Tuesday, 28 July 2015


It was turning into Budleigh Salterton all over again.

My mother took me for a weekend when I was twelve. It rained the entire time; the sea was rough; the wind buffeted and forced us to squint as we struggled along the coastal path. I couldn't get near the water. It was supposed to be special, but I only remember the distance between the experience and the ideal.

Now here I was on a Sunday afternoon on the north Devon coast, eyes straining against an unforgiving gale, hair in my face defiant of a dozen hairpins, alone and trying not to fall over. Inappropriately dressed in skirt and heeled boots, laughing grimly at my absurd romantic notion that a day at the seaside would reinvigorate me somehow.

I feel small by the sea. It has always brought me a calm and grounding sense of place - not insignificance, but something like reverence. In the salt air and drowned out by the constant grumbling roar of Atlantic waves, I am centred, as if it knows me and I know it and the roles we play.

But not today. Today it isn't loud enough; today I cannot lose my petty unease, my navel-gazing. I hunker down in view of sand and sea and pebbles, soft grey boulders reaching into the mist and ringed in white, and I am miserable somehow. My own vitality is not replenished by the life around me, not as I expected and hoped.

Then of course I realise that my problem is bigger than the sea, to me - it's a problem of perspective. The ocean is no sticking plaster to the troubled soul. It demands nothing of me and therefore I do not give. I am used to feeling put-upon, in some way like I have to yield and that is how I reach a remedy. Without the demand for me to give myself up, I remain passive.

I now know what it is that I am here for - I want to be obliterated. To fight is to tire, but to surrender is to rest. I have come to the sea to surrender, but she won't accept my terms; I have no choice but to keep fighting, and I'm tired.

The cold, steel-blue waves; the soft green land; the milky pebbles and the unrelentingly grey skies, so vast and yet my spirit is indomitable. And do I want to be indomitable? Today, it seems I do not have a choice. And as I fight my way up the harsh incline of the pebble ridge I remember - what do I remember?

I remember that when I fight, I conquer and I laugh.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015



I am the big one.
The big sister.
The tallest.
The towerer-over, still insisting on wearing heels.
The one you tell to sit down
So you don't feel intimidated.

I am the big one.
Big hips.
Swaying, walking, dancing.
The one you can't lend your dress
Because I'll stretch it.

I am the big one.
Big thighs.
Long legs.
Can't fold elegantly into the back of the car,
The one that makes you budge up on the sofa.

I am the big one.
Big ideas.
Talking, laughing, singing.
Asking questions, wanting to know.
The one you think might be more chat than substance.

I am the big one.
Big dreams.
Up at night writing.
The one who may be better at the theory than the practice.

I always have been.
I don't mind it.
I don't mind taking up space,
Physical, mental, philosophical.
I don't want to diminish.
I don't want to cower.
I have no plans to apologise.
I have no plans to stop.
This is what I was made to be -