All in the end is harvest

By Judith Wildwood

Judith at her former Braystones blue wood cabin Photo by Alan Cleaver

Judith at her former Braystones blue wood cabin
Photo by Alan Cleaver

READERS of the Egremont 2Day may remember an article about winter for residents of Braystones Beach, which appeared last March.

It was based on an informal interview with me, Judith Wildwood, one-time resident of a quirky blue wooden cabin on “The Beach”.

Having sold my extraordinary basic dwelling in August, I share with you the following observations from that experience.

It was observed in September’s issue of E2D that summer is over when the kids go back to school.

The full implication of that is felt so much more deeply on The Beach. When you live in an extreme environment – and living with the Atlantic Ocean just beyond your garden wall in winter – must qualify as an extreme environment! – Autumn becomes “winter – prep” time.

All the households, irrespective of how modern the actual building is, start stockpiling fuel, examining their boundary walls, checking out their 4x4s for when the shingle beach road will be fetched out by high tides, backed by the westerly gales which characterise The Beach in winter.

But let us give Autumn its own due; on a good year there can be a glorious Indian Summer through October and into November.

I can remember entertaining friends from away in mid-November two years ago.

We sat out in my beach-garden lunching in t-shirts and shorts with warm sunshine, no wind and an exquisite sense of stillness as the tide simply whispered across the sands and the vast view extended all the way to the Isle of Man.

Such was the amazing clarity of light we could see the varied colours of individual fields rising towards the blue-violet heights of Snaefell.

Ironically, the very next day marshalled in 3 straight months of gales – where I counted 4 still days out of 90!

All that changed was the direction and ferocity of the wind.

Nevertheless, in quantifying what kind of harvest four years of living on a westerly beach brings – the rewards are many.

I feel an immensely stronger and more practical person than the “townie” who arrived there – blown in on a rainstorm on 5th November 2012.

It becomes possible, in a spiritual sense, to discern a gift of some sort in almost any kind of adversary.

Even a vicious gale rewards with an abundance of driftwood to warm you.

My wonderful coal and gasman – Mr Gainford from Calderbridge – saved my bacon more than once!

Having heard bad weather was coming in he would make it his business to come a day early so that I wasn’t short of fuel or in case the temporary beach road would be impassable to his intrepid little truck. Such kindness harks back to a time now mostly gone; certainly a far cry from the kind of life I lived in a city for 35 years.

Would I then recommend living in wooden shack on a beach without electricity and lashed annually by three or four months of gales?