Day 53

Great Eye, a lump of clay and sand, is dissolving a little more with each storm tide. It used to be further inland, less exposed to the direct action of sea. For a while it was the site of a folly building, which then became a coast guard rocket house, before the foundations and brickwork succumbed to the tides.

Random sections of old brickwork still exist, but they lie down the beach, edging toward the sea. The mortar still holds, but is gradually thinning. The red bricks have long since become smoothed and rounded off at their extremes. The sea has a way of rounding everything off, smoothing things out with its steady soothing motions.

I picked up several pebbles on the shore this afternoon, I kept hold of four: a black, flat ellipse of granite; another egg-shaped disc, closer to ivory than stone; a tiger-striped orange and brown disc, roughly the size of a 50 pence piece; a deep red pebble the size of my thumbnail.

I dropped a fifth stone accidentally when examining a dead green crab that had acted as host to several barnacles on its shell. This pebble was almost see-through and small enough to set in a ring for a little finger.

The granite disc fits perfectly into my right palm. I can close my hand fully around it. It warms in my grasp.

The red pebble gains a shine easily.

The tiger stone and its pallid twin lose their lustre once dry, but retain their physical integrity. The tiger stone is distinct enough to become a reminder of these days, walking this coastline during unusual times.

I was going to write about the sand martins here too. They are busy at Great Eye today. I will visit them again soon.

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Christopher Perry

9th May, 2020

January Road Trip (XXII)

Wemyss Bay terminus

For rail, but not yet for us

Rothesay ferry waits

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n.b. Cared for by the Friends of Wemyss Bay Station, (operated by the local private railway company), this architectural delight, in tune with the main concourse at Glasgow Central, was built to funnel train passengers down to the waterside for the ferries to holiday isles in the west of Scotland. Not so popular destinations now, but the railway station is ready and waiting to serve if called on again.

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If you get yourself to Wemyss Bay make sure to leave time to nip into The Station Bar. However, the ferry schedule, or sea conditions may give you no option but to hole up for a wee while in the cosy bar, (or adjoining Station Café, or even the second-hand bookshop – when open).

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CLP 26/01/2020

January Road Trip (XIX)

‘Vital Spark’ alongside at Inverary

Not many years past

Since traders relied on boats

Jim called them rockhoppers

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n.b. Jimmy Smith, my shipmate during my time working on cross-Channel ferries in 1980, spent some years as a cook on a boat, not unlike the ‘Vital Spark’, travelling from harbour to harbour around the north of Britain.

The cargo changed depending on what needed moving between quays; roads then were more difficult to negotiate, the sea was the main highway.

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CLP 25/01/2020