Monday, 10 May 2010

Don't Call Us, We'll Call You

When I was a kid, every Spring we would stay in a cottage on the west coast of Scotland. It was so near to the beach that if you fell out of bed, you'd land in the sea.
We had some wonderful times there as a family, and we were often allowed to take friends - I used to take my best friend Jill, and my brother even took his girlfriend once - a canny but annoying young lass who whined a lot.
The cottage was teeny, with an outside toilet and shower - full of massive spiders. Needless to say, it was the one week of the year when I never got washed once - it was great.
We would spend most of the time rockpooling, shell-hunting, gorge climbing and exploring - and all the fresh sea air would make us ravenously hungry, so we would pull the little drop-leaf table outside and feast on endless 'French' lunches - baguettes, cheese, ham....and fudge. Dad would just sit in his little 'heaven' sipping contentedly on a glass of red as we searched for driftwood to build big beach bonfires.
These holidays were magic times.

So when the 9 year old was born, I made a little pact with myself, and promised that I would introduce my own family to this magical place, and take them every spring.

The cottage hadn't changed much when we went back that first year - they'd been 'done up' a bit, and they'd even managed to put a toilet, shower and basin into the old boots and coats cupboard.
On that first trip back, though, there was one thing that really struck me. We parked the car at the top of the cliff - stuffed to the gunnels with seaside crap and food - and as we made our way down the one hundred and thirty something stairs, I was quite overcome with the feeling that I'd 'come home.' It wasn't just the beautiful sight of the little cottage waiting for us below, or even the stunning view across the sea to the Isle of Arran, it was the smell and the sounds. Wild garlic was EVERYwhere on the side of the cliff, and its potent smell reminded me of all the happy years I'd been to this place. And the sounds? Oystercatchers - lovely little seaside birds in black and white with long, bright orange beaks and their distinctive 'p-weeeep' sound.

We've been back there every spring since then - we even had a week with Jill and her own lovely family one year. Sadly, we've had to miss out this spring, but you know, a funny thing's happened recently. We live out in the countryside, about 30 miles from the coast - but every day this week I've watched 2 lovely Oystercatchers fly over the garden with their familiar call - 'p-weeep, p-weeep.'
I don't know about you, but I like to think they're from that little place I like to call home....

(Click on the photo of my lovely holiday place at the top of the page to make it bigger. See if you can spot something sparkling next to the bonfire) Also - click on the p-weeep to hear the oystercatcher! 


  1. Love that second picture of them playing cricket. I used to think the pitch below Bamburgh Castle was the best, but that wins, I think.

  2. I should run a 'spot the ball' contest - its definitely in the picture but very hard to see!

  3. Have you all managed to spot the ball?