Sunday, May 22, 2005

Sunday, 22nd May

Sunday, 22nd May

This weather for May is certainly inclement with strong winds and heavy showers. My hopes for a quick and easy passage to Dartmouth were quashed when I heard the early morning forecast: West or South West, 5 to 6; thunder showers; moderate or good visibility. Yes, no force 7, but I’m doing this for pleasure, and when the tide turns against the wind, there would be very uncomfortable seas.

Instead of setting off after the mid-day forecast, which was roughly the same as the earlier one, I phoned Harding, an old sailing friend, with the hope that he may join me for a walk to Berry Head. I was delighted he accepted, but he explained he would be unable to be at the Marina before 1430, which in reality was closer to 1500, but it made no difference; in fact that gave me time to visit the Office to pay for a second night at berth 31, pontoon B.

My main morning chore was doing the laundry, because I had built up sufficient dirty washing for a proper clean at the Marina Launderette. Using the machine was simplicity itself; I placed the dirty items in the top loader; added powder, closed the lid, and slid two one pound pieces into the receptor. Forty minutes later the washed items were ready for the tumble dryer which worked by inserting two twenty pence coins.

Housework is really easy, isn’t it? There is no iron on my boat, and hence no ironing, but instead, I fold the dried crinkled items into a holdall, and that’s it! Where the time goes when afloat is difficult to fathom. Before I knew it, I was having lunch with the aim of finishing before my visitor’s arrival.

My walk with Harding was enjoyable as we took in views of Tor Bay and other views of the sea which was flecked with millions of white breakers. At Berry Head Lighthouse we observed its huge lenses which magnify the rather diminutive light source. As the lantern slowly rotated, all the colours of the rainbow were refracted from the sun’s rays.

While looking down from the cliff’s edge we watched a scarlet red trawler drag her catch almost to the base of the cliff where she resembled a child’s toy boat in a bath, but aboard her where real fishermen working hard on a Sunday afternoon to make a living. By contrast, we Senior Citizens were out for a leisurely stroll.

During our walk we didn’t see any of the resident and visiting birds for which Berry Head is famous. To do that, we would have needed to explore the extreme southern side of the precipitous peninsula where guillemots have a colony in excess of 1000. Seeing the greater horsehoe bats in a cave system sited in the old quarry was out of the question, but learning about them and the kittiwakes that nest on the cliff ledges was graphically explained by the use of models and illustrations in the Visitors’ Centre. In the old Artillery Store there was an excellent exhibition recounting the history of Berry Head, both in terms of geology and man’s influence upon it.

Had more time been available, no doubt we would have seen some of the rare plants and insects associated with the Berry Head National Nature Reserve. Perhaps there will be an opportunity when returning back up the English Channel.

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