Happy New Year to anyone who happens to read this.
I’ve been flatlining on readers by the looks of things, probably because my last blog was in October and even the most persistent of readers will probably not keep popping in to a moribund blog, although, I should mention that anyone’s welcome to plunder the archives mercilessly.
2016 is going to be the Year of Writing.
New Year’s Eve was all fine champagne and fireworks and I started 2016 as I love to do, by togging up and walking on a Welsh beach in the kind of weather that only the stupid endure.
There were high winds gusting to 35mph and rain and about 25 people on the beach at Rhossili.
As we went down the steps to the beach, a couple of wet-suited surfers were ascending with surfboards, their oval faces in the neoprene helmets cheerless and blue with cold. It must be a rite that they perform, not for fun but out of a duty, this meeting the sea head-on again to welcome another year.
The sea was magnificently turbulent, with waves smashing against rock at the head of the Worm and white surf exploding upwards 40 or 50 feet. As the surf of the rollers broke, the offshore wind caught the tops and blew fine quiffs of brine back towards the horizon. Optimistic surfers bobbed black in the water beyond the waves waiting for the good one.
Walking towards Llangennith was one thing but turning and walking back towards Rhossili was a battle against a sandstorm. I could understand why the guy ahead of us in the blue anorak was walking backwards.
I pulled my furry hat down as low as I could. Forget the view. The weather had come in and there wasn’t one. Worm’s Head had disappeared and my face was being sandblasted constantly. We trudged on until we reached the lee of the headland where there was some shelter. You could see the gusts of wind approaching by the way they racing down the beach ruffling the the pools of wet sand.
I remembered the New Year’s Day 8 years ago when my dog Roly had just died, the day before and we were dogless on the beach for the first time. Tears caught by the wind. Doglessness still has a terrible poignancy for me on that beach but I live in hope that one day, I won’t work full time and one New Year, I’ll be there with a dog tearing around joyfully, snatching bits of seaweed and shaking them, rushing at seagulls and chasing bits of flotsam thrown for him.
Other people’s dogs are always fun to watch and the beach is so big that some dogs get completely over-excited, run half a mile away from their owners and then rush around, wild-eyed and worried, looking for them.
Other dogs, failing to find their owners, who are four black blobs a mile away on the flat, sand-blown expanse of grey, yelling noiselessly into the wind, attach to whoever is convenient and trot along companiably with perfect strangers.
My second springer spaniel Gemma got deaf in her older age – I blame my whistling kettle – and obeyed hand signals if you were lucky enough to be in sight.
One time at Rhossili, she attached herself to a group of about eight adults and children at least half a mile away from us. We could see her and we could see them stopping and looking back, catching sight of me breaking into a trot to go and get her.
They encouraged her, probably saying things like “Look. You know her. She’s calling you.”
She looked in my direction, ran about thirty yards towards me, stopped and had a really good look.
“Gemma! Come here! It’s me.” I said, waggling the lead
She had another look, decided I was plainly a total stranger, and rejoined her happy little group.
Deaf *and* poor eyesight? A difficult combination. How we laughed as i got her on the lead and walked half a mile back.
and then it cleared a bit….