Just about every article, every word written about how to be a writer contains the advice to always carry a notebook. Unlike most advice it tends to be true as you never know what ideas you’ll have and when. I normally have at least one notebook with me, though two currently nestle in my backpack. One is my story notebook (currently featuring a map of the London Underground on the front) and the other is my general notebook, which bears various maps of towns of Scotland on its front. Some of the most recent jottings in the general notebook (a great title of a military man or woman, I have to say) relate to my break in Northumberland over the weekend, some just a few words to build into something bigger at some point, thoughts to inform the larger blog post, ‘Along the way‘, published last night. The top of the page bears two words, inspired by walking along the beach at Embleton. They are ‘building wave’.
I love waves. What I miss about being by the sea can be broken down to missing seeing and hearing waves, from being far away from their crashing to the shore. As much as I enjoy that appearance, that swirl of surf, what I also enjoy is seeing the swell of a wave beginning, often ripples and several at once as the tide gets closer and closer to the shore. I often try to predict just how big and beautiful the wave will be from the buildup, sometimes getting it right, more often getting it wrong, but that isn’t the point. As I walked along the beach at Embleton on Saturday, I turned back every few yards to look at the view to Dunstanburgh but also to watch the waves. At Tynemouth on Sunday, our eyrie in the Priory gave an incredible perspective over King Edward Bay and also of the waves queuing in their haste to hit the sand. As I write about them, once more far from the sea though still hearing the wind rattle outside the house, I feel a thrill and a deep contentment every bit as acute as I did the other day when seeing that sea in the flesh, feeling the cold and the spray on my face and in my soul. It is a powerful reminder that this world isn’t really ours, that we are at the mercy of the sea and the elements, not the other way around. Being by the sea provides an incredible sense of perspective, just like looking up at the stars but without need for a telescope. You just need to look, to hear, to feel.