The Lighthouse stood sentinel over my childhood. Perched out at the furthest point of the bay, a small white sliver against the sky. Every night as the beam swept around the bay, chatting to the shipping out in the channel, it would cast a caring glance at the villages sleeping below as it wound its way full circle.
The headland where it stands has always been one of my favourite walks. There’s something about being there, on the rocky spine, with the sea on either side that makes me feel very peaceful; as if there’s all the space in the world to stretch out into, while yachts the size of a doodle potter about below and far away out to sea the square might of the container ships slowly inch across the horizon.
Perhaps I planted the idea with the girls, or perhaps they’ve simply inherited my love of the sea but from the moment we said we were going to Grandpa’s house, they knew we were going to the lighthouse.
Only Kitty is big enough to actually climb the lighthouse so she and Grandpa scuttled off down the path to be in time for the tour. And while in the end she decided that she didn’t want to climb it, by the time we met up with them she’d heard all about the little cove at the very tip of the bay that the Lighthouse Keepers used for fishing, and to bring ashore the materials used to build the Light, about how the old foghorn had gone over the cliff in a winter gale, where the vegetable garden was (on what is the north (ish) facing slope because it’s the one that’s out of the way of the prevailing gales!), and about how the children living at the lighthouse had had to walk 4 1/2 miles to school each morning along a rocky cliff path and then 4 1/2 miles back again – it must have been a very long school day for them.
Meanwhile H and I and the littlest two were making gradual progress down the hill. We found a beautiful spider’s web in a gorse bush covered in droplets of water, each one help perfectly in gentle suspension, and then as we got nearer to the bottom we came across the snails.
The girls have always been a bit wary of slugs and snails and tended to avoid them but Pip, oh that little boy can fulfil every bit of gender stereotyping when he wants to. He walked straight up to one, pointed at it, “Snay-ul”, and tried to pick it up.
The poor thing shot back inside its shell and clung to the tarmac quivering, while I grabbed Pip so that H could relocate it to the nearest shrubbery in the direction of travel. He got the “look don’t touch” message pretty well, but the fascination was going nowhere, so we had to stop and look at each and every snail on the way, and apparently Sunday mornings is when snails like to go for a stroll because they were everywhere!
By the time we got back up to the top of the headland the sun had chased away every inch of the morning’s grey cloud and so we sat out on the grass to eat our picnic with entertainment laid on by four paragliders who swooped and whirled like giant gulls, flying down over the lighthouse before catching a thermal and floating gently down the inside curve of the headland towards Hallsands.
It looks amazing. Possibly the nearest you can get to flying without having wings. We could hear them chatting to each other as they passed and as they swung past overhead they waved to a very excited Elma.
I’m not sure she could work out how they were staying up in the air, perhaps she thought it was magic.
The lighthouse won’t play the same role for their childhood as it did in mine, and why should it, their home is Warwickshire, and no matter how many of my memories we recreate, it will never be quite the same. But sitting in the sunshine as I’ve sat a hundred times before, I got the feeling that they might just overlap.
Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments