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Posted by on March 15, 2013 in Writing, Writing (Walking) |



Lannacombe sparkles.  There’s something about the combination of winter light, the direction it faces, the rocks, the clarity and colour of the sandy beach, and the complexity of the formations in the rock pools. Although this is the Start Bay blog, perhaps it’s also why so many of these pieces seem to be about beaches outside the Bay, kind of to the right of it (when you’re facing the sea). Mattiscombe and Lannacombe beaches, which I suppose are the first two beaches on the other side of Start Point both seem to have this magical combination in the winter sunlight.

N of course headed off to the rocks – I assumed to swim.  She didn’t in the end.  Don’t really know why.


Lannacombe, like many other beaches around here, has a stream of fresh water flowing from land to sea, melding fresh water with salt water, and providing a metaphorical gateway between two ways of life.  The fresh water is coming off hills and fields: sometimes it roars and sometimes it trickles.  Yesterday it was fairly benign.  We haven’t had much rain lately so unlike the last few months there hasn’t been water pouring off the fields desperately trying to find a landing place and no longer able to soak into the earth. The earth here is saturated, still, from the hundred-year-floods we had back in December. Almost three months on, the land still groans and heaves with water, expelling and shrugging off any more that lands on it with the temerity to think that it might soak in and feed the pasture or the crops.  However, almost no rain of late meant yesterday that the water coming onto the beach tickled the beach rather than assaulting it.

As I write, I’m listening to it now. I recorded the whole length (the tide was low) of the water as it funnelled through the road bridge (‘road’ being something of an overstatement, but a road nevertheless, as there is a house to be reached about a quarter of a mile from the beach). As the water moves across the beach, of course it spreads out, becoming broader and softer as it goes, so that by the time it reaches the sea at low tide, it is so diffuse as to be hard to make out.  About halfway along this journey (and this is a phemonenon I’ve seen elsewhere) the water shifts in and out of standing waves as it carves a channel into the beach.  As it eddies and shifts, bits of sand from the edges of the channel fall into the water with a gentle plop.  It’s mesmerising and endlessly changing and shifting: vision change focus. When the standing waves take hold, albeit never for very long, the surface of the water becomes, it seems, stationary, and time just for a moment stands still.



Here, as you see, it’s barely a trickle, more like a wash across the never-dry sand.



Lannacombe is a dog’s beach. As I recorded I was approached by the stereotypical lolloping happy goofy lab, interested more in the recorder than in me. Later as I recorded down by the shore, she came to visit again, this time with ball, wanting play. Eventually, after a few throws, she did go back to Chris, her man-person. Later still when Chris was chatting to N, he explained that she (the dog, that is, whose name I unfortunately can’t remember) has sniffed out the fact that her human was heading back towards the car, and she wasn’t having it.  Surely someone else would play with her?



I’m making a sound blog about the journey the fresh water takes on its way to meet the salt.  I’ll post it here when it’s done.


Later still when I had finished this recording and had wandered back to where N was curled up in a natural, sun-soaked alcove, we were met by another dog. Clearly he decided that he liked the look of N’s blanket. There was a woman-and-horse on the beach, and we think she and her dogs live in the cottage by the beach, so clearly this beach was home. Home seems an appropriate term…





Decided I wasn’t done recording yet.  Conditions were reasonably good despite the off-shore breeze so I decided to head off to the rock pools and try to capture the tide coming in. In the end it was the tide that captured me, leaving me stranded on a rock as it snuck around and behind me. It was coming in so fast that I decided not to take the time to remove my boots and then my trousers, so I just waded on in and got thoroughly soaked almost up to my knees – and thoroughly told off.  It was a squelchy and slightly chagrined walk back to the car.


This, by the way, is a mermaid’s hair, caught on the rocks. I saw her as we left, more interested in the sea than in any of us.