I grew up very near the sea and while our house didn’t directly overlook the water, it was nevertheless close enough to hear the waves early in the morning when everything else was still, a vivid memory I carry with me to this day. Also deeply ingrained in me is the smell of seaweed, particularly on cold, grey days but generally present all year round, to be smelled across the town. However many times the Council tried to clear the beach, the sea always yielded more and thus every time I go near the East Beach, the seaweed smell is unmistakable. In fact I get it just about every beach I go to, wherever I am and however far I am from Dunbar. It isn’t massively unpleasant, it’s just pervasive, the kind which gets in your nostrils and seeps around windows. It’s better than manure, when the farmers are speading, but not by much.
What made me think of it was seeing a Tweet this morning from the author Amy Liptrot, sharing an article about the Victorian trend of collecting seaweed, something that seems just as strange to me as eating the stuff, as of course many folk do, but it was apparently quite the craze in the 19th century. One notable collector was the writer Margaret Gatty, who produced a lavishly illustrated book called British Sea-weeds while convalescing in Brighton in 1848. One person’s nuisance is another person’s fascination, I suppose.
What I would like to do at one point, though, is go diving, particularly through a kelp forest, like those that dot the coastline around Dunbar. Kelp is another form of seaweed and kelp forests have interested me for years, though the closest I’ve ever got to them was looking down into the sea towards them. The difference between that and the stuff that coats the beaches is a smell, certainly, but mostly that it is a mystery I can see but not quite experience unless I take a dip into the waters below.
A blog announcement to finish. The other day I realised that more people have read the blog this year than in the whole of last year. And it’s only June. Thanks to all readers and followers.