We woke up to sunshine this morning so, after boiled eggs, headed to the coast. Worth Matravers is one of the most ridiculously picturesque villages in Dorset, a series of higgledy-piggedly stone cottages with limestone roofs. The cottages huddle around a duckpond, like so many gossips. Three ducks decided to waddle across the road, in no particular hurry, all quite content to make the traffic wait while they quacked – doubtless debating whether to go for an afternoon swim. I felt I had taken a left turn into a Beatrix Potter.
Writing Fred, I’ve been yearning for the sea. I need to fill my lungs and mind with salt-air, and then, imagination brimming with the rush and roar, I’m ready to return home and write again. Today, it was wild up on the cliffs, the wind and sea battling against one another. I found myself staring at the water, trying to preserve the image in words for later, while the wind crashed into me and I lurched along the path like a drunkard.
And yet, perhaps unsurprisingly, when I returned home, I craved both a cup of tea and a dash of Seamus Heaney. Like Thomas Hardy, Wordsworth and the other great poets, he often writes about the impossibility of preserving nature in words. We writers are jam makers and picklers at heart; we want to find the perfect word to hold the scent of a freshly picked strawberry, that cry of the wild duck, or the way the light looks as it fall upon the cliff. But, we never can. It is merely a question of how beautifully we fail.
Worth is an ancient village and quarrying and its sister skill, stone carving, is part of the village’s history. This sign was certainly true today…