Solvitur ambulando – It is solved by walking – October 2022

Words by:
Maxim Griffin
Featured in:
October 2022

4th September – the dust blows back, the year turns. By Maxim Griffin.

High tide – sand on concrete – the first murky morning of autumn is burning away, a brush mark along the horizon – a child who has not seen the sea for many months – a woman, surrounded by family – holds the railing – heavy dogs on heavy leads pull a man south – a couple walk slowly, falling in love with each other again – the ocean is the colour of wings and bombers – they are trying to fly a kite but the line gets more tangled with each crash – mid morning, the engines of the chippy fire up – fat and potato and salt – chalets with price tags, nautical themes, driftwood embellishments, numbers and names – a baby is carried on the father’s back, lolling with his flip flopped steps.

The promenade may well be the best walk in Lincolnshire – a straight line for miles – you can walk it in an hour or so – there will be ships and people and colour – the closest one can get around here to walking through a Bruegel.

A gull laughs at the edge of Mablethorpe – you can hear the depth of the water as each wave churns in – part of a buoy has made landfall – it was red once, bright as blood – the sea has sucked the colour away – there’s no trace of sewage in the water today – someone is out there, attempting to surf – it is hardly Point Break, but it’ll do.

The fog rises – blue sky coming through – the newest chalets are largely plastic – a couple have opened up, placing chairs and a folding table out front, Classic FM burbling from a small yellow radio – a man strolls by – plumes of cherry smelling ghosts from an electronic cigarette, fist clenched about a tin of Vimto. The small yellow radio chimes in the hour – 11 – short news, Charles Trenet – at the next chalet a man lights a pipe – ‘La Mer’ warbles through the wireless with impeccable timing.

On – a little girl is learning to ride the bicycle – her parents grow impatient – she collapses down in tears and clicking spokes – 400 starlings take off – look, the tide retreats – a figure walks the strandline – pausing to select rocks perhaps – the dog catches up with him and barks – two older boys are digging a hole with undersized shovels – they are up to their chests – the father grunts approval.

Marram grass takes root where it can – the wind picks up and the struggling kite launches – fast clouds cast fast shadows on to the sea – the wind quickens the waves – a gull floats idle – there have been reports of jellyfish – the wind brings them in – a plastic chair falls over and people dance around it – men go for chips.

A boy, 3 at the most, strides along the sea wall, zigzagging this way and that and is called back – his father is dressed for a different day, perhaps one at the golf club – he has a fear of gravity his son has yet to learn – a dog barks, the concentration has gone – the boy plops off the wall into the arms of golf club man.

Harried mothers marshal a sandcastle competition – best castle wins a bag of Haribo – they have bought themselves ten minutes at most – a boy with fire in his eyes claims a bucket related injustice – a moat has been dug and water fetched but the water keeps draining away – the solution is to bring more water faster – razor clam shells reinforce keeps of wet sand – an old couple keep score as though they were at the Test match.

On – it has brightened up – warm, a breeze – several families gather at a blue chalet – wet children, towels, deck chairs – the man has a camping stove on – two rings on, one for the kettle, the other for pasta – four large jars of branded pasta sauce and a sack for pre-grated cheese – there is genius at work here – cyclists comment on the smell.

The residents of a nearby care facility are heading north – chippy lunch perhaps – the support workers are masked up, keeping things moving – a woman shoos a gull away and it shines in the light – across the south, turbines flicker.

A man cuts the season’s circus posters from posts and poles – a Stanley knife and the sound of crackling tape – a gurning clown’s face stuffed into a black bin bag – a luminous sift of clouds moves south – a woman in wolf fleece rides a mobility scooter – she greets the poster man – his name is Michael – their short conversation covers the changing weather and the inevitability of death – she’s off to Lidl first though.

A seal emerges from the surf to the delight of children and the confusion of dogs – an outrider of the Donna Nook colony perhaps – seal season is coming soon – people gather in a semi-circle with camera – dogs bark and are led away – the seal turns back into the water. A couple discuss the possibility of swimming – the teeth of the sea pull back – no trace of scum or sewage today – the couple are going to risk it and scuttle off to get changed – children run across tight packed sand – bare feet, pasta smeared faces – there is one curlew trilling out there – a man pockets freshly landed flints – a child finds a holed stone the size of an ogre’s fist – the girl is dressed in the colours of a tropical bird and holds a dead starfish – the man launches a perfect skimmer, but nobody witnesses it.

Back to land – on – a man has portraits of his extended family tattooed on his calves and wears more gold than an Aztec prince – he speaks delicately to his ancient mother – the great grandchildren appear with whoops and hollers – the golden man and his ancient mother are overjoyed, glittering in the moment.

On – behind the chalets, the park is having work done – there’s been grumbling about the benches, the bowling green, the colonnades.

Down the road, a pub advertises an upcoming Elvis night – tombola, buffet supper, Hail to the King.



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Calling all UK young artists!Doddington Young Sculptor Exhibition Doddington Hall and Gardens, Lincolnshire invites submissions from UK-based sculptors and 3D artists, aged under 30, for an exciting new open exhibition to be held this summer. Doddington is looking for pieces to be exhibited in the historic working Kitchen Garden, which complement the Garden and its surroundings. The Doddington Young Sculptor Exhibition will run alongside the main bi-annual Sculpture at Doddington exhibition and is an opportunity to exhibit alongside some of the finest contemporary sculptors selected from across the country and further afield. Prizes: 1st prize – £750, 2nd prize – £250Submission deadline: Sunday April 21st 2024Further details about eligibility, terms and conditions can be found at: www.doddingtonhall.com/event/young-sculptor-exhibition/To apply, please email your submission as a PDF document to angus@doddingtonhall.com ... See MoreSee Less