It’s Written in the Literature
I began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work and human relationships… My situation had, in certain ways, more freedom than that of most people, and in certain other ways, much less.
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
When I was pondering the shape this blog should take, it wasn’t to other blogs that I turned but to my friends, the books. My reading for pleasure over the past year has been almost solely confined to sailing – mostly circumnavigations by people made of different stuff: Bernard Moitessier, Joshua Slocum and Tania Aebi to name a few. I thought about the writer’s like Dervla Murphy, who have carried me with them on their bicycles, writers like Laurie Lee with whom I walked out one midsummer morning through England and into Franco’s Spain, while managing to co-exist in a boiling high school classroom.
Recently I’ve been listening late at night to The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert MacFarlane. One moment we’re on an ancient pathway then I wake up to find I’m with him on a boat. Roger Deakin (‘I went to Wales because the place was stiff with magic’) would be right at home adding the chilly Derwent to his Waterlog but wild swimming is not entering into my plans. I like to stay warm. My favourite kayaking companion has always been the enigmatic imposter, Grey Owl, back when you could truly lose yourself (and your identity) in the Canadian wilds. And more recently I’ve also read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, about the walk she did down the Pacific Coast Trail after her mother died.
I’m no writer, no adventurer. I read, I holiday, I work with people whose memory and bodies are failing them. They are losing their history, grieving the loss of themselves and everything they hold dear. Around me there are beaches. I have two dogs for whom a stretch of sand and a cold current represent the penultimate adventure. I have a helpful geologist who knows his vegetation too. I have feet, a bicycle, a kayak and a yacht.
But reading about grander adventures is inspiring. It occurred to me that down in the depths of the oceanic web I could start a modest blog so that I can scribble a little, fiddle about on beaches, mess about in boats, think as I cycle, sense the earth beneath my feet, carry dreams on my wake and reflect on memories as I peer into rockpools. In trying to shrug off the notion that only great adventures matter I thought again about getting to know the beaches and coastlines and in so doing discover the nature of the world we’re fast rubbing out before loss becomes our nightmare and our sorrow, and the beaches disappear insufficiently recorded.