A Long Island

Its that few days between Christmas and the New Year when life slows down and you slip into a nether world of not knowing what day it is. I’ve been to Long Island before, about a mile long, only 5 people living there now but once it had three hundred and a school and that before engines and cars and phones. John, our charming neighbour has a twenty foot punt with a seagull engine at the back. He’ll take us over. Not today as the tide is low and the boat is way up the strand. Tomorrow – yes fine – 11 is good – see you at the pier.

Don’t Pay the Ferryman!

We board after Zoe the labrador across a mirror like sound, John’s voice weaving stories above the drone of the engine. We are left at the Easternway pier, three hours to kill. We make it to the milk bottle point through mud and over walls. Its New Years Day and we can’t quite believe that its 12 degrees and there are heron rising and cormorants launching into the surf off the black black rocks.

Fishing takes patience and stillness

We make our way back to the pier and strike west for the other end. We stop outside a house to photograph a fish crafted out of stone. The dog of the house inspects us and finding we are okay, he leads off ahead of us. The deserted, lonesome, winding road is flanked by low walls full of the colour of lichen and white stones and grey shades and shapes etched by the changing weather, the dog’s rear end trotting gleefully ahead of us . He leads us straight down to a beach where he waits for a stick to be thrown, communicating this to us so quickly and effectively that we are in his thrall immediately. He has a tendency to growl in the midst of his play and he is highly protective and alert to dogs that attempt to come down on the beach at the same time as us. This is no domesticated mutt that needs his poo picked up by his owner. He is all dog and nature and instinct unleashed on the world.

The sun comes out and the odd neighbour – they are all odd here- remarks how remarkable it is for a new years day and its a good thing we didn’t try to come out tomorrow as its to rain. We rendevous at the pier and have a wait for our ferryman. I sit on the ground relishing the last moments of our island escape. The dog – Kerry – nuzzles my hand, hungry for affection and leans against me. The wild nature craves the loving touch same as the rest of us.

John arrives at the pier in an ancient renault 5 with Billy, one of the 5 residents. He will get his daily dozen by walking back to the western end.

As we round the pier Kerry frantically runs down the steps, looking like he will jump in after us. Then he stands and barks until we are out of hearing.

Sands of Time

The sun enticed me to the beach today.

A privilege of country living is being able to capture moments like this. The rippling of the waves brings peace.

I thought of Keats’ wonderful lines:

Oh, ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired, 
    Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea; 
        Oh ye! whose ears are dinned with uproar rude, 
    Or fed too much with cloying melody— 
        Sit ye near some old Cavern’s Mouth and brood, 
Until ye start, as if the sea nymphs quired! 

Nature has a powerful way of allowing you to connect with yourself and what is really going on inside.

Now I didn’t come across any sea nymphs or anything but I thought of my sister who left us four years ago on this day. The sea still comes in and out and always will long after we are gone. It leaves marks on the sand that are gone the next time the tide comes in. I suppose this is what they mean by the sands of time. Always shifting but never disappearing. When someone you love is taken away, other things you love still remain such as the sea, sun and fresh air.

I thought of Neptune the God of the Sea – even he cannot hold the tide back. Last night I went to see the Justice League, a movie featuring Superheroes where there was an awesome pale blue eyed Neptune, complete with Trident. He managed to hold back a few floods in order to ‘save the world’ but even he was pushed back eventually.

I have a metaphor for my efforts to change my career. Its from Castaway with Tom Hanks. There is a coral reef about 200 metres out from the beach that he has to get past before he can paddle out into the wide ocean. The waves break on it continually and he has wounded himself on the sharp coral many times. He spends his days devising methods to get himself past the reef, designing rafts and failing time and again. Eventually he uses an old piece of corrugated plastic that washed up on the beach and puts a makeshift sail on it. The wind in the sail gives him enough momentum to get beyond the reef, allowing him to journey back to civilisation.

The wind in my sails has been my friends offering me a country retreat while I paddle past the rocks of convention so I can start forging a new way of life.

It has been exciting so far but I hope I don’t have to get picked up by a liner in order to make it wherever I am going. I am going ahead with a mind ‘open to everything and attached to nothing’ – thank you Wayne Dyer.


Not  exactly a Coral Reef but what sun on a Winter’s day.


Patterns left from the ebb and flow of the sea.


Bright winter sunshine on the wet sand.