Losing Land……Stormy Weather……The Goat of Covid….

by Bernie Bell - 10:20 on 23 February 2024

Losing Land……

In ‘Waterlog’ – Chapter 16 – ‘Extinction’ – Roger Deakin writes…

“I swam the length of Benacre Broad at Covehithe a few miles up the coast the other side of Southwold.  It is a salty fresh-water lagoon separated from the sea by a low spit of sand and shingle beach, and its days are numbered.”

Its days were numbered – the last time we went to Benacre Broad, the sea had breached the spit of land and the Broad had drained  - it was just a muddy dip in the land.

Roger Deakin mentions that …

“…the bleached skeleton of a single tree stood defiantly in the middle of the sands.”


That skeleton tree had stood there all the years we’d gone for walks there, but the breach and therefore the shifting of the sand and shingle meant that it was nearly buried.

Roger then goes on to elaborate on how that stretch of coast is simply falling into the sea, year by year.  He describes crops in nearby fields ending up on the beach, or sticking out of the top of the cliff –  I remember seeing exactly that – and also seeing a tarmac road ending, abruptly, at a cliff edge.

We often walked at Dunwich…..


…and when we first walked there, along near the old Priory, we walked through a small piece of woodland which used to be part of the cemetery. There was a headstone of a man buried in 17??  to our right, about 30/40 feet back from the path. Gradually, the cliff to the left advanced and so the path got nearer to the headstone. Then, one time we went there the path had been moved and the headstone was now on the left of the path. Eventually it disappeared and the man’s bones, presumably, went onto the beach and then into the sea as many had done before him.  

When we walked on the beach there Ben-The-Dog would find bones, play with them, throw them about, chew on them. Maybe some of them were from people – who knows – maybe Ben could tell the difference – but to him, bones were bones and good fun, who or whatever they had come from!

It's 17 years since we left Suffolk, more of that stretch of coast has probably been lost since.

Something similar is happening around the edges of Orkney  – I wrote of that, here…



Roger Deakin observes that Richard Mabey…

“…has a sense of the way this shifting coastline may work on the mind” and quotes him, thus…

”I sometime wondered if the closeness of those unstable edges of the land was part of the secret of Norfolk’s appeal to us, a reflection of a half-conscious desire to be as contingent as spindrift ourselves, to stay loose, cast off, be washed up somewhere unexpected.”

And I thought  of Psychogeography – the effect that where we are can have on our minds.  I’ll quote from a recent posting in m’blog…


I saw this on the FB page of my old chum Ian Marchant…….


…and commented….

“I didn't know what psychogeography is...looked it up...."Psychogeography describes the effect of a geographical location on the emotions and behaviour of individuals".....and can see why Ian would be a source of info - connects with the content of 'One Fine Day' ……http://www.spanglefish.com/berniesblog/blog.asp?blogid=16286

Now, I'm thinking about how island life affects how people are..... .....hmmmm.  And - living in the North – fighting the cold a lot of the time…..hmmmmm. Food for thought.

Just remembered this..... https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/08/26/solastalgia/ I'll go away now - and think on....”

At the end of Chapter 16, Roger Deakin references the submerged Bronze Age fields he swam over off the coast of the Scilly Isles…


…which, I think, connects with psychogeography too.


Stormy Weather…

Can serve a purpose…


Mass exodus of archaeologists to Sanday!

Not very long ago, that would have been a gift to the people of the island - would have been made into furnitue, chicken sheds, window frames etc. etc. 

Reminds me of the furniture in Kirbuster Farm Museum...




The Goat of Covid….

As Mike has Covid (so far – like a stinker of a ‘flu) and I’m generally manky anyway – at the moment we’re - managing.

The situation in our house reminds me of the story of when a man went to a Wise-man complaining about how difficult his life was, and the Wise-man advised him to tether a goat in his Living-room and come back to see him in a week’s time.

The man came back  - dishevelled and distraught - saying that the goat had brought chaos into his home.

The Wise-man asked did he want to return to normality?  The man shrieked – ‘Yes!!!’  The wise man said ‘Let the goat go.’

For ‘goat’, read ‘Covid’ – except that we can’t ‘let it go’ – it’ll go in its own time. 

And meanwhile – we manage the situation – with help from a good neighbour who offered to get shopping for us and, true to his word, left a couple of loaves on the doorstep.

Also meanwhile – I’m getting withdrawal symptoms from having no hugs!


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