Living within reach of inumerable beaches is alluring to say the least. When Donne wrote “teach me to hear mermaids singing” in his poem ‘Song’ about the sliding scale of honesty in women.. he probably wasn’t in as sublime a mood as that of the coast above, in Ayr near Girvan.
Tides govern access to the sea and regulate the work of many, and are said to affect our moods through the influence of their mover and shaker – the moon. Here on a recent trip to the Island of Seil (foreground, near Oban) we woke one morning to find that a storm-driven tide had washed away a 20m length of solid slate sea wall adjacent to the harbour of the neighbouring tiny island, Easdale, offshore. The occupants were still stranded when we left.
On a wonderful bright windy day at St.Abb’s Head in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders, we happened on a seal pup seemingly caught in a rock pool, in choppy waters stirred by strong tides. After many moving moments watching this very game, very large pup attempt to escape into open water..we heard and saw two adults playing nearby – completely unconcerned – for all the world as though they had parked the pup at a toddlers creche.
Dumfries and Galloway has had to deal with more than it’s fair share of tide-propelled floodwater in the last few months; often exceeding the usual predictable boundaries. Driving became a little like playing russian roulette. I’m still surprised that petrol-stations didn’t take advantage of the situation to sell waders and water-wings.
Along the Dee estuary in Kirkcudbright – the swirling floodwater met the sea and created its own tiny whirlpool – perhaps jealous of all the media attention directed elsewhere. Something of a let-down after listening to tales of the Corryveckan in the wind-lashed north.
Down here in the south of Scotland we are less often stranded by the tides .. even if they do race in “at the speed of a galloping horse”.. as I’m often warned. Even we must keep one eye on the tide at all times – whatever we might find in a Carrick Shore rock-pool.. or
We might find ourselves.. silly cows.. up to our oxters in alluringly blue, but dangerously deep waters.