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withernsea lighthouse



I don’t feel old. I guess I’m not really. When I was small, nine, ten, eleven we had no television, no phone, computers and mobile phones were still sci fi. We had books, and I read voraciously. Words were a source of power and fascination. I saved for a year until my tenth birthday and mum put half towards a shiny new black and yellow Phillips Fiesta bicycle with three speed modern Sturmey Archer gears. The country roads around our little town wound through hamlets and villages.near withernsea In summer I would pedal out of town, taking in the fields and the woods, and the farms, stopping now and again to feast on blackberries, or to pick mushrooms, or to explore the hawthorn hedges. If you peeked into the thorny hedges, there would be blackbirds sitting on their eggs with a wary eye, or with fledglings to be fed. They had insatiable appetites. You couldn’t touch them otherwise the mother bird would abandon her chicks. In winter I would pedal out into the cold crisp snow, knowing that by the time I had gone too far, with hands and feet blue with cold, and darkness falling at 4pm, I would have to turn back and pedal the miles up hills and down, with the winding country roadOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA freezing over. My eyes glued to the lighthouse flashing it’s friendly sweep every three seconds across the town. Often, in mid winter, by the time I arrived home the town was deserted. It felt as if you were the only being left on earth and the world had frozen over. But the lighthouse was a constant. After warming hands and feet at the cast iron kitchen stove, crying from the pains of blood warming through the extremities, mum would have a bowl of soup and fresh bread. The soup made from potatoes gathered from the cliffs, and kale left in the fields after the harvest. Always mum would give me a little sack to take with me on those lonely but not lonely journeys into the country. The war was over by ten years, but still there were no supermarkets, little money and scarce food. We fossicked for what we could. Later, tucked warm in bed, with a torch under the blankets, I would read Treasure Island, or Black Beauty, or an illustrated encyclopeadia. Always there were books. And then, I would curl up and watch the lighthouse sweep it’s welcoming light around my bedroom, lighting up and seeming to move the nursery rhyme figures on the wallpaper. Time is a tricky, and often mean creature. I know this was not yesterday. But it feels like it. Our bodies age, but our minds stay fixed in time.


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