Weeks of restrictions on our movements have affected us all. Not far from my home town in Dorset is one of the main cruising ports in the UK, Southampton. It is capable of receiving the largest of passenger ships. They navigate the Solent Channel between the mainland and the Isle of Wight to reach the base at Southampton Docks.
During the Pandemic, these ships have laid empty except for the crew who maintain the essential systems. For several weeks, three of the ships have been anchored off the beach in Bournemouth Bay until their services are required once again.
The rise and fall of the tide in this area causes Poole Harbour to dry out at times, allowing people to walk across the wet sand and collect worms and other sea material. Kite surfing is a popular hobby giving spectators a colourful background.
Our local airport is a gateway for carriers such as Ryanair and TUI taking passengers to reasonably close destinations in Europe and private aircraft. It is unusual to see jumbo planes sitting on the tarmac but with the grounding of so many flights internationally, some of British Airways planes are parked for storage in Bournemouth.
Before things start to get back to normal (or as we are told ‘the new normal’) I decided to drive by to see what the fuss is about.
Well, it is impressive to see these planes crammed in to our little airport and I had the added bonus of watching the NHS delivery plane take off.
The enforced time at home and in nearby open spaces should have dragged but goodness, the 1st day of June has arrived quickly. Maybe the time spent exercising outside has eroded more hours of my days than the spin class at the gym or maintaining communications with friends and family through online tools has resulted in more frequent contact: lengthy conversations as we try to compensate for hugs and the joy of presence.
On these hot weekends, daily exercise along the beach can feel like being in a pinball machine, trying to avoid social contact of less than 2 metres, so we go for a walk as the sun lowers for the night. The water is shallow in Poole Harbour and when the tide is out, it is possible to walk a long distance before sinking in to one of the channels. This adult and child enjoyed their evening stroll, making the most of the quiet waters of Lockdown.
For a change, we left the beach and drove 20 minutes to take our exercise in the beautiful New Forest.
New life abounds in this national park with foals, calves, goslings, and baby donkeys. This new foal tested his hoofs in the water of the pond and then rushed to his mother for a little nourishment.
My granddaughter is not quite 3 and was mesmerised by activity of the newborn animals.
Located inland from the south coast beaches of Bournemouth, The New Forest was land covered in woodland until greedy kings of the past decided to harvest the wood to build their ships. Some wood remains alongside open land, all protected by law.
Famous for the New Forest Ponies that roam freely to graze on the land, it is a draw for families, campers, walkers, cyclists, tourists and locals who come together to enjoy its beauty.
The media report overcrowded beaches and poor social distancing in Bournemouth and Poole but my experience contradicts this observation.
There is the odd group of youngsters who clearly are not part of the same household and they gathered on the beach in their small groups but, in the main, they keep their distance from others.
The promenade is a busy roadway for bikes and pedestrians but it is possible to step down on to the sand and find plenty of space to observe the 2 m rule. I love to ride my bike along the promenade however I do not agree that bikes should be free to dominate the path and to play dodgems with pedestrians. Many times, I have wished the authorities would ban all wheeled vehicles, be they bikes, skateboards, cars, etc and avoid the risk of collision with the children, dogs, elderly etc.
These moss covered rocks gave the appearance of green hills erupting from the sand. One step up could be a dangerous decision as the moss acts like ice on a ski slope and I have witnessed the fall of a few unsuspecting victims.
Poole Harbour is one of the busiest natural harbours on the UK’s south coast with constant traffic of leisure boats, pleasure boats and continental transport.
Lockdown has brought peace to the waterway and last night we decided to take our daily exercise at sunset so that we could appreciate its beauty. The harbour is too big to walk around within the allocated exercise time but a three mile round trip allowed us some fantastic and rare views of the quiet body of water.
In the first photo, you can see the narrow strip of land that leads to the peninsula of Sandbanks. Behind the buildings is a fantastic stretch of sandy beach. The lucky residents have views over the harbour to one side and over the beach and bay to the other.
Standing in front of the buildings above on the harbour side, we look towards the old quayside town of Poole.
Even though travel abroad will be restricted for some time, we are lucky to have some beautiful natural landscape to enjoy close to home.
This is a piece of prose I am constructing for a writers’ group. The topic is pollution.
In November 1999
the ocean extended to the horizon.
From our bow, we saw
an endless bath
on which our vessel bobbed.
Climbing one watery hill
skiing down the other side.
Driven by the wind
towards the tropical islands
with exotic names
and white sandy beaches.
Midway the power of the wind
became a gentle whiff.
We were becalmed, drifting
as we awaited a change in pressure.
Let’s go for a swim, he suggested
and in I dove
to water that caressed my body like silk
and so clear I watched my toes wiggle.
I thought that I was in the purest place on the earth
in those days before our oceans became soiled.
The plastic was probably already drifting
causing death and destruction to our precious planet
suffocating the residents so that the ocean became a watery grave.
Another ocean crossing in 2019
on a ship that towers above the waves
and I look down on specs floating by.
Rubbish created by humans
that scar the blue pond.
Filed under poetry, prose
This is a short story I am working on. It is not finished but please feel free to comment.
In the middle of the ocean, the stars shine bright and the blue water takes on shades of purple, red and black. The hull slaps on the slopes of watery hills formed by the waves. At 38, Alice is the youngest of three crew, and the least experienced, nonetheless she takes responsibility for the yacht on her shifts of the rota. Each night, when the sun disappears behind the horizon, she stills the quivers in her stomach before reminding herself of the alternative. Her colleagues will be at their desks making relentless phone calls in the hope of hooking a deal. Survival and safety are her targets now.
Orion’s belt glows above and she uses it as the base from which to practise her knowledge, working to all sides and reciting the names of the constellations and planets in a whisper; she does not want to disturb the others. Fred is stretched out in the main cabin, on call he says but unlikely to wake unless thunder shakes the ship. Now that the night is set, the peace calms her fears, the wind strokes her face and its air fills her lungs.
It has been 10 days since they last encountered another ship – a tanker crept up behind, nearly running them over before gliding by to fade into the mist – and they were too far from land for wildlife. A seagull had hitched a lift but fled on day 3 and the dolphins had played for a few days but she had not seen a pod this week.
A sail flaps and Alice leaps to tighten the sheet. The wind is changing. She shivers and reaches for her fleece as she scans the skies. The stars have vanished. Should she wake Fred? Shorten the sail? Close the hatches? Or should she observe a little longer?
I am delighted to announce that the lovely writer Rita Chapman interviewed me for her guest author spot. Rita originates from the UK and now lives in Australia and has a love of travel. She has written several romantic travel books in addition to a crime mystery and a horse lover tale. Click on the links below to see my interview and to find out more about Rita.