Saturday May 20, 2006
After the wide open, straight roads of Lincolnshire it comes as a pleasant change to dip into the winding green tunnels that are the norm in this part of Somerset. Some would say ‘blessed relief’ rather than ‘pleasant change’ but I’ll go with the benefits of change, the better to appreciate the contrasts and benefits of both landscapes.
Today, driving from West Quantoxhead to Williton, I feel that I experienced the blessings of the green fully for the first time. I had an inkling of the way it felt on driving home from Bridgwater the other day and it’s certain that there are more and deeper green tunnels on that road as it winds its way along the coast—imagine emerging from a dark green world, turning a corner, and being exposed on the one side to wide open views of the sea and the soft Somerset cliffs while, on the other, the heavily forested Quantock hills loom up and out of sight.
In the future, the Bridgwater to West Quantoxhead run is going to be the norm, as I drive Graham back and forth between home and his job at St Audries. I’m looking forward to that, and to the images and poems that are likely to emerge from it, but for now, the roads and lanes on this side of Somerset are the larger part of my world.
Typically I wake in the morning, draw the curtains in the living room and stand for a while looking out at the kaleidoscopic world of sea and sky—a new view every day, several times a day. Then, at some point during the morning, I drive up the steep winding lane from the camp to the road and off to Williton, or Minehead, or Taunton for provisions. When I get back I stand for a while listening to the surf before coming back into the caravan, to be ‘where have you been-ed’ by a large and determinedly affectionate mega-cat.
I feel as though I’m surfing over the surface of a sea of change. Not a dramatic sea, with huge rolling waves, more a gently insistent ‘come along with me’ kind of ocean. I’m content. I’m enjoying the ride, and happily anticipating a safe landfall in a new but equally kaleidoscopic world.
Bridgwater is aptly named, acting as a bridge between the two waters of the Bristol Channel and the Somerset levels, between the green, woody world of the Quantocks and the open landscape and skies of the levels, and between the mostly rural life of Somerset and the industrial economy of a busy port. I’ve no idea whether the name came about accidentally or by design, and I’m looking forward to researching it when my reference books come out of store and when I have unfettered Internet access once more. The first thing to do in any new place is to come to a clear understanding of the origins of its name.
I shall get to that in good time. Meanwhile, I’m drifting happily with the tide, letting my thoughts wander with it and, as always, taking notes. There’s a deal of pleasure, for a while, to be no more than a bit of spindrift, directed by changing winds and waves. I doubt I’d enjoy it as a permanent way of life but, for now, it suits me well enough.