31 January 2012

 The Drowning of Ariel 


When the squall struck he danced with glee 
Believing himself kith of the old sea rover 
Sharing his nemesis; the sea 
Caught unaware by the swell Ariel heeled over 
Dipped her gunnels deep, swigged a raver's 
Draught of sweet brine, flung up her slender 
Prow, sat back on her stern, and foundered 

He lay motionless in the water, his clothes 
Ballooning about him pulling him down, down 
But Keats’ book in his coat pocket rose 
Like a dolphin, sang out in his dead friend's own 
Voice and summoned its fellows to rescue drowning 
Shelley. At the last they came. Arching in a long file 
over the waves and carried him away to Sappho's isle. 

On the beach a dead thing. Bloated, amorphous 
Hung about with bladderwrack. A sodden coat 
Rucked and wrinkled about it. Blubberous 
Sea-changed. Mute. 
They sent him skywards in a warrior's boat 
Piled iron and stout timbers about his pyre 
And on the flames flung frankincense, saltpetre and myrrh 


Seeking an entry point at this Northern shore 
I kneel in supplication and submit to your embrace 
Womb of life. I knock on the half open door 
at the unknown edge where wind tears off my face 
Where the wind sings out directions in a high voice 
Buoy me up, cleanse me in body and spirit 
My brave craft, my pilot 

Shelley was a bold seafarer, who did not fear 
The awful shadow of the unseen power 
In the dizzy ravine or on the rugged glacier 
He rang like the plucked strings of the Aoelian lyre 
As the blue flame flows over a coal on fire 
His spirit moved with the ever changing melody 
Which charges this various world with beauty 

Even now when I hear his wondrous song 
Ring out from the still cave of the witch Poesy 
My eyes water and the short hairs rise along 
The nape of my neck, as though I were tipsy 
With some intoxicant or transported to a windy 
Shore where our human souls converse 
With the awful power of the universe 

Do not mourn Shelley in the winter storm 
When a chill wind rushes down the icy reach 
Remember him in the radiant dawn 
When the sun caresses the silent beach 
And in the fields the Skylark's song, is speech 
Too potent for a human pen 
Remember Shelley and he lives again. 


As I stroke into the waves, my shoulder muscles 
Burn with a cold flame. The current pushes 
Me hard towards the river mouth. Tired corpuscles 
Force short breaths. The sea, cold and muddy, rushes 
my eyes and mouth. I sing out the snatches 
of Keats I remember and wait in vain for dolphins 
Then tumble onto the shingle, and bruise my shins 

Jeremy Solnick – January 2011 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Low Tide05:42 (0.40m)
High Tide11:59 (2.40m)
Low Tide17:43 (0.70m)
High Tide23:55 (2.70m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: shallow water, small waves just at crutch height for about 100 yards
Weather: thick fog
Joined by: a lone fisherman
Topics of conversation:
The shallow water - the tide was mid way and yet seemed too far out again, we had to wade through the water to get out far enough to swim, which in this weather is not fun. There was much, much more swearing and shouting than usual and even DK, normally so demure, used a few choice words as the little waves lapped at our nether regions. We were able to compare leg length as the cold water hit each of us in between the legs at different times. I'm not sure if it's an advantage to have a short body and long legs as I heard the others gasp in shock before it had hit me. We joked that we'd have to stick together as the fog was thick and we could lose sight of one another or the shore. I've just returned home to an email from a friend whose house has unparalleled views over the shore and she asked if I'd been wearing my high vis bikini this morning, err no, that's why you couldn't see me!

 The village production (we mustn't call it a panto...) is high on the list of topics this week as The Pirate's son is starring, DK is musical director and I'm the MUG (make up girl). It starts this time next week and with the technical rehearsal at the weekend tempers are running high. In the last 24 hours there have been numerous rows between cast and crew and various people threatening to walk, including a bad tempered Badger and a butler in drag, all over a door knocker. The desire for perfection is so great that there's even been an almost tearful yet very talented Toad. I've never known such drama off stage (and I worked with animals and children in live TV for many a year). Although it's not a panto, we decided that the off stage stuff is, or perhaps a soap opera. The Pirate's son is absolutely brilliant, as in his performance would stand up in the West End. He is playing Ratty and is doing so with great charm, he plays it with subtlety and yet gets everything just right, it helps that it's a musical and he can sing, dance and act all at the same time, which the director keeps pointing out is quite important. He and Toad managed to turn one scene in the first run through I saw into a homoerotic comedy sketch, which had the audience of cast and crew in stitches, but is clearly not the ticket on the night (shame...). Memo to self: must prepare 6 moustaches for Ratty and one for each of the constables for each night... quick tally makes that 32 moustaches by Monday.
Ratty trying on his moustache

Saturday, 21 January 2012

oops...just found this in drafts...

High Tide06:19 (2.40m)
Low Tide12:41 (0.80m)
High Tide19:09 (2.20m)

Sea temperature: I don't remember if we took it today but it felt warmer

Sea conditions: calm, deep lovely swimming sea

Weather: grey, had been raining

Joined by: no one

Topics of conversation:

Tide timetables - DK's new ones had arrived and the print is so tiny that they are almost illegible, especially when it's grey and you need glasses. DK has always been rather disparaging of my Tidesplan app. and today I was able to compare. His table said high tide was at 06:18, the app. said 06:20 the national tide times website said 06:19 (see above) as did the BBC. Such a tiny discrepancy that I think we can rely on the app. which is legible, full colour and shows sunrise, sunset and has a lovely little picture of a boat on the graph!

Bosco's daughter been to visit and The Pirate was telling me that she is one of those dogs who is a total mix of both parents, looks like her mum but has Bosco's temperament. His temperament is much misunderstood by one of the village elders, who once experienced him getting cross and has since thought he's a monster - nothing could be further from the truth and I only wish he could have seen Bosco this morning as Mabel was jumping up, attempting to snog him whilst he played with his special stone on the beach. He swore at her a couple of times but who wouldn't?

The lure of the starlings is like a siren drawing me onto the marsh. I went for a walk yesterday evening as it was growing dark and again saw the starlings starting to gather, so I walked towards them, as they drifted south. They are so seductive as they start to form shapes in the sky and before I knew it I was out beyond the deepest part of the marsh, heading towards the forest. Once I'd started to watch them I had to wait till they had roosted and the flock got bigger and bigger as little black balls of birds appeared on the horizon and were soon swallowed by the Great Dark Mass. The GDM got lower and lower, floating up and down as they began to drop, by now I'd been watching for 45 minutes and the dogs were investigating the reeds. Suddenly Willow stood on her hind legs and began to growl the deepest growl I'd ever heard her sound, she sounded like a wolf and I have to admit to being a little alarmed, especially when Luna joined in and they both stared at the reeds, shouting a the tops of their voices. With relief I saw a white shape drifting towards us in the dyke below, a lone swan minding its own business. The Pirate asked what I would have done if it had been a person and I'm not sure to be honest, but we agreed that he would have looked otherworldly coming out of the mist on the marsh with his long hair floating in the breeze!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

2 day post

High Tide02:45 (2.60m)
Low Tide09:14 (0.60m)
High Tide15:32 (2.20m)
Low Tide21:10 (0.90m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: still very low tide, medium waves
Weather: glorious sunny morning - chilly (frost in the shade)
Joined by: The Constable - henceforth to be known as 'Wrong Way J."
Topics of conversation:
Welcome back to the pirate! It's great to have him back. He went through the 4 stages of cold water swimming this morning, it's an exaggerated form of what we all go through every morning, magnified by the number of days you have been absent:

  1. Fear and trepidation - I can't do this, I might die, it's bloody freezing, the water is dangerous, does everyone here know CPR?
  2. Shock and horror - Holy Cr*p it really is bloody freezing, my heart has stopped, I can't breathe, the world is spinning, if I die it's my own fault for being such an idiot, why am I shouting but no sound is coming out?
  3. Exhilaration and euphoria - I can feel every part of my body (oh wait, not my feet or fingers), I'm alive, I'm the luckiest person alive, I am floating and my limbs are moving, the sun is rising over the sea, I'm surrounded by capable swimmers who will save me if I drown, what have I done to deserve this joy?
  4. Pride and relief - I did it, I got back into the sea and now I can get out, I'm still alive and within 15 minutes I could be warm again, I haven't made too much of a fool of myself, my trunks/costume stayed on, what on earth was the fuss all about?
The Pirate has been on retreat, the majority of which was silent and although we had discussed it before we talked about Into Great Silence, the award winning, almost silent, 3 hour film that documents the life of Carthusian monks at the Chartreuse Monastery in the French Alps. I haven't seen it and certainly wouldn't watch it on DVD as I'd need the support/discipline of watching it in a cinema, where there are no distraction, which both The Pirate and Wrong Way J. have experienced. There is a scene in the film in which the monks do speak, their 'day off' as it were and apparently they have a wonderful time sledding and so on, all the while squealing to their hearts content, at this point The Pirate's Wife leant over in the cinema and said "They sound just like Pingu!" A light moment in the silence. This led on to the sinister and gruelling film Of Gods and Men, which won the Grande Prize and Cannes. This is one which I would have to watch on DVD - I couldn't subject fellow cinema goers to my sobbing. This in turn led on to Borgen - I've caught up but The Pirate hasn't so DK and I discussed it in non-specific terms as the best thing on TV at the moment. The last 2 episodes have really been exceptional and powerful (more sobbing), why can't we make dramas like it? This also led on to The Slap - we've been given the series on DVD for Christmas and I'm trying to find time to watch it as it's been highly praised.

High Tide03:39 (2.50m)
Low Tide10:12 (0.70m)
High Tide16:47 (2.20m)
Low Tide22:13 (1.00m)

Sea temperature: 4.8
Sea conditions: still low tide, hardly any waves
Weather: freezing - hard frost everywhere and temperatures starting at 0 degrees first thing, rising to 2 as the sun rose
Joined by: No one
Topics of conversation:
A letter from Abs - we miss her and she wrote to explain that she won't be able to come for a while. It's admirable that she can make it at all, especially when it's so far for her to come but there'll always be a spot for her here.
Tuesdays are my early start day and I'd been up since dawn wandering the marshes in the mist, the frost was hard and the dogs really love charging about in it and rolling in the icy grass, by the time we got to the beach The Pirate was there, taking in the view.
The view
The Pirate
Marsh mist
Trails reflected


Sunday, 15 January 2012

High Tide01:59 (2.60m)
Low Tide08:26 (0.60m)
High Tide14:39 (2.30m)
Low Tide20:19 (0.90m)  
Sea temperature: 5.2
Sea Conditions: Very. very low tide, small irritating waves
Weather: Mild, slightly windy, clouds
Joined by: No one
Topics of conversation:
Borgen was banned today as we're catching up tonight, but DK alerted me to look out for another character from The Killing in the cabinet.
Waggy Tails - Mabel's new school - she's learning to 'lie down' and 'stand up' and I later had a demo of her new skills, which were very impressive. Apparently she was used as the demo dog - always a good sign (although when The Yogi uses my for demo's in class I think it's just because she knows me well enough to push and prod me into asanas with more force!).
I wasn't really awake this morning, until I swallowed a mouth full of sea water and then I felt rather sick so a can't remember much more but the skies were stunning.

Friday, 13 January 2012

High Tide00:37 (2.60m)
Low Tide07:01 (0.50m)
High Tide13:12 (2.40m)
Low Tide18:54 (0.80m)
Sea temperature: 5.6
Sea conditions: calm with a gentle swell
Weather: cold, frosty, clear.
Joined by: no one
Topics of conversation:
The Pirate's return - We're not sure when he's back and as he's on a silent retreat and doesn't use a mobile so we'll just have to wait and see, hopefully he'll be back tomorrow. The forecast is for mist in the morning so I may take my camera for a trip up the estuary and swim later though.
The weather was a major topic of conversation for us today as there has been such a drop in temperature - the decimal point has moved as this morning's air temperature was 1.1 degrees as DK left home. We're starting to instigate cold weather measures. I've been given a wonderful hand warmer for Christmas by my mother-in-law, I went to set it up but it takes fuel and her personal shopper forgot, so I'll have to get some for the weekend. The furry boots are out, as are the thick socks and Luna has her coat on. DK's snood/balaclava was rolled higher than usual too.
Oh the elegance of the North Sea swimmer!

DK, Legs and I had all had a bad night (not together you understand), and none slept well. Legs and I had both had vivid dreams and DK told me that hers had involved scary polar bears. Neither of us understand dream interpretation theories so we didn't attempt to analyse Legs but we agreed that the dream you are having when you are woken by a noise or alarm is the most clear. I'd had one of these, in it the whole of the harbour and marsh fields had been taken over by a huge fun fair, complete with carousels, helter skelters and an enormous space ship style ride. It was warm and sunny and the fair was teeming with people. I'd bumped into an old friend who I was afraid I'd never see again, who'd been taken there as a birthday treat and we both became kids again, with not a care in the world. It was a shame to wake to find no dodgems down by the river.  Legs's dream sounded less fun so I texted when I got home to see if the polar bears had gone yet but apparently there's still one in the garden as I type. She's going to send Mabel out to get it.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Low Tide06:19 (0.50m)
High Tide12:32 (2.40m)
Low Tide18:15 (0.80m)
Sea temperature not taken
Sea conditions: whipped up by the wind
Weather: quite a breeze... actually it was just windy, I admit
Joined by: No one
Topics of conversation:
Borgen - as Killing fans we had lots to discuss, and our consensus was that it's smart, stylish and we love the characters, but also that it's simply the political bit from The Killing on its own. They even seem to use the same sets and certainly there is a big cross over on cast and crew. Makes sense I guess. The scandi phenomenon has spawned so many spoofs, but this is particularly good, don't switch off thill the last frame DK:

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Low Tide05:36 (0.50m)
High Tide11:53 (2.40m)
Low Tide17:35 (0.70m)
High Tide23:58 (2.60m)
Sea temperature: 6.6
Sea conditions: very calm
Weather: clear, strange skies, no breeze 
Joined by: No one
Topics of conversation:
Strange skies - as DK and I met by the huts a strange light grew in the sky, neither of us had seen anything like it before. The sun was rising over the sea and the light appeared directly opposite the sunrise, in the west. It rose up through a cloud and as we stared the spectrum of colours increased, suggesting it could be a rainbow, but it was through a cloud and as the sun hadn't risen properly so it grew and rose in front of us. At it's peak there was a slight suggestion of an arc, so it must have been the sunrise rainbow although there was no rain, nor has there been since. I didn't really get a good photo of it for the same reason that I didn't get a photo of the northern lights when I saw them - I was too mesmerised.

Return to the waves - it's been my longest break for a year (when I was away) as the catalogue of recent health problems has kept me away. The last month hasn't been great and a combination of birthday blues and holiday indulgence certainly allowed the lurgie etc. to take hold and the final nail in the coffin brought amusement to some - I pulled an arse muscle, I had no idea it was possible nor how painful it could be! Even sitting down was hard for a day or so. Today is the first day I've felt myself this year, but it is only the 11th. The sun and sea (and a dose of DK) are the best medicine.
Shelley's death and cremation on the beach. The Constable is writing a poem about him and this had previously led to a discussion about cremating bodies on boats. We used to have a party in the village every year when an old boat was set alight and sent out to sea to burn, but it no longer happens, I'm not sure why (some kind of H&S regulation I expect). Whilst my body will go to the Cambridge School of Anatomy, as per the previous post, I decided that if I did drown on one of our early morning swims that it would be a fitting way to be sent off and demanded that DK make note. Perhaps when The Constable has finished his poem he'd allow it to be blogged - the story of Shelley's  death is wonderful:
Having a romantic notion of the sea he'd bought and 'pimped' a boat, adding extra sails and so on so that when he was caught in a seasonal storm off the coast of Italy the boat was lost and Shelley and all on board were drowned. Their bodies washed up some time later and the story goes that his friends and companions (I believe Byron and Trelawny were the main instigators) cremated him where he was found (due to the state of the body and their desire for the dramatic). They fetched frankincense and myrrh from the church to throw on the body and satisfied the more pagan side of Shelley with wine. It is said that as the flames took hold his brain was seen to boil but that his heart did not even burn. One of the assembled, again I think it was Byron, plunged his hand into Shelley's chest and retrieved the heart so that it could be returned to Mary. And all this before breakfast...

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Low Tide02:45 (0.90m)
High Tide09:13 (2.20m)
Low Tide14:54 (0.90m)
High Tide21:28 (2.40m)
Sea temperature: 6.4
Sea conditions: high and calm with swell
Weather: sunny (once the sun rose) with clear sky
Joined by: no one
Topics of conversation:
The tides - having been flooded for 3 days now the village is in a bit of a mess, with rubbish from the sea, the river and the marsh fetching up everywhere. It all looks so beautiful when you can't see it but as the water rises it brings last seasons detritus from its hidden depths in the reeds, as well as the usual sea flotsam. DK and I have been so confused lately with all these 'ad hoc' tides and as I was approaching the beach I ran into Village Elder No.1 on his morning walk, so I asked him if he could explain. Don't know why I hadn't asked him before, he made such sense. To digest: This week we have a combination spring tides (this does not mean it's spring but that there is a big difference between high and low) and a full moon on Monday. This means the water will be high regardless but the fluctuation is due to strong north westerly winds bringing a surge from the Atlantic waters around the top of Scotland and when this combines with water from the Channel coming up the east of the country and going into the Thames Estuary it can both exaggerate and adjust the tides on our little stretch of the coast. Last night it had taken quite a chunk of shingle from the beach as well as going over the defence at the end of the marsh. Village Elder No. 1 was explaining that the older generation used to read the waters by flotsam and jetsam too but that no one could predict how it will happen in the future, especially not the Sea Defence Committee! He also said he was no expert and that I could find the real experts in the church yard. I vow to learn more about it.

I'm still not well, it all seems to have hit me at once so I didn't swim but it was lovely to see DK and the sea, as well as allowing Willow and Mable their morning play. Again I'm playing fast and loose with DK's catalogue... sorry!

The Pirate is off on his annual retreat with The Buddhist (who was previously mentioned) and so won't be joining us for a little while, he will be missed. Their dear friend died last week and The Pirate's Wife is trying to sort out her estate. They have run into similar red tape to my situation when my Father died - she wanted her body to be used for medical science and had made arrangements for this but the state has called for post mortem inquest as she had had a fall and was in a nursing home - the result being that her wishes cannot be fulfilled. It's such a terrible thing for those of us remaining, when their last wishes cannot be attended to. My Father had not signed an 'upgrade' form, which meant he wasn't able to go to the Cambridge Human Anatomy Centre, they were as sad as we were and tried to help but all our hands were tied. My Mother and I have ensured that all our paperwork is up to date and as the secretary at Cambridge requested, we'll try not to go under a bus!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Low Tide00:01 (1.20m)
High Tide06:14 (2.20m)
Low Tide12:46 (1.00m)
High Tide19:25 (2.20m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: calm and very high
Weather: chilly and clear
Joined by: No one
Topics of conversation:
The high tide flooding - there was no way through by the harbour and the water was nearly up to the top ridge. Neither The Pirate nor I went in, I was still feeling like I'd been used as a punchbag and the swell was too deep for The Pirate. Even my dogs have been sick for the last 2 days so the three of us have kept ourselves to ourselves but today we made the effort to get up and out and I'm so glad we did. The sunrise was stunning and DK cut a dash in the sea on his own.
Car park? What car park?
Wet feet before we even got there

DK the lone swimmer


Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year

High Tide03:03 (2.40m)
Low Tide09:39 (0.80m)
High Tide16:35 (2.10m)
Low Tide21:17 (1.10m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: shallow with a few small, choppy waves
Weather: grey with promise - some blue sly heading our way
Joined by: The Constable
Topics of conversation:
Apologies to The Constable, who had arrived at our normal time to swim, but we hadn't told him that we'd given ourselves a 30 minute lie in... Sorry again. DK deserved a lie in as he'd been playing last night and hadn't gone home till 3, he has such stamina that he only needed an extra 30 mins you see.
On the other hand I'd been lying on the sofa wrapped in a blanket with Beechams powders all evening and had only known that it was approaching midnight because I'd been prodded regularly and given a countdown. I've been fighting off the thing everyone has had (sore throat, coughing all night, aches, glands like golf balls and a particularly bad temper thrown in for good measure) and this was probably my most abstemious New Year's Eve in 15 years: 3 Beechams and a very lovely Whisky at midnight for luck. I'd managed to get some cooking done for today's lunch as a result of being too pony to go out, but the catalan orange caramel had suffered too - wrong texture.  Had it not been for the flashes and bangs through the skylights I'd have been asleep by 10pm but a swim on New Year's Day was still essential this morning and I can report that it certainly did some temporary good.
Fireworks were high on the agenda this morning, the village has gone firework mad and it had been rather like being in London, with the first ones starting as the sun went down and the final ones finishing with such force at 12.15 that we had to check that there wasn't a mushroom cloud over the village. The dogs were terrified. DK and Legs have had recurring problems with noisy neighbours and last year said neighbours were asked not to let fireworks off as close as they had to the horses - they had been badly spooked - but took no notice. Poor Mabel tried to tunnel under the TV, they were so close. A row ensued and although I wouldn't dream of going into details, Legs was accused of being "unhinged", I couldn't resist the urge to call the two of them "Unhinged and Bracket" for the day.
The Constable had been out of the village for a bash and had returned at around 3am also. As he turned off the main road, around 4 miles from the village he had been spooked by a ghostly figure at the junction. I didn't like to tell him that there is a tale of a hanging at that junction, which has given rise to 'sightings' of horseless carriages and other spooky goings on, and it soon became clear that this apparition had been none other than Ratty, The Pirate's no.2 son, who had been to a party another 4 miles away and was wending his weary way home. The Constable gave him a lift of course. He has a nose for finding help when in dire need, he was last seen in the pub on Christmas Eve asking the bar staff what he could get for £1.40 - a bag of crisps was about it, but he was standing next to Mertz when he said it and was soon happily downing a pint of some obscure beer or other.

We are sending good wishes and love to The Pirate and The Pirate's Wife, who have been at the bedside of a very dear friend since boxing day. It must be a very sad and painful way to start the New Year.
From White Bridge 28th

As we were getting ready to go a lovely couple approached us and asked "Is this a New Year tradition in this village?" we were slightly perplexed for a moment and then DK got the gist and said "NO, it's a daily one!"