When the sea is calling
I was brought up falling asleep to the sound of waves gently breaking on the shore. The guttural hum of bleating sheep. The sweet scent of grass and peat. Tired, cold feet hardened from days of running bare foot through the Machair and across the sands. City shoes long discarded. Summer would be spent camping by the sea.
Breakfast would be served, squeezed round a tiny table in the back of my parents’ camper van
Cereal in well used, plastic bowls with fresh milk from the croft. It would be our job to go up to Jessie and Annie’s to collect the milk. An adventure of avoiding the crazy mad cockerel, who always saw us as fair game. If spotted he would take it upon himself to chase us along the path. There would be relief if we saw Jessie first as she knew how to shoo him away. The pet cow was kept out the back of the old stone whitewashed cottage, providing fresh milk for the house and holiday people.
Breakfast done and we were up and away.
Across the Machair, the dunes parted
and a bank of deep coarse sand led down to a white sandy beach. A beach full of possibilities to the imaginative eyes of children.
Days would be spent making dams out of sand and pebbles
diverting the flow of the burn, that trickled down to the sea. Walls would be constructed in the sand to create boundaries for homes and dens as our beach tribe grew. A gathering of children each summer on the beautiful shores of the west coast of Scotland.
Rock pools would be calling
Crabs and small fish would be collected in buckets, and sloshed about, before being returned as other adventures were beckoning. Seaweed, shells, and tiny pebbles bleached by the sun, held so many possibilities for creativity in the sand.
Circumnavigating our way across slippery rocks to reach the best focal point to watch the huge breakers crashing onto high jagged cliff edges. Losing ourselves in a maze of bracken, its tendrils reaching high above us.
The fishermen would return to the camping tribe
Lobster pots filled with crab. A feast of mackerel and pollock ready to go on the smoker. We lived off the harvests from the sea. The freshest of catches grilled, smoked, and devoured.
On warmer days we would swim among the waves. Screams and laughter as the surf carried us back to shore as we rode those waves. Sometimes even the dogs would join in. Their huge paws acting as fins beneath the sea as they ‘doggy paddled’ around us. Their claws ever so sharp if they got too close.
Lunch would be a picnic of sandy crab or chicken paste sandwiches
and a packet of crisps delivered by an adult. Hunger was not on the agenda. We would be too busy immersed in our little adventures. Cross at the interruptions from the grown-up world.
Driftwood gathered for a fire to light the night sky I cannot recall being involved in the collecting of the wood. I was always too busy wrapped up in my own little imaginative world.
Long into the evenings we would sit around the open fire
Faces glowing and burning from the heat of the flames, huddled under blankets. Potatoes baked in tin foil and served with butter on those well-used much-loved plastic camping plates. Our clothes carrying the lingering smoky scent of the firewood long after the flames had died.
Finally, my little tent would be calling. As my head hit the pillow, I would drift off to sleep with the sound of those waved gently breaking on the shore again and the sheep softly bleating.
There is something so mesmerising on the beach. Watching the patterns in the sea. Listening to those huge Atlantic Rollers, as they come crashing onto the shoreline. The roar of the ocean waves.
Islay is surrounded by the most dramatic and beautiful seascapes
It is an endless source of inspiration for my work in the pottery. Each piece painted by hand. Capturing that magical beach time, the beautiful colour palette that unveils itself in the changing skies as the weather delivers endless seasons in a day.
The beach time ranges at Persabus…
Until next time…