An unscheduled meander

January 17, 2018 by Ray Morgan

Last Sunday, the weather felt specifically January-ish: crisp, chilly, hat-gloves-and-scarf weather, but with an electric blue sky, and cold white sun.

We'd had a lazy morning; grilled tomatoes on toast and cups of tea reading Saturday's paper, before meeting a friend for yet more tea at Corner Club. Amazingly, we got a table inside; other people had to make do with sitting outside, which is fine for a while, but we wanted cosy.

I looked at a group of teenage girls on the table next to us while we waited for our tea. They were all slouched, sullen and not talking to each other, just stabbing at identical rose-gold iPhones. Was I that miserable? I thought to myself, looking at the happy, relaxed faces of us in-our-thirties folks.

We were plotting fun things. Exciting cultural things which I'll tell you about another day. We made notes and drank tea and got excited about what's to come.

After our tea, Jo and I decided to go for a walk. It was too good a day to stay in - we were out, the cold hadn't broken us, and the sun felt nourishing. The tide was half-in, half-out, one of my favourite times. Down by the Wilton ship, just shy of the Gypsy Bridge, the water was impossibly sparkly, dancing burnt-magnesium-white on our eyelids if we closed our eyes. The bare trees of the cliff gardens were dramatic, Jack Skellington limbs against the sky, and I obsessively took photos like I always do of tree silhouettes. I can't get enough of them.

We walked further into Old Leigh, where the disappearing tide made a show of the undulations of our dear estuary mud. If anyone said mud could never be beautiful, I'd bring them to Old Leigh on a tide-out afternoon, with its grey curves and orca-sleekness, the long shadows of birds pecking the smooth surface. We browsed in the gorgeous new OtherLetters shop where the Lynn Tait Gallery once stood, planning decor for all our future parties. We sat outside the Billet with a drink, and it bustled as though on a summer day. People walked dogs (we talked about how great it would be if we had a dog), others ate seafood, drank pints of beer or held their hands round warming cups of tea. I made Jo wait around for me to take a picture of a huge container ship going by. At times they zip fast, but this time it slow-steamed in slow-mo. I took more pictures on the curly bridge, filling up my phone with the same cockle boats I've been snapping all my life.

We walked home via Billet Lane, laughing with another couple who were just behind us, as it got so steep we couldn't talk. But it was worth it for the view at the top. Gold sun blaring on the estuary mud, the tall cranes of the port in the distance, the cold afternoon relaxing into itself. It got chillier. We hurried home, for yes you've guessed it - another cup of tea. Blankets and candles, all the hygge-ish things you need on a chilly Sunday afternoon. We could have easily gone straight home after our morning outing, but I'm glad we took a detour, off-plan - especially when the town had its Sunday best on for us.


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