Just as the weather improved and summer arrived all at once I spent three days on the Northumbrian coast, near Lindisfarne, with my dear friend Jane. We enjoyed together walks along the beaches and cliffs, visits to the monuments and sights, the fresh air and sun, and having nothing to do but enjoy ourselves.
Book- and word-related events of our three days included …Imagining that the high tide flooding of the causeway to Holy Island as an ideal plot device. Twice a day the village is cut off. Dire warnings are posted about checking the tide. It comes in quickly. One could imagine a chase, the pursued just escaping with wet feet or in a 4X4 with slightly larger wheels than their follower’s. In that story there would be not only a chase, but a ‘locked room’ mystery, for this story must hinge on the isolation of the island community, cut off from the mainland twice daily.
In St Abbs we visited the converted primary school, now a café with great homemade soup and stotties. There were shelves of books for sale to raise money for the St Abbs community, which runs its own harbour. I found a copy of The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen, which I bought for £1 and gave to Jane. Recycling books. Great.
Overlooking St Abbs Harbour there is a very moving bronze monument by Jill Watson: ‘Commissioned by the people of Berwickshire to commemorate the women and children left by the East Coast Fishing Disaster of 1881.’ The figures, about four inches high, look out to sea. There is a story here. On 14th October 1881 a great storm hit the east coast and 189 fishermen were lost.
The Ramparts Walk at Berwick-upon-Tweed is a perfect setting for a lovers’ tryst in a historical romance, a Montagu/Capulet affair, with allegiances both north and south of the border …
Reading in bed, while the blackbird shouts at the cat in the B&B garden; The Heart Broke In by James Meek from the Fiction Uncovered 2013 list.
This would be an ideal place for a writing retreat. Wide skies, the sea, friendly hospitable people but not very many of them, good walks, interesting sites to visit (for your Artist’s Date), perfect weather.
Lots of really good talk with a very good friend.