I have been blathering away to myself, for quite a long time now, about trying to produce a larger piece of writing, maybe even a book. I realise that if I don’t do it now it will never happen. Of course, it probably wont happen anyway. More than likely I will get bogged down in the usual feelings of shifting perspectives and fractal complexity that tend to assail me whenever I try to focus on a specific objective. But at least I will have tried, and the next time the thought; ‘it would be fun to write a book’ occurs to me I will be able to say, ‘remember, you tried that once and couldn’t do it’, so shut up and get on with something useful’.
So I intend to try. I don’t know what the usual or best approach is, but, given a rough direction, I intend to just start to write and simply see what happens. Sometimes thoughts breed thoughts in a way that makes planning too far ahead pointless.
So, I have put the first draft of a few paragraphs below, as a merest toe in the water and indication of intent! I may occasionally add little bits as things go along, if they go along, as I feel it will help me to put something ‘out there’. If anybody reads this and has comments, please feel free!
The rockpool is about a metre long, half metre wide and thirty centimetres deep. A small depression in dark rock lying at the eastern end of a small sandy bay on the north Pembrokeshire coast. I have arrived at nearly the lowest point of a low Spring tide. The sea is less than a meter above what is known to sailors as LAT or the ‘lowest astronomical tide’ and at such a tide much more foreshore is accessible than is usually the case.
It is cold and grey. The sea is rough from a recent storm, and a residual swell is washing round the headland that defines this side of the bay. Despite this cold greyness I can already feel the calming and soothing effect of this place working on me.
I have been visiting this Bay, and the particular area around this rockpool for a year or so now. I started coming here as part of a citizen science project designed to monitor species of shore life, but unfortunately, despite having worked in science for many years I found I lacked the discipline to do the science properly. I could not focus. So, instead of conducting proper timed searches I just potter about seeing what I can find and thinking and dreaming about the sort of things being near the sea makes you think and dream about.
There is much to inspire here. In terms of the wildlife alone it can feel like living inside one of those iconic ladybird books of the 1950s and 60s. A new edition maybe; ‘What to look for in Pembrokeshire’ whose cover would show an anemone filled rock pool and behind which dolphins would swim in a blue sea whith black fingered, red beaked Choughs displaying above. In these days of constant reporting of ecological disaster, I am drawn to this place as an iron filing to a magnet.
But it is not just the wildlife. The folded cliffs and the rocky outcrops that crest the nearby Preseli hills speak of geological drama and even the night sky appears clearer than usual, revealing worlds beyond.
Just wandering and experiencing is enjoyable here. Walking along the cliffs, or on the hills, is often dramatically beautiful. There is a quality to the light which, combined with the juxtaposition of sea, cliffs and hills produces something which is nearly always special and sometimes feels transformational.
Unfortunately, for me, it is never quite enough to just be in a place and enjoy it. I always want to do something more with it. Sometimes it is just to use it as inspiration for trying to paint or draw, or write poetry, but more often it acts as a spur to think about what I suppose might be thought of as the bigger questions of life, science and philosophy.
And so today I am sat here, on these rocks looking out to sea, with a coffee in hand wondering where to start.
But then I realise, it doesn’t matter too much where one starts. It is all connected. The sea is boundless. Wherever you jump in is, in some sense, the same as everywhere else. So, as I am in the fortunate position of having no plan to work to, no deadline and no one to please, I will probably just wander and see what turns up.