25 June 2012

orange things from my secret beach

a startling sunny day and a quick trip to 'my' beach. a jungle of tall gunnera leaves glow luminous against the sky. tiny shafts of light filter down through small raggedy holes. round the headland and there before me, 'my' beach. in the distance i see a silvery white glint of what looks like a boat hauled up by the rocks. i squint into the sun and try to make out the shape. i think of this beach as 'my secret beach' as in all the time i've been going there only once have i met someone. i feel slightly annoyed that there seems to be a little gathering. but i am soon drawn to the strand line- bright flashes of orange punctuate the dark tangled mass of seaweed. and i begin to collect orange things. lost in my world of crab shell orange i wander along until i hear my name called. i look up and see a friend, a strange encampment of up turned boats and people sitting round a kettle on a small fire. swathes of seaweed hang crisp and salty over oars propped between rocks. i join the group, am passed a cup of dandelion coffee and try to work things out. 

it appears a man i vaguely know has decided to rent out his flat for the summer and live on this beach with his flotilla of coracles. he is studying seaweed. i tell him about this being my secret beach and he tells me it's his too. a woman who is living on a thai island has come home to visit cornwall and 'her' secret beach and bumped into this man who is an old friend of hers. we chat and she invites me to come and stay in her cabin on a thai island. she says, 'just remind me that you met me on this beach'. so where does my friend fit in? well, as the seaweed collecting man goes to the car with the thai island lady and her daughter i'm informed that my friend is actually here on a date. but it's been interrupted by a string of people who've all come to visit 'their' secret beach. unfortunately for her time has run out and the seaweed man has had to go somewhere. i share a beautiful green salad with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, peppers and rock samphire- a romantic salad that wasn't for me. the sun is the hottest it's been for months and i've come unprepared. there's no one else around so we strip off and go for a swim- and i become aware that i'm now replacing the seaweed man on this date with my friend. the sea feels warm and amazing. at least we thought there was no one else around until we look up the beach and see three guys pulling out towels. they sit and watch us. we half swim half crawl into the shallows and then have no choice but to run for it.

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