Last year when we visited south Cornwall I didn’t think anywhere else UK coastal could evoke such strong emotions in me. I completely understood why many creative types relocated to the South West with its rugged, broken shoreline, battering winds and waves, purple storms and pure blue sunshine; it was like breathing some invisible drug – intoxicating and life changing.
I once wrote a post, The Hanging Gardens of Heligan, which detailed this visit and how inspired I was. It was as if in some other life I had been one of Du Maurier’s heroines, a tormented soul that wandered the moors and Cornish coast lines. Invigorating was definitely the word and I didn’t think anything else would make me feel the same tingle and refreshment.
But North Wales has its place in this world of natural inspiration.
Although the rather cloudy photograph doesn’t do any kind of justice, Aberdaron on the end of the Lleyn Peninsular caused creative images and ideas to flash into my mind, flooding my senses with detailed description and rich, believable characters. Our day here started cold, but only briefly. By mid morning the sun flooded the long and barely populated stretch of soft sand. The waves crashed playfully and the air was full with all those memories of childhood; seaweed and sandcastles, digging huge holes, dancing around jellyfish and attempting to outwit waves!
It was wonderful. We sat lazily on our picnic blanket looking out to sea and the bird like sails that lapped in circles on the horizon. It was a Saturday at the end of the school holidays and the place tiny but I was still in shock at the lack of people making the most of these rare summer days.
But even more inspiring was the late afternoon weather. In the distance, a moving whiteness loomed from nowhere. Gradually the edges of the main land were obscured, as too were the small uninhabited islands before us. The waves grew larger and sounds became muffled as this bleak grey shawl wrapped the whole bay. We did not move, it was still warm and dry. The cloud did not once bring with it rain, but a very eerie sense of calm. Each end of the beach could no longer be seen and the seagulls no longer cawed. It was as if a spell had been cast and the rest of the world, save this tiny piece of beauty, had vanished at the hand of some evil foe. You could almost drink in the mystical atmosphere.
But, as quickly as it came it seemed to vanish once more. The magic was over and replaced with the earlier radiance of a sinking sun. By now the few who had frequented the beach that day had vanished with the cloud and we were free to wander the sands entirely unhindered. As stomachs began to growl we headed back into the hamlet like village in order to forage for food, and lo another childhood memory sprang to the fore; fish and chips eaten in the wrapper as the sun sinks into the greyish blue of the sea.
Although entirely different to the Cornish coast, this corner of Wales certainly created an equal sense of belonging in me. And it struck me just how lucky we are to have this country of ours. We have such a wealth of beauty and inspiration locked in this little island it is hard to understand the need to escape it as often as possible.
It made me think us crazy as a species to always want what we don’t have, the ‘grass is always greener’ syndrome. Yes I am excited at the prospect that in a month I will have seen the bright Nevada lights and experienced the grand canyon first hand, but the UK has its own special blend of the spectacular. Our beauty may be on a smaller scale to the grand canyon, but I will put my money and my life on the fact that here, on our lowly rock, we have more natural wonder than a thousand such canyons.
We are very lucky. I am very lucky. I know that if, when and where I need inspiration for my own creativity, I can find it on my own doorstep. I am thoroughly spoiled!