It’s a significant birthday today. Not one with a 0 in but important in a different way. My parents were both the age I am now when they died. There is no genetic or familial map for me to follow from here. Overnight a schoolfriend offered me the sage advice to take each day as it comes and enjoy every single one. I plan to do that with every day, every year and every decade that I can inhabit.The pandemic will ensure that each of those date milestones is different to how we imagined.
Connie the Caterpillar came with us on a coastal walk yesterday . We celebrated early with cake and a flask of tea using the millstones as a table at an ancient coastal mill on the South West Coastal path.
The size of our flask led other walkers to assume we had set up an impromptu and in these times , illegal cafe. Unfortunately the size of the flask also encouraged too much tea drinking and we had to scamper back to the loo which ended a breezy coastal walk.
The setting sun caught the birthday confetti, just before we gathered it up to use again on future birthdays.
The positivity of aloneliness, a very different thing from loneliness. A love of aloneliness does not protect from loneliness. Like many things my love of aloneliness is an accident of birth. Not mine exactly, more the non birth of any subsequent siblings. My mother was an ardent provider of contraception to the women of Essex in the sixties, seventies and beyond. “To make a mistake once is acceptable, twice is a mistake; three times is stupidity” was her mantra. Her child bearing stopped at acceptable and I was set on a path of embracing aloneliness.
Before life started dealing me tough stuff I would glibly have said that I didn’t suffer from loneliness. In truth I think I had just adapted and learned to enjoy aloneliness. Which is a very different creature from the bone grinding, mind numbing loneliness that can appear in anyone’s life.
The Pandemic of 2020 has given everyone a little more time to think and evaluate all sorts of stuff. Sadly it has also created far more loneliness.
I’m unsure where aloneliness bleeds into selfishness. For the purposes of this blog my own definition is this. I can be quite content on my own and I often enjoy the experience ( Who wouldn’t enjoy having a swimming pool to themselves)
I do manipulate circumstances to create aloneliness. This morning, for example, I chose to walk on a beach after the before-work walkers/swimmers and before the regular every day walkers/swimmers. The images in this blog of Wembury Beach are an illustration of fabulous aloneliness. Nothing about this is selfish because I didn’t chose to deliberately exclude other people, I just gave myself the best chance of being alone. Having a private beach would be outrageous selfishness.
Even writing this has made me realise that the familiar trope that ‘only’ children are selfish is more utter nonsense than I already thought it was. I’m sure some are, but it is more likely that they have just adapted positively to a situation way beyond their own control.
Having the beach to myself allowed this blog to be written. The dogs are away having their regular wash and brush up, which is why these pictures do not feature dog bottoms. Just to prove I really do love other people, here is the beach as it was just one hour later. This too makes me very happy.
Finally, every artist loves a bit of red in a seascape, thanks Mr Turner and thanks to the man in a red jacket.
A vision of the Mewstone means that @theoldmortuary it is dog grooming day. Now we are addicted to sea swimming it no longer means coastal path walks and coffee. It means 2 hours of swimming without dogs waiting not so patiently for us on the beach. Serendipity is a funny thing, when I was doing training at The Box, mentioned in Pandemic Pondering #220 I met a woman who had lived close to us in London, we discovered this when she commented on my tote bag.
In London we lived 2 miles apart, in Devon/ Cornwall 13 miles divides us. We met for the first time last Thursday and today by complete co incidence we sat next to each other on the beach at Wembury. Tomorrow despite neither of us wishing to work at The Box on a Tuesday we find ourselves both rota’d to do our first days work, in the new museum and art gallery, as you read this blog. It seems we were destined to meet somehow. Luckily neither of us were hiding behind the ubiquitous British windbreak. Less about protecting from the wind and more about defining territory I often think.
This picture is from a previous visit to Wembury when a cup of tea overlooking the sea was just every day life. Wembury was my destination yesterday. Hugo and Lola needed their regular hair cut at their dog groomers. https://www.nataliesdoggrooming.co.uk/
Wembury is a regular visit for this exact reason.
The hours between dirty dog delivery and pampered pooch collection are spent doing Plymouth based jobs or enjoying the beach or coast. The charity shops of Modbury are also an irregular treat.
The beauty of Wembury beach is the sand. It doesn’t cling so even freshly clean dogs come off as clean as they went on it.
These shots make it look like we were the only people there. Nothing could be further from the truth, I would like to say we are really good at socially isolating but I think I just got lucky with photographs. It was pretty chilly so many people were hunkered down against the rocks with flasks of coffee. The coast path was probably very busy but that involves mud and we don’t do mud on grooming days. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
The National Trust giving free access to much of their land during the pandemic is very generous and public spirited . The car park was as full as on a hot summers day. Even after only 5 days of keeping ourselves isolated fresh air and a walk was like drinking fresh lemonade.