Monday, 21 March 2011

Thank you, that will be ...

"Thank you, that will be fifteen pounds ninety." 
I blinked. 

We had walked across the cliffs, round Bolt Head and down to South Sands, under a cloudless sky, through the smells of coconutty flowering gorse and sweet-pungent wild garlic, often pausing to let my legs and lungs catch up, and for us to gaze down at coves that can't be reached except by sea, but were now displaying rarely seen expanses of yellow-ochre sand sloping down to shallow turquoise sea.

"It's the lowest tide of the year," announced the Tidal Bore, having consulted his iPhone.  "Plus 0.2.  Extraordinary."
"Put that thing away," said Mrs TB.

Along the way, I learnt a lot about harbour dues.  These are fees you have to pay in order to be allowed to moor or launch a vessel at a given coastal location.  This is (I think - I don't always keep up with my brother on points of detail) on top of any rental you may have paid in order to park your boat.  Fair enough - there are costs to be covered.  But I raised several eyebrows at the information that you're meant to pay harbour dues to launch a kayak.

"It's not much, only about £10 a year."
"Even so," I said.  "And, what about casual visitors, tourists who just turn up with their kayaks or whatever?"

We descended to South Sands, our destination, and entered the bar of the swish new South Sands Hotel for a well-earned freshener.  My round.

"Two pints of Doombar, please," I instructed the barman.  "And a glass of red wine."
"Thank you."  He manipulated his till and smiled.  "That'll be fifteen pounds ninety, please."

I blinked.

I have now mapped out my new career path.  When the caravan season opens, in a couple of weeks' time, I will acquire a comfortable folding chair, a peaked cap, a book of cloakroom tickets and a clipboard.  I will spend my days sitting on the beach at Wisemans Bridge, and when an SUV turns up towing a jet-ski or a brace of kayaks, I will look up and smile.

"Harbour dues, please," I will say.
"Oh, er, all right.  How much?"

I will consult my clipboard.
"That will be fifteen pounds ninety, please."


  1. This coconutty, wild garlic, tourquoise sea beach...this is England right?

  2. Not actually coconuts, gorse is more prickly but great smell & "they" say there is always gorse in flower somewhere in England. Hence the saying "When gorse is out of blossom, kissing's out of fashion".
    I have to say the Dartmoor gorse wasn't blooming well - the coastal gorse was splendid.
    photos of the days

    And living up to my title, I gather the tides are on account of the pedigree (or something) moon. It might be perigee but that sounds like one is trying to describe a top show dog when tipsy.

    0.2 is low but not as low as one a few years ago when we had a -0.1 but I won't bore further into this. But it does suggest sea levels are actually on the rise as we don't see them like that anymore.

  3. Yes, England. I will put South Devon (and several other localities) up against anywhere in the world (when the weather's right).

  4. Thanks Tim, we try to do our bit. What are your several other localities?
    As I think you know mine are Corsica, Bequia & the Scottish highlands & islands.

  5. Bequia looks astonishingly beautiful, I'll just add Sanna bay, Talisker Bay, Parpan, Portza, Poschiavo and Medinaceli. I have never seen these places in England, Cornwall or Wales, I stand corrected.

  6. I was just thinking of places in Britain - the north Pembrokeshire coast, Barafundle Bay, Peak District, Lake District, Lizard peninsula, and others I haven't actually visited yet. But internationally, I certainly back Bequia. And Puglia in Italy is worth a look. Not to mention the foothills of the Pyrenees. So we all have some travelling to do!

  7. And the Alps! I'm off to guitar class...haven't practiced for weeks!