By: Blonde Two
‘I’ll meet you by the double railings’. Was the instruction I received the first time I headed down to the beach join my swimming group. I have been sea swimming with the group most days for nearly three years now and have grown to love the physical features that accompany my daily swim. It funny how the man-made aspects of this particular outdoor landscape have had as much of an impact on me as the natural ones. I love the rocks that disappear and reappear with each tide, and I love the cliffs that look like they are about to drop into the sea (they do hide caves) but I also love the crumbling concrete prom, the sea wall (in which I have a favourite stone) and the steps that take me down into the sea.
More prosaically perhaps, I love the sets of railings, which I grip with two hands in order to make it safely to and from the water when the barnacles have failed in their anti-slip mat duties and the tide is being pushy. I have no idea whether it is by accident or design but these railings are spaced at around 50 metres apart, which allows us to measure swimming distances; something that was very useful during last year’s Polar Bear Challenge. Rusty Railing however was different. A relic of previous railings installations, it had a beautiful patina, gave opportunity for self-delusion with a not-quite-50-metre swim from its nearest neighbour, and was the railing of last resort during a spring tide when the water was up over the prom.
Then one day last week Rusty Railing disappeared. I like to think that it swam off to enjoy a tour of old wrecks along the seabed but my detective work suggests it was removed sensibly by the authorities before a winter storm could severe it from its roots and cause damage, not least to swimmers. Despite being grateful to those authorities I think I will miss Rusty Railing. Our shiny silver railings (not actual silver) look beautiful covered in frost and, barnacles not withstanding, are unlikely to scratch our hands but they lack the character and history of Rusty Railing. If this is a eulogy, I feel I should say something profound now… but, worryingly for a writer, the words aren’t coming.
Thanks Rusty Railing, you’ve been a great support…