Janet and I bought the flat at Carnoustie almost 10 years ago, and over the years have had tremendous value from it. It is so homely, comfortable, weatherproof, and social, as we have got to know several of the other householders in the building. It is a former Victorian lodge, divided into flats just before we bought ours. Charlie Ward, the developer who did the work, is still around, and helpful. I hope the two pictures below, of the single large kitchen/dining room/lounge gives an accurate impression. There are also four bedrooms and three bathrooms!
There are quite a lot of Janet’s clothes, but I am not getting upset by dealing with them. The plan is to keep those outdoor clothes that will have general use, and take the others to a charity shop locally.
I shall be on my own for the next three days, then one of my two Sheffield daughters and family are joining me for the second half of the week, and we shall travel back together.
Some poems, the first three written in sonnet form, during stays at Carnoustie:
The sea smells hit us as we got off the train,
then the sound of gently lapping waves,
and birds, not gulls, but terns, and croaking shags
and waders, huddled on the dwindling reefs
as the tide rose.
This southern coast of Angus, so unspoilt:
some golf links, ranges, interesting cliffs,
but off the tourist trail, or so we hope,
an understated jewel from nature’s hoard.
A place of quiet solace, to retire
to read, and write, and watch the tides return
with stubborn regularity.
A place to share with any who admit
to need a rest, a change, and a retreat,
where all may find their peace.
Night Waves at Carnoustie.
At night the noise began, not raindrops, more
a soft insistent humming sound that reached
our half-unconscious ears. What’s that? We said,
but knew it was the waves, waves on the shore.
Once calm as glass, the sea’s mood changed, and we
next morning on the beach could feel the surge,
as wave on wave broke on the shallow rocks,
advancing line by line relentlessly.
For hours these waves had swept across the sea,
uninterrupted till they met our shore,
sweeping past the fateful Inchcape’s Bell
their energy dispelled in breakers’ roar.
The noise must be their death-throes, agony:
rage, rage against the dying of the swell.
Walk on Carnoustie Beach
We stroll along West Haven’s drying beach,
the tide’s legacy of rock pools gleam,
the massive reefs of rocks lean in rows,
like giant stacked slates in a builder’s yard.
Boulders lie in clumps, like canon balls;
Pebbles in piles like grapes waiting to be pressed;
Sand banks dry out in the stiff north wind
As we walk into the gilded glare of the winter sun.
Seabirds and waders notice us:
tiny dunlin scuttle together but still feed;
the oyster catcher shrieks alarm and flies away;
solitary redshank wanders aloof among the pools;
and the cormorant just watches from his post.
We share the scene together, sheltered by the dunes.
Slowly swamped by the rising tide and the onshore wind
the lobster boat sank side-on to the swell.
Anchored by cabled moorings fore and aft,
the craft had no chance in th’ unexpected storm.
Fishermen gathered on the beach, three generations,
watching, discussing this threat to their livelihood.
As the tide dropped, and the swell subsided,
they made it in a dingy to the drowned boat.
Scuppers, built to let the water out, had switched their role,
acting against the balers and the pumps, until,
blocked up with rags, they ceased their perverse leak.
For hours those men baled the flooded hull.
By night the little ship was floating proud,
bobbing on a calm sea, as if nothing had happened.
And the fishermen, friends, and relations could go home:
tired but satisfied, they’d rescued this wreck.
Lapping waves splash gently on the shore,
a soft wind strokes my cheek
and makes a low swooshing sound against my eardrum.
The light forces my eyes to squint against its brilliance
as it reflects off silver sand and sparkling sea.
A swallow shoots past, a gull flaps and soars,
sparrows chatter in the dune grass,
a willow tit chirps its abrasive voice,
and the waves softly lap against the gentle shore.
Above me clouds assemble in a congruence of gloom,
far away to the north east, white and fluffy overhead,
almost black in the far distance. It looks like rain.
And still the soft waves gently lap the sloping shore.
From the darkening sky silver gobbets spatter the windscreen,
the road submerges under watery sheets,
flumes of spray squirt sideways from lorries, and visibility falls.
And at the beach the waves continue their lapping.
But summer showers soon stop and sun shines,
the clouds again assume their picturesque beauty,
and all is calm. The gently lapping waves
still tickle the beach, teasing the silver sand to sleep.
I think these poems evoke the deep love we all have for this lovely place.