Sarah goes sea kayaking: Four days that weren’t

The latest of Sarah’s sea kayaking posts. This one a gentle meditation on life and death. “A reminder that life doesn’t always go as planned, especially when we are living with nature, tides, and the natural cycles of life and death. This I know,” says Sarah, whose younger sister has just died.

*

Anglesey May_24

For several weeks now I have been looking forward to May, because May is such a beautiful month and I love the increasing light, the long evenings, the shift in the season to almost summer, the growth, the fresh green, in fact just everything about May is a delight. And I also have the prospect of four days ‘on the water’ to look forward to as well.

For my latest sea kayaking trip I am staying at Ty Cert near Rhoscolyn on Anglesey. It is a barn conversion next to this disused chapel, which is currently being converted into a tearoom and gallery.

Anglesey May_01

My room has its own outside area, a ‘kitchenette’, and bathroom. Cosy and compact.

Anglesey May_02

Anglesey May_03

It also has a graveyard through the blue gate, and a shared garden. It’s perfectly lovely.

Anglesey May_08

Breakfast is had, but the kayak won’t be going out today.

Anglesey May_04

Just before I left for Anglesey I received the news that my younger sister, Karen, has died suddenly and unexpectedly, age 52.

Anglesey May_06

I am reminded of Karen as she was responsible for weaning me onto Marmite, which has become a lifelong taste I love. I feel sad today, and don’t feel up for being in a group of kayakers, so decide to spend the day alone.

Anglesey May_07

I head up to South Stack, to walk from there to North Stack, thinking I will come back again – so not quite a circular walk, more a ‘there and back again’ walk.

Anglesey May_12

The squill is in profusion, as it is here during May.

Anglesey May_13

I walk the coastal path

My first view of North Stack. Me and James kayaked to here – from the Holyhead direction – in March. The tide was flooding, coming towards us and we couldn’t get through that gap between North Stack and the cliffs – looks so different today.

Anglesey May_21

Looking back to South Stack.

Anglesey May_22

I continue down the cliff to the fog signal station, and have an explore.

Anglesey May_31

And I carry on along  to the cliff path to the country park. A fellow walker has suggested I do this, rather than walk back to South Stack – where my car is, and that I can ‘just get a taxi’.

Anglesey May_32

Arriving at the country park, the gates are similar to those at Llandwynn.

Anglesey May_36

This is a photograph of the country park – it’s in the open air gallery that is housed in the old brickworks buildings. It’s obviously the site of an old quarry.

Anglesey May_37

From Wikipedia:

The Holyhead Breakwater Country Park was opened in 1990 and is situated on the site of an old quarry which supplied stone for the 2.39km (1.5 miles) Holyhead Breakwater, the longest in Europe, which was built between 1846 and 1873. Part of the park is situated within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Anglesey May_38

It’s looking pretty quiet now, and no sign of a taxi!

This is the brickworks building, with a lovely brick step.

Anglesey May_41

Anglesey May_42

Walking from here along the path which is signposted ‘Holyhead’, I find myself arriving at a housing estate. I ring several taxis who won’t come ‘out there’ to pick me up, all the way to Llaingoch. I feel unwelcome and lost. By now I’m tired, hungry and strangely emotional, it’s been an odd day reflecting on the loss of a younger sibling, and thinking also of my father who has been dead nearly 20 years. I walk to a main(ish) road, wondering if I might catch a bus, and spot a general store which is open. I go in and tell them about my taxi predicament, maybe I come across as overly emotional, this feeling of being a ‘stranger’. But the very helpful woman behind the counter picks up the phone to ring a local taxi for me. Just as she is doing so a regular customer comes in, and offers to give me a lift. I buy an ice cream and am taken up to South Stack by the customer. I am hugely grateful, the kindness of strangers. He drops me up at South Stack, and I get in my car and immediately burst into tears. It’s been that sort of day.

The next day, Sunday, I am going out on the water with Helen Mason.

Anglesey May_43

I’m spending four days with Helen in Mull in June, so it’s good for us to have some time together. We leave from Cemaes, on the north coast, and turn left.

Anglesey May_44

Anglesey May_45

Anglesey May_46

Anglesey May_47

Although it looks deceptively peaceful on these photographs, it is actually quite a windy day. So we’ve spent time going through the very important exercises of learning what the boat does in wind, and – more importantly – how to turn the boat in wind.

Anglesey May_48

We do more exercises on sweep strokes in the calmer waters in bays and under cliffs, and stop here for our lunch. Although you wouldn’t know from the photo, the Wylfa nuclear power station is just beyond the hill.

Anglesey May_50

Anglesey May_49

After lunch we head back, the wind is picking up considerably.

Anglesey May_51

Anglesey May_52

We find a quiet spot in Cemaes, and it’s time for some jumping in and out of the boats!

Anglesey May_56A good day, and just what I needed.

I know that the forecast for the next couple of days is VERY windy… it seems so settled today, breezy but not about to be a storm.

But it is…

Anglesey May_57

The next day at Borth Wen, down at the nearest beach to Rhoscolyn. It’s Force 7.

My two days with James have been ‘rescheduled’, I don’t think anyone will be out in a kayak in these seas. I walk up the cliffs for about a mile and watch the sea, it’s a mighty beast.

Anglesey May_66

Anglesey May_67

Lots of seaweed washed up from the depths. And lots of these sac-like structures – I have no idea what they are.

Anglesey May_65

I’ve been to this beach before, and I always notice that it has masses of shells, and in particular, periwinkles. They look like jewels.

Anglesey May_64

Anglesey May_63

And time to head back to Ty Cert, to pack up.

Anglesey May_68

And back to Liverpool. So four days ‘on the water’, that in fact was only one – but it was a good day. And my trip away was also a reminder that life doesn’t always go as planned, especially when we are living with nature, tides, and the natural cycles of life and death. This I know.

Read all of Sarah’s sea kayaking posts here.

5 thoughts on “Sarah goes sea kayaking: Four days that weren’t

  1. Maggie Wallace

    Dear Sarah, my condolences to you. I’m glad you had at least one day on the water, and looks like you had some enjoyment on the 2 days you lost to the gales. Best wishes from Aigburth.

    Reply
  2. hirstsj

    Life is fragile, and unfair, but I am glad you were able to see the beauty in it despite your great loss. Thanks again for sharing the experience.

    Reply
  3. memoirsofahusk

    I haven’t met you, Sarah, but you have an eye for things I like to see. I am so sorry about your sister. Words can’t make it better, I know, but as a reader I feel for you and hope that empathy helps even a little. My husband’s beautiful sister died recently, suddenly and we know how hard it is. My sincere condolences to you.

    Reply

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s