First, apologies. Fallen behind with the blog. Book promotions, lots of running around, little time to look or listen, and even less time to write. So it goes. Yesterday I was in Cromer, for a Jarrolds literary lunch, and in the middle of it I had to take a long call to interview, well, a majestic sporting figure; please excuse my coyness, but read more in the Radio Times in a couple of weeks.
The people at the Cliftonville Hotel were amazingly helpful and it all went smoothly because of them – so many thanks. It was a stressful business, the talk followed by the interview, but I anticipated that and went for a little pre-emptive stress relief.
Before the lunch I walked to the end of Cromer Pier in the eternal drizzle of June. I was there for a gentle sea-watch, for you don’t get too many pelagic birds in the middle of the Broads. First there was a fulmar, wings so stiff that it looked like a human-made glider, save that it out-performed any device we humans could make. Fulmars are related to albatrosses and there’s an intensity about their flying that you don’t find in floppy-winged gulls.
Holiday-makers, well wrapped-up, passed and re-passed and then went in for a cup of tea. A man with half a dozen – I counted them – fishing-lines had taken ownership of the furthest corner of the pier. Picking my way around the rods, I had a watch from the other side.
It’s about focusing your eyes (and bins) a good half a mile away and more, trying to interpret small clues in a meaningful way. The secret is to throw your soul out to sea while remaining dry-shod. And there, passing just in front of the wind turbines, low to the sea and moving with some purpose, two gannets: glowing far whiter than anything else ever could: wild birds of the wild open ocean, and for a moment I was as wild as they were.
Then I hurried back up to the Cliftonville to talk about my book.
On The Marsh: A Year Surrounded by Wildness and Wet; with contributions from Edmund Barnes.
Oh, and I’m with the majestic Cerys Matthews tomorrow on BBC Radio 6