Solvitur ambulando – It is solved by walking – March 2022
5th February 2022 – a bit of light, a bit of dark. By Maxim Griffin.
There are excavators on the high tide line – the sea must have been choppy the last few days, judging by the debris – an aftermath of driftwood, weird stuff that has been in the water long enough to bloat then blacken – the excavators grunt and grind.
North – towards the targets – there’s a kitchen worktop – laminated chipboard in the style of the early 1990s – beige on beige, carcinogenic – lifting it up reveals a multitude of unnameable larvae, dense and wriggling – urgh – best left to it. According to the footprints this trove has caused much interest with the local birds but the worktop has sheltered this thriving colony.
Further on the strandline are heavy duty rubber gauntlets, tangles of blue rope with molluscs and one sand mould in the shape of Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants – a couple of older seal bones that could be passed off as the ribs of medieval bishops. Strand turns to salt marsh – murky puddles, brackish patches – slime under wellingtoned foot. There’s a washed-up trunk – three times as long as a man, very bleached and from god knows where – the faint trace of chainsaw tooling on the rings – they are hard to count but we make out at least 50. It’s a good bit of wood – worth something to someone – a short haul shifts it beyond the reach of the sea.
North – big shipping does big shipping things – this is the point where the Lincolnshire coast curls up into Humber, the point where the superstructures appear to glide along the horizon. Something vast heads towards the ports – the targets off Donna Nook glimmer, capes of ragged scrim on pyramids of scaffolding – the flags aren’t up and the seals are in the ocean – a granite slab of weather is cutting across Spurn – great flashes where the sun shines on a deluge – rainbow on rainbow – then the whole northern sky settles into grey.
More diggers – yellow arms in action – pipeline stuff? Gas or oil? – most likely probing the geology for that nuclear waste dump the government wants to put under the old terminal. Hi-vis lads with radios – a 4×4 on the edge of the dune usually means something dodgy but in this instance it looks legit – nuclear waste has to be buried somewhere, might as well be miles below Lincolnshire – it’ll probably be fine – I’ll check back in a few thousand years.
Sound travels strangely out here – the horse and the rider are very far away, two miles maybe, but the drum of the hooves feels very close – the vibration stirring the razor clams from below the surface – little ripples and tiny bubbles from where they are listening – good eating, if shellfish is your thing. The horse gallops inland and the sound mixes into the wake of a passing jet and the motion of the digger’s bucket.
The northern squalls pass inland – it’s brightened up – there’s someone at the Donna Nook observation tower – best not hang around – there’s a military truck parked up beyond the razor wire – stacks of unshot targets, bundles of neon tape, painted barrels – a giant gull perches on their radio mast and regards it all with indifference. A pair of fellow hikers head south – good afternoons are exchanged – he’s got nylon rods and she’s got binoculars – I point out the scrim caped pyramids with a little too much enthusiasm.
All the curlews are here – a few barnacle geese and several young swans – hides would be useful – ideal for ornithology and tea brewing – there’s no cover coming up.
On – beach gives way to marshland – creeks from the mouth of the Seven Towns North Eau riddle out of Horseshoe Point – there’s a spot for cars to pull up but not many do – it’s an out of the way, desolate kind of place, bad memories – if you know, you know. The chest of a fridge has been driven here and dumped – they took the time to remove the door and the plug.
A red Volvo pulls up – she lets the dogs out – two terriers and a greyhoundish looking thing with soft, misted eyes – we talk dog chat – she comes here every day – knows the comings and goings, the ins and outs – the fridge has been here a few weeks, she’s reported it, too big to move herself – the council said they’d send a van.
Out across the creeks something moves – the dogs all see – two deer gingerly navigate the mud traps – they’re almost unseeable in the long grass – the first one stops, looks this way – the woman and her dogs have gone – turning, the deer are off – towards woodland on the way to Grimsby – one stops mid-field – looks around – zooms off – crow scarers pop – jackdaws don’t bolt – there are starlings over the marshland.
Onwards – snowdrops and daffodils by a well-secured gate – a security camera with a halo of spikes and ribbons of razor wire protect an empty compound. Along the grass bank – a tiny brick pillbox with tiny bricked-up eyes doesn’t look across the field to the bible college or the old runway. There’s a few of the old RAF buildings still in use – this and that – the air force flew Beaufighters from here during the war to take out U-boats and the like – a couple of years back the airframe of one was found near the crenellated ruins of Pleasure Island – I’m heading in that direction – a train to catch into town and the bus back home – some fish on the way, if time allows.
More weather offshore – beyond the turbines, over Ravenser Od a grey front moves in – a flock of gulls sparkle as they pass through the light. There are two options – either keep going ahead or cut down into the Fitties – we’ll get back to the Fitties another time – plough on – collar up against the wind – fresh to arctic – in the window of a static caravan a man stands over a steaming pot.