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On a Clear Day to Kent

kent palm trees

I thought that I had hardly ever seen the old Thames estuary look as blue and green as it did this afternoon.

Sometimes I go down to the front here at Southend-on-Sea and you’d not even know we aren’t on the edge of the earth, so it’s quite nice when the Garden of England across the water puts in an appearance.

Apologies for the double negative but I kinda liked writing it.

Losing the spark

I meant to post these (some of my mudlark findings) a while ago. Life got in the way, as it is wont to do. I seem to have a problem accepting what it is physically possible to achieve given the constraints, if not set by every click of the clock, then at least those presented by the fact that the world does turn from night into day and round again.

My health seems not to have been so good this year, which sometimes puts the skids under me. It’s frustrating, but maybe I am paying the price of not stopping. Genetically, it must be said that my inheritance is to not know how. I’m not moaning, just musing. It would be churlish to wish that there were more hours in the day, and I probably can’t go any faster. Perhaps the best thing to do is just accept that it is what it is and there’s nothing I, or anybody else, can do about it.

spark plug

Mudlarking

I have a deep fascination with the Thames…

Doesn’t that sound pretentious? I have no such thing. Actually, I do. I am obsessed with it as a thoroughfare, a literary device, a witness of history. With the whale that swam up it, and the swimmers that swim down. With its floods and barriers, its sunken ships (at least one full of explosives), the Shivering Sands straight out of H.G Wells, and the boat that Magwitch and Pip rowed down it in the Victorian fog, at least as far as Chalkwell Beach and the Crowstone which marks the limits of the reach of the Port of London Authority.

Which leads me to mudlarking – basically scavenging on the foreshore. Inter-tidal archaeologist or no, the bottom line is you fossick for stuff when the tide is out. Except… if you don’t have a licence, issued by aforementioned Authority, then you cannot dig.

Guess what? I now want a licence. Turns out if I want to dig to a depth of 7.5 cm (basically a tourist’s visa) it’s going to cost me £70 for a standard licence for a year. Then if I want the full mudlarking shizzle – I have to serve two years probation at the 7.5 cm depth, and a build a record of submitting finds to the Museum of London. Then, if approved, I can excavate to the mighty depths of 120 cms. Watch this space.

In the meantime, I found this – too heavy to carry. I thought it quite beautiful and it reminded me of a friend. As well as all this, I sensed the ghosts of many a workman fulminating, ‘Bloody bucket!’ as they lobbed their wooden contraption with a busted galvanised handle into the deeps with a splosh. If you go, wear gloves and wash your hands.

mudlark2

Unremarked in daylight

These silver birches are outside the Tate Modern in London, on the south bank of the River Thames.

When I have visited in the daylight I have seen them, but they are unremarkable. An evening visit recently showed them in a whole new light, literally. Unfortunately my camera couldn’t, or wouldn’t, capture the ground level purple strobe that criss-crossed through the trees.

Funny how things can be transformed in the dark. In nature the results can be quite beautiful, in the human mind it can be just the time when the cold, clammy monsters of anxiety and dread come knocking, catching a somnolent person unawares.

Given the choice, I’d take the silver birches every time.