Friday, July 29, 2011

Haiku for the week

Salt air and seaweed,
A cry of far-off childhood
In the sound of gulls.

I am visiting the seaside in China, for the first time in 5 or 6 years. Indeed, I haven't looked upon the sea anywhere since I last walked on the beach at Portobello in Edinburgh almost 2 years ago.

I miss it very profoundly. When I was a boy, I spent most of my summer holidays at the seaside, down in the south-west of England. My German grandmother used to live in the little south Devon fishing town of Brixham, overlooking Torbay, and summers spent there with her - when I was only 2, 3, 4 years old - comprise most of my very earliest memories. Later, family camping holidays were always based down in Somerset, just outside a tiny village called Withypool, far inland; but they always included a few expeditions to the coast, mostly north to Porlock. And then, when I started university, my parents went to live down there for a while, at Lynton, on the north Devon coast - just a few minutes walk away from the spectacular Valley of the Rocks, and the steeply winding path down to the secluded Wringcliff Bay, a small rocky beach that was seldom visited by anyone other than me.

I love the ozone-laced air and the tang of brine in my nostrils. And I love staring at the sea - the vastness of it at once terrifying and yet supremely serene. I can stare at the sea, alone, unstirring, with scarcely a thought in my head (not a verbalised one, anyway), for hours at a time: it's wonderfully conducive to relaxation, meditation. I miss that. If I don't get to do it at least once every year or two, I find myself going a little crazy.

I hope I'm going to have a chance to do it over this weekend. However, since I am visiting friends, and since it is an unfamiliar place I am going to, and a very large city, at that (Brixham, population 18,000; Dalian, population 6 million!), I fear the opportunities may be limited. I shall do my best. I have a lot of craziness to flush out of my head at the moment.

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