Have you ever begun your day expecting one thing and ended up finding something quite different? This happened to me 4 years ago when I went to find the old Weatherhead boatyard in Cockenzie. I wasn’t sure exactly what I expected, probably to indulge an interest in ex-industrial areas with the added bonus that Shemaron had been built in this boatyard in 1949. When I look back, however, it is the young child running in the sun that I remember. She was so happy running in the sunshine, in and out of the harbour walls and buildings. The memory still brings a smile to my face when I think about her.
February 19th, 2013 Running In The Sun
This was going to be the first Shemaron blog of 2013 and in some ways it still is. I started the day expecting to find old boats, a bit of industrial decay and certainly the sea and found all this plus so much more.
It was warm and still when I turned down a gap between two buildings that I thought would take me to the shore. I was halfway down before I noticed a child perched in a warm spot where the sun hit the wall. The muted colours of her clothes blended so well with her surroundings that I didn’t notice her at first. I walked carefully, aware that I might somehow be interrupting her quiet moment. She greeted me brightly, and I continued on to the beach. The rusted steel rails that ran down to the sea had caught my attention. When I turned around both the child and my husband were standing side by side. They were peering through holes in the corrugated iron wall of the old boatyard. It looked as though we might be able to gain entry from the other side.
We made our way up the road and the girl called a farewell after us. She disappeared between the bricks and alleys, the built on and knocked down ramshackle of workshops synonymous with harbours. Her tousled braids bounced in the sun when she ran. It seemed to me that she might live in the harbour walls, she fitted so readily into their crannies and appeared so easily running from their gaps.
We walked to the top of the street and turned right into the garage which then operated from the Weatherhead yard. The occupants were happy for us to look round and left us to investigate. We spent a few minutes soaking up the grunge and grime of broken boats, silent winches, and redundant rails.
When we emerged back into the fragile February sun we went to sit on the harbour wall. She was there again, the bright little girl whose spirit sang and streamed around her as she ran. By this point, we had surmised that she didn’t speak any English. I thought she might be on holiday. She appeared once more waiting patiently for an appropriate moment to offer us peanuts from her small clenched hand. Then she was off again running and skipping down the road, her aura set alight by the sun. I felt a little sad when we had to go. Her innocent open and happy demeanor was infectious.
We Drove Into Violets
We left her and took the coastal route back towards Newcastle. There had been a heavy snowfall some days ago and snow still cleaved to the hill. Driving past the woods I noticed the beechwood floor was blanketed with snowdrops bright and white. They had pushed through the copper carpet of leaf fall which shone thick on the ground. Tall white windmills stood on top of the moors spinning shadows over the car and road and fen.
Later it was as though we drove into violets with the gloaming. We turned at Berwick and the horizon swept around trailing tangerine skies into lilac where they rested over Cheviot soft and grey in the distance.
Darkness fell in behind us on the road and I was soon hanging on tail lights of other cars, squinting in the glare of oncoming traffic.The road was lined with cats eyes and copses, the one becoming brighter as we approached, the other becoming lost in the night. I was driving always and always into the pool of light on the road ahead. By the time we arrived home the city stars were shining and a crescent moon hung over our roof.