Friday, 19 August 2016


Saturday 13th
Last weekend I could have been running at the Haddington Half, or gasping up the Pentlands, hill training. But we found ourselves, after a long week, spacing about the beach at Gullane Point and it was utterly fab.

It started, as usual, with crack caffeine from Falko's, then a  run down to the bridge at Aberlady and across the nature reserve to the beach. After some intervals (5 x 2mins) we continued back to Gullane light-headed, giddy. The sun was out and made the shells in a bay there shine and sparkle in a come hither way. I scuffed about looking for photos and Mary said she was off for a lie down; disappearing over the other side of an outcrop.

She said she was gone for some time but I didn't really notice as I had become involved with the beach jewelry. At first it all looks a bit samey. Then you pick out something that catches your eye - a shard of glass, sandblasted opaque, contrasting the red of the rock. A perfect shell. An old washer with an encrusted patina that rings like a bell.

Mary has joined in and comes over with a cluster of treasures. I line them up on rocky plinths and try out combinations and group portraits. She is bringing more and we work mostly in silence, totally absorbed and only dimly registering the passing ramblers. Our hands grow red with the oxide of the stones. Then Mary cracks one open to reveal a cartoon explosion of colours. And another. It feels wrong to frack the beach for trophies. The sun goes behind a cloud and there is a slight chill. How long have we been here? Minutes? Days?

It was like reading a book on a train, you absorb the book, no longer on a train. The journey back has fuzzy lines round the edge, like regaining your appetite after an illness, and there is a sense of relief mixed with some slight regret or maybe nostalgia for a moment when your focus was everything and nothing, all instinct and no structure. Like meditation, like playing a musical instrument until the room fades and you become the tune.

I knew today was lucky from the kick off. There are a few large sheets of ply and normally when flipped reveal little more than woodlice and spiders. Today's bounty was 2 pretty mice and a toad. (Timber was replaced slowly with care.)

fish supper

Near the subs, way out on the sand I found a corked beer bottle with a message inside. I tried to open it but managed only to bite the end of the cork off. So I had to do all the intervals with a bottle in one hand. (It seemed wrong to smash it open on the beach.)

this shell has painted a picture of the beach in it's left lobe

Having spent an extra hour on the beach neither of us felt very inclined to get the wetsuits out and go for a dip. We headed home via Tesco's, both feeling very much like we had recharged our mental batteries.

The message in the bottle was a bit of a disappointment. I hoped it would have sailed the 7 seas for decades but from the date, looks like it was written the day before. Also it got a bit wet. Either the bottle was not empty or some sea got in. If anyone can make something of this (is it Polish?) then do let me know. Not quite the treasure map we were hoping for! Other than that, a magical day out.


  1. Think that is the Slovak coat of arms (although Slovenska looks more like Slovenia). A guess would be that the sender's current location is slightly west of Roslin/Bilston given the left page of the message.

    Like the beach finds and the mice are fab. Our cabin at Gairloch was on the toad nighttime superhighway, but I only got blurry pics due to too many beers (to help with sleep, on account of sweltering heat and midges preventing us from opening the windows).

  2. Wow Nick - you get maximum Sherlock points for that deduction. Suspect the Slovenians/Slovakians would be surprised to get their bottle back so quickly.

    Haha love the reasoning for being obliged to drink beers!

  3. I'm afraid (for my running's sake) that I am full of marvellous excuses for drinking beer...