Storm

A deep green-grey.

We ride high on a crest and in the same breath are down at the level where we can see the cracks in the surface of the water. The vessel creaks and shudders through and over. Things slide and fall, topple and crash. With a deep Boom a big roller of a wave crashes over the bow of the ship with speed and force. We are nothing in the face of this; insignificant and ill-equipped.

I had been sleeping on this early morning crossing from Scotland to Belfast but the noise and motion had managed to penetrate my sense-depriving earplugs and eye mask to shake me awake. Once I looked out the window I knew I could not miss this, and so had settled myself at the vast, front window. I gazed out in wonder. I thought of the seabirds familiar to me from their breeding grounds on Rathlin. The small birds’ home is the vast towering sea and the ocean surface. Although perfectly adapted to this harsh environment, they are dying. Not from dramatic storms and weather patterns, but of starvation. They cannot adapt fast enough to the rising sea temperature and the impact of that on their food chain.

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The storms continue to sweep Ireland and Britain.

We are excited to get our coastal walk down at Tyrella, to experience the big sea. On arrival the tide is very high and, though sheltered, the coast itself has been changed: there are large areas of erosion and everything looks different. The wind and tide have vomited up plastic debris, as if throwing back at us what we threw at it. Rubble, shoes, rubber gloves, cleaning products, toys, bits of containers, and fridges, and bags, and clocks … And drinks bottles. Many bottles. Primarily Lucozade, and water bottles. The presence of the latter is particularly ironic in a country with an abundance of clean tap water.

The light is wonderful, changing all the time with the scudding clouds. But it is bitterly cold, walking into the sharp wind. I am not prepared enough and expend a lot of energy working out ways of blocking every draft and gap at my sleeves and neck as the wind tugs and flaps the fabric.


I walk gingerly into the edge of the sea in my wellies to get some photos. I need to step a bit further if I am to get anything decent. As the wave recedes the sand is exposed so I edge further forward, bent over with the camera awaiting the water. It rushes in more forcefully than I had expected. I drop the camera, and the icy water goes up over my boots and into them. I lose my balance and try to fall against the grassy bank but don’t quite make it.

I feel foolish for taking such a silly risk and trudge back to the car, chastened and soaked, to the comfort of a flask of tea and tweed blankets.

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