Circle… this is the topic for today’s blog challenge. I can’t quite remember where I found the list of subjects, or what it pertained to, but it was somewhere on social media. I decided to crank up my writing, which has been slightly in the doldrums in terms of originality, and use the list as a starting point for a 30-day challenge, to write on consecutive days blogs from the titles/subjects on the list. So today, day nine…
I confess we had got a bit lost; well, not really, we knew we were walking through a rather tumbled wild area adjacent to the sea, a mixture of dunes and rough pastures or fields. The tide had come in higher than we had expected and as we hadn’t yet had our picnic, we followed a track, pointed out to us by a leaning signpost, ‘coastal footpath‘. We didn’t really mind where we went, exams were over, the final exams, and the term was dribbling away and soon we would also dribble away in our different directions.
There was supposed to be a gang of us, then a group of us, and to be honest, I didn’t really want to go – a picnic on the beach, plenty to drink, silly carefree behaviour, and with an only just healed broken heart there was the likelihood that something stupid and regrettable would happen. The numbers dwindled and in the end, Jonty said should we just go for a ramble along the beach, find somewhere away from families and ordinary people, lie in the sun, picnic, have a swim, not necessarily in that order and just chill – if we swim we certainly will chill, I remarked.
Jonty had parked his jalopy (‘his jal-whatty?’ someone had said when we first knew him) in the small carpark, and we’d followed the footpath away from the little cove before we realised that in fact the tide was coming in and not going out. So instead of walking along the sand, we had continued on the footpath which had gradually fizzled out and we were just walking through knee high grass. We could hear the sea but we could tell we were further away from it. I think somehow we had lost the coastal footpath, maybe when we crossed over the river rushing out to do battle with the incoming tide. We had been chatting away, as if we knew that soon we would leave the city and go back to our home towns and maybe, just maybe, never see each other again.
W climbed a bank and suddenly we were above the surrounding area and we could see the sea, a brilliant blue, crested with white horses, galloping for the shore. Across the water, crystal clear, we could see Farholm Island and it looked so close, close enough to swim there, although in fact it was dangerously impossible with the currents and tides. Despite the sun, the wind was somehow a little chilly, or maybe my sadness at my imminent departure caught up with me. it wasn’t just leaving here, leaving Uni, leaving my friends and my student life of the last three years, it was knowing that I was leaving this part of my life, and what was ahead would be completely different and the freedom of my childhood and youth would be gone.
“Come on!” and suddenly Jonty ran down the other side of the bank and we were in a bowl-like dip, sheltered from the freshening breeze and we had discovered the perfect place for our picnic. The grass in here was shorter and softer and thankfully quite comfortable to sit on as we had not thought to bring a blanket or rug. We pulled out our random items of picnic food, shop bought sandwiches, Greggs’ sausage rolls, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, tortilla chips, and beer.
It was perfect, the sky an azure circle above us, the air warm here, the scent of the plants or whatever the wildflowers were that were growing up the sides of the grassy bowl. We talked nonsense, we reminisced, we laughed, we talked about improbable futures, we ate and dozed… it was idyllic, it was a summer idyll. But Jonty, of course, got restless and decided we should go back to the top of the ‘walls’ and see what else we could see and maybe walk round them, and I realised that maybe this depression wasn’t natural, that the sides were actually a circular wall.
On all fours we clambered up to the top and I could see now that where we were wasn’t natural, it was man-made. Earthworks! I thought to myself. We walked round the top and we found what at first seemed a broken down part but then decided was actually an entrance, on the land side, not the sea side. We slid down and began to circumnavigate the outside and came across a notice board: Black Fort: is a Historic Monument under the authority of Strand UDC. It consisted of two of earthen concentric circles with an inner and outer enclosure. The site was apparently called ‘The Cups and Saucers’ because of its shape. Maybe this was a place of transition, between the land the sea, and us being without or within the circles.
This was interesting but time however was getting on, and we ought to be heading back, and somehow we had both become quiet, something of the mystery of the place, something of our thoughts of our own transition, of at present being within our own little circle of friends and familiar places and routines, soon to without, literally without, all left behind as we moved into the next part of our lives.
We entered the circle again, gathered our things, and then silently, and almost meditatively, we left.
This was inspired by a real place, Lissanduff in County Antrim. To find out more about this wonderful and magical place, here’s a link: https://www.causewaycoastalroute.com/lissanduff