Strange views from Devon – the writer is always on the look-out for surprises. Something that doesn’t quite fit the expected view of people or places. It can be a mini-moment of ecstasy when you encounter one – if it’s a nice one, that is. Perhaps even the less pleasant revelations act as a useful stimulus, shaking up fixed ideas, stirring the imagination.
I was lucky enough to have at least two (pleasant) such jolts on our recent visit to the Topsham area. It was our first encounter with the village of Lympstone, and it gave me one of the most magical of surprises. The village is on the Exe estuary but actually looks as though it’s in the sea. Water washes the base of the shoreline cottages, and it must be one of the few places in England where people dry their laundry on the beach. What the photo can’t show you is the gorgeous array of maroons and purples on the washing line, the first time I saw this startling sight. (Sometimes the best moments just don’t make it onto camera.) Then there were puzzling reflections of us in the silvery sculpture globes in the centre of Exeter. Grandma (me), granddaughter Martha, daughter Jess. Who is who, and where are we all?
Now I just need to find ways of writing about all this. A poem, a reflective memoir, a water fantasy. Water often does it for me, as a writer – sitting by a fast flowing, shallow river, or walking by winter waves on the sea shore. The chatter in my mind ebbs away, and the experience of the infinite complexity of moving water takes its place. Currents, patterns, swirls – water parting round rocks, whirling into pools, streams joining.
What will it be this time?