Exploring the littoral: On Sarah’s Birthday


“Although I am always happy to recognise that I have lived another year of my life (and there were times in the last decade when that was not always to be taken for granted), birthdays have now become a reminder of the ‘missing years’ as I now think of those years of treatment. And, I still find, I am surprised at my age, as most of those ten years seem to have simply vanished – some to treatment, some to depression. I am not ungrateful that I am still well, or for the treatment and care I received during that time, but the shadows of those days remain. The recovery was long and the impact on our lives lasted for years, for both me and Ronnie in so many ways.”

Sarah, on her birthday, 2017


I like it here, in the littoral zone. Always have. On childhood holidays the beach always had a special lure, a pull, whatever the weather. Whether it was paddling barefoot, swimming or exploring rock pools. I have always been happy in the littoral.

No surprise then to find that decades later I am still exploring rock pools and the shore, endlessly fascinated by what I can find here. One of the delights of my sea kayaking adventure is how close it brings me to nature, to the watery delights of the littoral. For my birthday weekend I am spending two days on a ‘Sea Kayak Sea Life’ course with Dr Lou Luddington (marine biologist) and Jonny Eldridge (sea kayaker and coach).


I am welcomed to my temporary home in Anglesey by my AirBnB host Caroline, staying in Menai Bridge this time.


Our group of nine meet on Saturday morning and spend some time discussing the littoral and strand line, and being in the marine environment. Lou also introduces us to her ‘top ten’ marine things, which is fascinating. She encourages us to think about our own ‘top ten’ after we’ve spent some more time exploring.

We then go down to the beach, at Porth Dafarch. Continue reading “Exploring the littoral: On Sarah’s Birthday”

Heaven in a wildflower

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

William Blake

The second of this week’s posts about our stay on Ynys Gybi, at the tip of Anglesey.

Now, even I know Anglesey’s good for wildflowers. Lots of uncultivated heathland, much of it on sandy soil and a good deal of it on cliffs us humans can’t get to. Ideal.

And then this year we’ve also had our late, slow Spring. So when we arrived in Anglesey this last Saturday it was like a party and all the wildflowers had come out to meet us. ‘Lots of them are a month late,’ the friendly woman at Anglesey Outdoors Centre where we were staying told us, ‘So they’re all here at once.’

Let’s have a look at them then, the cliffs up towards South Stack where we saw most of them, and some of the paintings Sarah did of them and the place while we were there.

And here to show us round is Sarah, who knows about wildflowers, whereas I am just the pupil.


Sarah here… with a wildflower feast!

Before we set off for Anglesey I say to a friend that I’m a little sad that we’ve not been in May, as that’s when my favourite spring flower is out – the spring squill. It is a lovely flower. It is ‘locally common on coasts of West Britain and East ireland, and scare or absent elsewhere. It grows within sight of the sea.’ (From the Collins Complete Guide to British Wild Flowers).

Imagine my delight then when we arrive in Anglesey… as soon as we walk up onto the cliff… it is covered in spring squill.

Spring squill – one of my favourite flowers.

Continue reading “Heaven in a wildflower”

To the Lighthouse (with the Lighthouse Keeper)

In June 2013, Sarah and I went to stay for a few days in one of our favourite places on earth, Anglesey. In this first post about our visit we manage to get into a place we have long admired, the South Stack Lighthouse. The post, as you will see, features a man called Gordon Medlicott, amongst the last of the Lighthouse Keepers here before all of the UK’s lighthouses were automated up to 1998.

Association of Lighthouse Keepers.
Association of Lighthouse Keepers.

In fact all lighthouses have fascinated us both for years. On our travels up and down the west coast of Britain we have always made detours to go and look at them. And I remember once when we were in Cornwall going specially to Penzance to visit the National Lighthouse Museum, only to find it had recently been closed down.

Imagine my delight then, when one Sunday in March 2014, I received an email from Gordon Medlicott, the Lighthouse Keeper featured here, saying how much he’d enjoyed the post. With Gordon’s agreement some of his words are now included at the end of the piece. After all, it’s not every day you hear from a Lighthouse Keeper!

Here in Liverpool on a grey, partly rainy Tuesday our blue, sunny weekend on Anglesey seems a world away already. But full of photographs, memories and opinions, we have lots to say about what we found, and will both be doing so in a few linked posts this week.

We stayed here, Anglesey Outdoor Centre.
We stayed here, Anglesey Outdoor Centre.

Continue reading “To the Lighthouse (with the Lighthouse Keeper)”