American Homecoming

Oakland bridge

It’s been seven years since I was back in the place of my birth. As I consider myself pretty soundly British, it’s funny how quickly I slip in to little Americanisms once I’m here: the pavement is quickly replaced by the sidewalk, and I learn that no one will understand my request for water unless I pronounce it with a twang.

viewfinder

I’m reminded that crossing the road outside of a designated pedestrian strip alarms people greatly, and that it’s easier to get your hands on a margarita than a cup of tea. I’m bowled over by people’s friendliness, be it a chat in the brunch queue, a glass of wine with a table of strangers, or the bartender serving those margaritas.

Rust Ridge 2

I’ve driven automatic and had some rather dramatic reminders that the left side is definitely the wrong side of the road round here. I’ve eaten my body weight in french toast and Triscuits, and heard my first live Mariachi band. The days have been full, and I still have another fortnight of American snapshots to fill up on; hopefully more of the friendly-chats than the bad-driving variety..

Rust Ridge

Grama by the Sea

trinidad pier

This morning Mum and I are jetting off to San Francisco, to start our journey up to visit Grama in Northern California. So, today I thought I’d share some of my Grama’s thoughts on the sea, as I’ll be visiting this piece of coast in just a couple days.

I so enjoyed the blog this morning with my first cuppa, feeling the fresh sea air blowing (from my decades by the ocean in beloved Trinidad). The sounds rate high for me: the cries of the irrepressible gulls as they dive and salute the day; the coughs and grunts of the languid sea lions as they push and shove on their bits of rock repose; the constant and soothing come-and-go of the waves and tides which become ‘second nature’ to those of us fortunate to have integrated sea life into our bones.

The sudden storms that rise and give much-needed rains, the sun seen through rainbows across wide horizons, little local boats bobbing in close as well as the large ships passing out at sea. The seafood so fresh and special, the PEOPLE so lovely and graceful. Time has a way of familiarizing all this to those fortunate to have sea access as I have for more than half of my life. Born a block from the ocean, raised in the soil of farming with animals and creatures above and below, it all has its magnificent place within. Quite amazing.

And you girls will be here very soon. Can’t wait.

I can’t either Grama!!

An August Read: Fire Season

Fire Season

I love those books that present themselves to you quite by accident. I found this one when killing time before a meeting, and leafing through the sales shelf.  Connors writes of his time as a fire lookout in the wilds of New Mexico. 

Tom and I visited one of these fire lookout towers several years ago in California. The long journey out to the tower, and the intimidating scale up the ladder to get to the top, all made it feel so distanced from the everyday. 

The guy was super friendly and his tower was kitted out with a few quirky creature comforts, including on old Nintendo system.  He spoke of what a desirable job this was, but one that only appealed to a certain character. Days hanging out in the wild, staring at the huge vista all around you sounds pretty appealing to me. 

Connors’ writing drew me straight in. He has a natural way of writing about the big country and his tiny part in it, weaving history, conservation and politics in to the individual anecdotes of his months looking out for wildfires in the Gila National Forest.

It’s clear that Connors never felt bored during his time alone, and his book never drags. I relished the descriptions of wild country, and his perspective on our place in it. The very best kind of nature writing. 

Pieces of Summer

piecesofsummer

Already these August days are filled with delicious snippets, be it either a couple hours stolen after work, or a long weekend pootling about with friends.

Thanks to the weeks of sunshine, I’ve been flying kites, swimming in the sea, climbing trees, riding high on a ferris wheel and eating the very best fish and chips on the beach. There’s a lot to be said for putting a stretch of water between you and your work. I’ve enjoyed the escape and wallowed in a lazy summer weekend pace.

Even the bike ride to work feels lush: riding through the park, on to quiet green boulevards free of the usual school run traffic.

The recent seaside bloggers, from West Scotland to Trieste, have me wishing to visit new coastal spots. I’ll be headed to my home coast, Trinidad CA, in just a couple weeks and I can’t wait to wander round the foggy headland and watch the seals in the bay. But for now, I’m enjoying all these little sunny delights between the 9-5.

Seaside Bloggers: Chasing Wight

sea marker text.jpg

Today’s post comes from a little closer to home. Right at home in fact, as Tom is now blogging away on his own little corner of the internet. I’m so in love with our little seaside town, I’m happy to have the excuse to share it from another perspective.

1) Tell me about your slice of coast and why you love it.

Being island dwellers, we’ve got a lot of coast around us. Cowes may not have the long sandy beaches of Sandown, or the rugged cliffs and coves of the south of the Wight, but our part of the coast is still pretty special. I love how the the sights from our stretch of coast are ever changing and always full of interest.

We’re a mecca for sailing, the waters of the Solent an irresistible lure for yachty types from around the world; but we also have regular visits from the imposing cruise and cargo ships, wending their way to Southampton. Every time I look, something different is there…what’s not to love?!

2) What’s your favourite thing to do by the sea?

My favourite thing to do by the sea has to be the same as my favourite thing to do anywhere: run! I’m not much of a swimmer, and canoeing/kayaking requires more upper body strength than I possess, but to run by the sea is a really special thing. Whether pushing against a headwind or propelled by a tail wind, nothing feels better than the sea air rushing past as I stride along.

The (currently) undeveloped seafront between Cowes and Gurnard is my most regular run, at its best with waves splashing over the side or the sun just dipping below the horizon and putting on a light show. We’re blessed with fantastic coastal running here though, with coastal downland providing challenging terrain and terrific views.

east cowes

3) If you had a little sailing boat, where would you go?

I think I’m a homebody, I wouldn’t want to venture too far! First I’d find someone who could keep me from drowning in the open waters; I’ve never sailed despite living in Cowes for seven years now! Then, I’d get them to take me on a coastal tour of the west of Great Britain.

We’d start in the magical land of Cornwall, visiting the secluded coves and steep valleys, before heading north to the Pembrokeshire coast, so rugged and ancient. I know these places well, but am always happy to visit again. We’d finish our trip with the islands and Scotland though, they look so beautiful and are certainly top of need to visit places.

st catherines

Scotland is pretty close to the top of my list too! Though I suspect we’re more likely to travel overland than by boat.

If you have a slice of sea you’d like to share, please get in touch!

Photos by Tom Pratt.