I have mentioned previously about childhood coastal summers in Yorkshire. A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I walked a more northerly stretch from the magnificent pier at Saltburn by the Sea just east of Middlesbrough through the old fishing settlements of Staithes, Runswick Bay, Sandsend and Whitby to Robins Hood’s Bay in the south. Twenty-eight miles to fish and chips and a very welcome pint of Timothy Taylor’s. The sands: not all sea, not all land… a place in between… marginal… a kind of ‘no mans land’ offering pockets of ephemeral opportunity between the tides for bright buckets and spades and faded stripy wind breaks, donkey rides, ice creams and candy floss. There were dads optimistically shouldering surfboards, tiny toddlers experiencing tentative first toe dips and grandparents passing on honed skills of fine sand-boat building. And from cliff tops, distant figures rock-pooling, fishing and fossil hunting. I had forgotten how energising it is to be high up, looking down on sparkling sea and the surface structure of our planet.
Margin… Boundary… Borderline… Periphery… Perimeter… Extremity… Limit… Coastlines are the selvedge edge to the fabric of our land and as such, have the unique and dual tasks of being both the point of containment and the point of departure. Structure is laid bare, time made visible. Yet again, as we passed the remnants of Ironstone mining at Skinningrove or Alum quarrying near Sandsend, I was reminded of how rock… geology underpins pretty well everything. Back in the studio on the following Monday, I caught up with who had been doing what on the World Beach site and discovered a just posted entry from Whitby, probably made as we walked right by – they too inspired by these fabulous cliffs.