Spring

A spot of spring to lift the spirits....

The winters here are, without a doubt, becoming stormier. It’s not that long ago that winter sea kayak outings were reasonably regular yet of late days not defined by high winds (and rain) seem to be increasingly few and far between, and oddly this morning, in early April, is the first time I’ve seen ice in the yard all winter.

Godrevy Light during one of the storms that happened over the winter… I can’t remember what it was called… the one with all the red weather warnings. It was spectacularly windy with no possibility of stopping for a pee against a wall/hedgerow/whatever without most of it ending up in your face.

It’s been a while since the motivation was there to write anything at all.. January and February were dark months, both literally and figuratively speaking, and one wondered what the point to posting anything at all might be. Eventually diagnosed with PTSD as a consequence of being driven into last year, the cumulative burnout of two pandemic years of working flat out, and added worries around the uncertainty and vulnerability of self employment during these “everything seems awful” times all felt quite a heavy burden, although trivial in comparison to those being borne elsewhere in the world; such is the nature of individual human experience I suppose, and western privilege/expectation….

The arrival of some spring sunshine and spells of dry weather to harden the trails and lift the spirits has made quite a difference

The relationship with my bike changed fundamentally such that my usual mechanism for coping was no longer available to me – combined with worries over the persistent ankle injury I increasingly found riding to be stressful rather than enjoyable and would return home feeling miserable and mentally exhausted rather than refreshed and energised. It’s almost impossible to avoid cars hurtling though the lanes around here and in mid-winter many of the trails are simply unrideable slop so there were few escapes. The arrival of some spring sunshine and spells of dry weather to harden the trails and lift the spirits has made quite a difference, and I feel able to look forward once again. At some point there will be some counselling help on the way but with services overwhelmed it could be a while, but time, and, hopefully some adventures along the way, will help resolve all this anyway, I’m sure; plans are afoot to just hit the road again for a bit and that is always good. In the meantime there is probably still no point at all to this post but there are a few pictures and small stories that might represent a small (very small) positive net contribution to an internet that too frequently feels like an overwhelmingly bleak place.

Loe Bar. Actually the last photo I took during 2021. New Years Eve had been a miserable foggy, drizzly day but desperate for an escape I trundled over to the Bar.. the mist and drizzle lifted briefly to allow some diffuse light from the low winter sun to penetrate the gloom. The soft scene was rather painterly with the scattered groups of people, and the patterns of the waves sweeping up the beach.
A winter dip.  I tried to get back into the habit of just trundling the few miles to the beach for a spot of contemplation, a mental “reset” from time to time; habits are hard to build however and, mostly, I failed. On this occasion however I did prise myself out, and the patterns formed by the waves across the sand were quite mesmerising. Must try harder.
A winters day on the water.. a rare calm spell and that classic winter high pressure light. Near Prussia Cove. I like the distinctive profile of a shag launching from the rock on the right.
A brighter day below the cliffs of Dodman Point.
Dodman Point
Gwennap Head has long been a favourite spot to head to on a bike. Pack a flask and sandwiches and make a day of it. It’s a good place to spot choughs and enjoy views of the granite coast without having to endure the ghastly spoil of Lands End farther west. View looking west to the Longships Light, and Lands End.
The weather was cold and gloomy, but not too horribly windy, and not raining so it felt like a good opportunity to try and get back into some sort of riding habit…. there’s a way to go yet.
On the way home, a stop to sit amongst the ancient standing stones of the Merry Maidens near St Buryan.
It felt like something of a turning point.. there was a day, not long ago, riding home one evening, having been to catch up with a couple of friends, when it suddenly struck me how marvellous it was to be trundling along on dry roads without a howling gale, without any rain, and with the softness in the air that only spring can bring. It was late enough too that all the drivers were already at home on the sofa.
Spells of “feeling mostly alright about everything” became more frequent and with daylight arriving earlier, and more appealing weather, the opportunity for a few enjoyable “dawn patrols” presented themselves.
There is very short window of opportunity now to enjoy home properly before the queues of visitors form and the county becomes constipated with Range Rovers.
It’s not often these days in Cornwall that a reasonably accessible beach can look as empty as this on a day like this…. A few visiting walkers made for some pleasant conversation in the sunshine and everyone was smiling, it was great.
The same spot back in January.
Early spring… this is a footpath rather than bridle path.. but at this time of year nobody I meet seems to care. It’s better, and safer, than the road.
The “Penwith Prairie”…
Exceedingly boggy during the winter months, a few weeks of strong, bone-dry easterlies dried the trails out beautifully. Slop is tolerable but more often than not by late winter I just can’t be bothered….
First visit to the Boskednan Nine Maidens for quite a while.
Spring trails… it’s impossible not to feel better when it’s like this.
Ruins on the Tin Coast.
More paddling.. on Wednesday some friends asked if I wanted to come out to play. I did. I love the shape and scale of this boulder.
We launched out of Mullion for a trip south along the Lizard Peninsula.
It was a good day with some fun swirly bits around the rocks to play with.. plastic rather than composite boats a benefit.. I only have a composite kayak but keep plenty of gelcoat in the shed…
Still some significant groundswell rolling in from the Atlantic making “gap surfing” an exercise in timing.. here pausing for a heavy set to pass before our companions could follow through that gap in the background.
A lunch stop on the sand bar at Kynance Cove before making the return journey.

10 thoughts on “Spring

  • Sorry to hear about the darkness. Winter is a hard enough time in general, and to deal with depression/PTSD does not sound fun, especially if you are denied your best coping mechanism. Riding definitely helps me get out of a funk, and if I couldn’t ride every once in a while I’d be even deeper down. And I also know how hard it is to try to build good habits, especially as we age. Wishing you the best.

    PS-Nice photos!

    • hey cheers… I never expected that the events of last year would end up infecting most aspects of life for a while, it just defined everything with visits to the physio, persistent ankle problems cycling and hiking (the mainstay of lif really), stress when around cars – which are kind of hard to avoid these days unfortunately. winter made it worse for sure. I felt a bit embarrassed at times given i’d got away without serious physical injury but there’s no logic to depression…. Still, onwards and upwards!

  • I was thinking a week or so ago that it had been a long time since a “Daily Digest for Sea Surf” email dropped into my inbox to brighten the start to my day. I’m sorry you’ve been enveloped in more than just winter darkness. As you suggest I’m sure the lighter mornings, and now evenings, will at least help to lift you and rekindle your enthusiasm for the outdoors. There is always a point to your posts even if you may not be sure of it at the time. Keep getting out there and posting beautiful pictures of Cornwall at its best. I look forward to hearing about an adventure soon.

    • hey Mike, thanks for the kind words, means a lot. As I replied to the comment above.. I did not expect things to go downhill like that, it’s been many years since that black cloud grew so large… combination of multiple triggers and longer-term factors I suppose.
      I hope you’re keeping well!

      • All good here thanks – or as good as can be given that the world seems like a darker place all the time. As you said in your other reply there is no logic to depression – fortunately I’m not prone to it but my wife has been on & off for many decades so I have exposure to its debilitating effects and the complete inabilty of reason to overcome it. Like many people I get a bit down sometimes but it’s not the same thing as true depression – I think unless you’ve experienced it either yourself or close at hand you simply have no idea. Anyway as you say – onwards and upwards (and I would add – outwards).

        • I’m sorry to hear about your wife, having an understanding partner is really important and is sounds like that is what she has :-) I’m definitely in a better place again now, able to ‘bootstrap’ myself into some more forward looking things :-)

  • Hi Mike, so glad to see you back writing and sharing from a very beautiful part of the world.

    I really hope that the coming summer, and time will help heal wounds of both the body and more importantly the mind.

    So spend the time on yourself to find the things that bring the light to you (your fantastic images and writings bring a great deal of joy to me) Sounds like you have a solid bunch of mates that you kayak with, lean on these guys when the light is low.

    All the best.

    Stephen.

    • hey Stephen, cheers! I do have a few good mates here, it’s true. They have families of their own so I try not to bother them really. I’m lucky to have an understanding family too, although again, don’t want to be a nuisance. I learned a number of strategies over the years, the main one being to simply remember that clouds do pass. It just takes time (and a bicycle :-)

      I hope you’re keeping well!

      • Hi Mike, please be a bother and a nuisance when you need to, there is not a friend or family member who would not hesitate to listen or lend a hand when needed.

        And your hobbies and interests are certainly a great asset to have, a blue bird day out on my bikes or in the last year back out in the surf, on a SUP these days, lifts my mood and spirits. Also a good walk around with a camera when the mood takes.

        Been in home isolation the last few weeks with COVID, so just to sit outside with the sun on my face is the best I can manage at the moment.

        Thanks again for the fantastic images you post, in a world crushed with photos everyday your calm, yet perfectly composed images shine.

        Stephen.

        • hey, cheers, and you’re far too kind! sorry to hear about Covid, I wish you a speedy recovery. so far I’ve avoided it… to best of my knowledge anyway.

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