I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
Sea Fever, John Masefield
I’ve just spent a few days on the Suffolk coast, and I feel like I’m beginning to return to myself a little bit. I think the sheer amount of daylight flooding into my body is what it was craving. Of course, it rained almost constantly every day bar one, when it was weirdly misty. But that’s the coast – a law unto itself.
When I first moved to London it spooked me a bit how little weather there was, how still the air was, how dry and non-rainy a city it is, how soft and lacking in extremes, how small the sky is. Now I’m used to it. But my body was nurtured by the sea, and when I’m there, it comes into its own.
I grew up by the sea and I miss it.
A couple of weeks ago, I was working through a set of exercises to work out your skills and interests. One of the sets of questions was about where you’re most happy. I wrote:
a spacious place
where I can meet new people
a cultural hub
with good transport links (it’s still all about the buses for me!)
preferably by the sea
There’s space by the sea. I don’t know if you’ve ever clocked this, but have you noticed the way the light changes as you approach the coast? It’s brighter somehow, even on a dull day, and much more expansive. I see the light and the sky and then the sea inevitably bursts out in front of me. I suppose the water, even when it’s brown and uninspiring-looking, acts as a giant light reflector. The air is constantly moving by the sea, and the weather is unpredictable, so you either have to be very prepared, or hardy.
On our last day, we walked an epic six mile walk along a shingle beach (good for the thighs), and then back through Britain’s largest reed bed, a large golden marsh. All in the rain. I’m not as hardy as I was, but my beach legs soon come back. Rain and sea and daylight and wind and salty air are the stuff I am made of.