The recent storms have redesigned the small patch of dunes beyond Whitburn’s fishermen’s cottages; the combination of wind and rain creating a new topography through erosion and subsidence, finished off with the addition of a large deposit of marine vegetation.

I’ve already photographed the uprooted tree stump earlier this week, but it was worth revisiting in daylight, where I encountered another man fascinated by its tortured sinews.  For him the stresses, strains and tensions that these roots had endured before their journey downstream were reminiscent of Edvard Munch‘s paintings popularly known as The Scream.

It surprised me to have a conversation about art here, and for a moment the man earned my admiration, though this was destroyed seconds later when he allowed his dog to do this while he turned his back and walked away, ignoring its defecation and defacement of the sands.

The other man who I conversed with today was more concerned for the environment.  He was cutting large section of kelp from a huge swathe that had been deposited at the high watermark.  His weapon of choice was a bread-knife.  Initially puzzled as to his intentions I then saw him produce a sturdy plastic sack and begin to fill it with the slippery fronds. “For the garden?” I asked, and he confirmed it.  He had known for years about the supposed power of seaweed as a fertilizer, but had recently found a recipe from Canada on the internet that told him how to prepare it.

“I hope I’m not doing anything illegal.” he said, “You have to be careful with the environment.”  I felt sure he wasn’t and told him as much.  His small sackful was as nothing compared to the tons of weed along the beach; weed that from my experience would dry out and rot before being removed by the council.

He told me he would rinse the weed to remove the salt and then place into a container of water which he would stir every three days until the mixture began to mature.  The result would be too strong to use neat he said and would require further dilution.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that whilst I enjoy listening to Gardeners’ Question Time on the radio I am no horticulturist.  Not unless you count the ability to provide perfect conditions for the spread of lawn mosses and Creeping Charlie!

While we talked another three men arrived to take advantage of the sea’s bounty, though on a larger scale.  These were allotment holders so I left George to compare notes with them.



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