On the first weekend in October we returned to the sea. A congested rush-hour ride on the Northern Line followed by a wait in the smoggy confines of Liverpool Street made arriving in darkness, greeted by the brisk saline air and the stars sharpened by the cold, all the more thrilling. Ask me any day where I’d most like to be and my answer will likely be here: this quiet stretch of flat coastline in eastern England, pebbled beaches and dogged sea holly galore. I love it in any weather, any season. There’s something about the place – its remoteness, likely, and the cold true air – that instantly calms and satisfies me. Those places that make you feel more you? As though you’ve been walking two feet behind yourself all this time and have finally caught up with yourself again? That’s how Suffolk makes me feel.
We spent the weekend in a terraced house, its front door bordered with lavender, two streets from the sea. The days were marked by the sort of contented moments that, if only I could, I would press between the pages of a book like a flower, so that I could return to them always. I am an introvert, through and through, but my desire to be alone often means I forget how much I enjoy spending time with people I love, and how much I need company, conversation, companionship. It was a treat and a half to spend a whole weekend with seven lovely friends. A treat and a half to roast sea bass fresh from the water on the barbeque in the long skinny garden. A treat to stand on bare tiptoes, the grass laced with dew, in an attempt to reach the fruit weighing down the boughs of next door’s apple tree. (Aside: not happening, not when you’re 5’4.) A treat to spend Sunday knitting in the noontime sun, surrounded by the laughter and puckered brows of the others as they grappled with crossword puzzles, the sun humming warm on our backs.
The two of us stood under the stars on Saturday night in the garden of that house two streets from the sea, eyes trained on the sky. It was clear, black as jet, the stars twinkling clear as a lighthouse in the dark on that cold crisp night. Isn’t it strange, I said, leaning into his embrace. Isn’t it strange that this light may have died millions of years ago? And that we’re only seeing it now? Thinking about the infinities of space, the wide wide world beyond ours, induces in me the same feeling that Suffolk does – a calm, a serenity, a feeling that nothing much matters bar this. Nothing but the salt-encrusted air and the thud of the waves as they reach the shore, summoned back by the tug of the moon. Nothing but the crunch of razor clams beneath battered boots and the strength coursing through my legs as we walk and walk and walk, hair whipped by the wind, lips dried by the salty breeze and heart happier than anywhere else on Earth.
(photos) on film with Pentax ME Super | Suffolk | October 2015