Glen Fiddle Week

I am in Glencolmkille for the Fiddle Week. At the Atlantic, the sun is shining, as it has been all summer long. I am eager to swim, but the tide on the big beach is too far out, so I venture into the water on the small beach around the corner. The waves are aggressive and threateningly big and forceful. They knock me over and pull the shifting ground from under my feet. I am hit with water filled with coarse, gritty sand, the fragments so large I can identify grains made from shell and grains made from rock. It sticks to my skin and I study it closely. It gets into the camera and jams the shutter.

photo scan, Glen, Rough, high res Water

I retrace my steps. I am content to walk along the shallow part and enjoy the spray. I will not swim today.


Through the panoramic window of the hostel, situated high up on the edge of the hill, I watch the swells come into the bay from the open ocean. It looks relatively calm and safe from here, and the incoming cloud suggests rain. Perfect. I grab my gear and stumble down the steep, uneven path towards the shore arriving in time for a downpour.

The rain spits spots on the sand; they soon multiply and merge to turn the whole beach a darker shade of brown.

I swim and swim, enjoying the variation of sounds on the surface of the water: the volume lowering as the rain tapers off into mild drizzle and then back into loud, authoritative droplets. I view the surrounding landscape through a curtain of slanting rain. I breathe in the smell of the rain and the smell of the sea.

My head experiences the activity above the surface, but below it is calm. The sea carries me with its movement, its quiet coldness enveloping my body. I float.

susan hughes artist, Glen colmkille Aug 2013 (15)

The rain is nearly over and a group of teenagers come running down the steps. They change quickly and then charge into the water, screaming and splashing, then push on: out of their depth. At first I feel intruded upon; I did not expect that anyone else would actually want to swim in the rain. But then I relax and quietly admire their courage and brazen zest for life.

The tunes are going round in my head as I swim. I think of how the music is inspired by, and embedded in, the land and the sea: how it has survived and developed, travelled and returned to here; this place.

photo scan, Glen, high res Water

Back in the hostel, dried off and warmed up, I grab the fiddle and head to the pub.

Photos taken with Canon 35mm As-6 and Fujifilm XP50.

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