Oh, Glorious Atlantic Ocean, how I’ve missed you! I know that I can’t really complain, as our lockdown has been far from claustrophobic, living out in the countryside as we do, but the call of the sea has always been very strong, no matter what time of the year. In fact, one of the main attractions of moving to West Cork was having the ocean as a part of our ordinary, rather than an exceptional, and expensive treat. The call to go and see the sea gets particularly loud in the summer – especially if the heat starts to climb and my aversion to cold Atlantic water dissipates in the sunshine.
Today as I sit writing this the temperature is a bit chilly, the wind is picking up and I can see the storm clouds that Met Eireann has predicted for the next few days lining up on the horizon, waiting to lash down on us. But lads – yesterday! Yesterday was a perfect summer’s day with the mercury hitting 25C and the sun’s heat gently cooled by a light sea breeze. Knowing that this was going to be the only really good day in a week, we decided to take the day off and go to the beach for the first time since the 5km restrictions were lifted. After all, we now had all of County Cork to explore. Then again, when you live in West Cork you don’t really need to go very far…
We are truly spoiled for choice. There are a dozen beautiful beaches and coves within twenty minutes of us, so it was difficult to choose which one to try. We settled on one of my favorite coves, which I first discovered as a tourist almost thirty years ago.
I was a bit worried about going there, as the road down to the water is a tight fit for two cars, especially in the summer when the Montbretia is spilling over the ditch. (I don’t enjoy backing up a winding narrow boreen.) I expected to find the tiny car park full and to have to manoeuver inch by inch to turn my car around. Still, I love that overgrown boreen, with its green canopy and golden disco ball light flitting through the vegetation. When the girls were little, I would tell them that this was definitely a place full of faeries. As I drove carefully down the road, the car windows open to the sounds of birdsong and trickling stream, my daughter even mentioned that it was so lush it felt like Thailand.
To our surprise once we broke out from under the shadows of the trees, we found the cove completely empty! There it was in all its glory: one of the most beautiful places in the world (this may sound a bit over the top, but I promise you that it is not). 360 degrees of beauty, totally empty except for a handful of gulls chasing a buzzard over the headland. The water at low tide was turquoise, the kelp sparkled golden in the sunlight, and the headland was just the right shade of green to offset the bright blue sky and grey rocks. It was truly magical – especially after over one hundred days without visiting the ocean. I love the green fields around our home, but nothing lifts my heart like the mix of blue water and blue sky filling the horizon, and nothing makes me more grateful to live in West Cork than a hot, sunny summer’s day to enjoy our amazing coastline.
As the lockdown eases, I find that I am not, as I had thought, rushing out to see people, or shop, or travel. We are not out of the crisis yet, and in any case, I’ve become rather fond of our splendid isolation. The lockdown taught me that the two things that I missed most were live music, and the ocean.
It may not be until August or September before we can enjoy a live gig again, but in the meantime the Atlantic is right there on our doorstep, and I for one intend to take full advantage. Which is why next week we will be celebrating my eldest daughter’s birthday on a boat, because the best way to enjoy our beautiful coastline is on the water. We will go fishing (mackerel and pollock!) and then do a bit of whale watching (there are humpbacks, minkes, and loads of dolphins!). I can’t wait!
Stay safe. Stay physically apart (Another great reason to get on the beach). Wear a mask in confined spaces, and most importantly – wash your hands.