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Cedar Gansey, Week 7: 27 August

It’s been a pretty gruelling week, albeit one surprisingly lacking in actual gruel, so we went out to Noss Head to look at the ocean and recharge the spiritual batteries. Imagine our chagrin when we reached the car park to find cars, actual cars, parked there. (I’ve checked in my Caithness dictionary and yes, up here this constitutes a crowd, viz.: Crowd, n., At least two camper vans and a hatchback rental car in the same parking lot, plus one person faintly visible anywhere within a radius of two miles; see also Throng, Mob, etc.)

So instead of following the teeming hordes (both of them) to Castle Sinclair, for a change we took a path less travelled over the headland to the nearby cliffs. After a quarter of a mile the ground sloped away quite dramatically and we soon found ourselves at the foot of a narrow cleft flanked by high rocky walls, standing on a sandy beach with the sweep of Sinclair’s Bay before us. This is Sandy Goe; a goe (or geo) being Old Norse for this kind of inlet. (I’m wondering if this is the right moment for my celebrated “A hod’s as good as a sink to a blind Norse” joke, and I’m thinking, on reflection, probably not.)

You’d never know it was there; hundreds of people every year must, like us, pass it by on the way to the crumbling castle ruins. But it’s completely lovely, a tiny strip of sand surrounded by slabs of stone at crazy angles, as though God had decided to experiment with Escher geology on somewhere out of the way, and then draped it with seaweed. As we’re discovering, this is the fractal nature of the Caithness coastline: the closer you look the more you see.

In gansey news, well, there’s not a lot. I’m progressing nicely down the first sleeve. I decided to make the sleeve’s pattern band the same depth as the ones on the yoke: it’s slightly narrower than I usually do—4 inches instead of 5 or 6 inches—but it seemed to fit somehow. I should finish this sleeve over the next week if I’m lucky.

And now we’re off on our holidays (starting today), off down to Edinburgh and Northampton to see family and friends, chasing the sun in a desperate race to make summer last. Did you know, John Lennon originally wrote his classic psychedelic nostalgia trip Strawberry Fields about Northampton, before Paul McCartney thankfully persuaded him to change the lyrics?

Let me take you down
Cause I’m going to Northampton town
You’re unlikely to drown
Unless you accidentally fall in the canal
Abington Street forever.

Mind you, McCartney’s original opening to Penny Lane wasn’t much better:

Milton Keynes is in my ears and in my eyes,
There’s lots of shops, it’s where I go to buy my pies.”

Ah, what might have been… See you all next week!

5 comments to Cedar Gansey, Week 7: 27 August

  • Annie

    Always enjoy and appreciate your Monday morning posts, Gordon. There are several examples of what may be Escher geology in my part of the world, reservations in the US West, where there can be a jumble of several kinds of rocks and their colors and formations including medas and buttes. We think of it as the gods leftovers from making and organizing zing the rest of the work, though, with no other place to put the odds and ends.

    • Annie

      … mesas and buttes
      ….gods’ leftovers
      …organizing the rest of the world

      (Really, no more of that awfully good beer for breakfast.)

  • =Tamar

    Noss Head sounds as though it ought to have been An Oss Head at some time in the past.

    There is some Escher geology in the Appalachians as well, visible where the roadworks have cut through and shown the folded layers of stone.

    Online articles agree: despite Allen Ginsberg’s 15 minutes of fame, revision and editing are the making of most writing.

  • Lois

    I think god must have tossed around the leftovers after creating Hopewell Rocks in my part of the world. http://www.thehopewellrocks.ca

    Probably the tide was coming in and there was nowhere left. So the odds and ends got chucked in every direction to tidy things up for the fish, who are devoted housecleaners.

  • Jane Callaghan

    Have you read Neil Gaiman’s novella ‘Monarch of the Glen’? It sounds as if Sandy Goe would be the perfect setting for it and Northampton the perfect place to read it 🙂

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