All photographs copyright Francis Barker 2020.
Hunstanton is one of the better seaside towns of Norfolk, in East Anglia, England.
With travel restrictions in place for most of the year, plus a curtailed holiday season, many Brits have been making the most of their own backyard, including traditional the traditional seaside.
Almost unique, the resort faces west, so is known for its spectacular sunsets. Not too hi-brow, it has a certain old world charm, with a sense of lived-in Victoriana, especially towards the end of the holiday season.
Copyright Francis Barker 2020
Without too much thought I took
to the beach,
followed the white lines of
leading me due north along that
in no time at all the beach huts were
removed by dunes and blurring
she was there
right in front of me, as if she’d
right out of the ether.
she was squatting down,
blonde haired and
her blue-green dress hitched up a touch
showing small bare feet
where the dry white sand
gave way to shingle.
but she didn’t even look!
staring into that wide expanse
she could see
clear across the ocean.
looking down I admired her
the delicate amber jewellery on
her long hair matted by
the keen breeze.
then she looked up,
her eyes like cyan gems
and pointed to herself–
‘Elfhild’ I thought she said
sounding sort of German
or Dutch or maybe something
but I didn’t speak a word.
she didn’t seem lost or in any distress
so I moved on,
giving her a faint wave,
after all, what business was it
I carried on steadily
maybe half a mile or so,
felt the wind move round
south to south east.
I could’ve done with a jumper so I
got up quite a pace in the end.
frankly I wanted to return
to see if she was alright –
but I saw only footprints
where she had been, where the shingle
gave way to sand.
walking to the shoreline something
caught my eye, a piece of amber
wet and shining.
I picked it up, held it
to the light
and smiled, looking out
to where the waves
were rolling in by the edge of
that German sea
Random Shot: “Sailing” Christopher Cross. When I first heard this song it really didn’t register much with me. Then as it started to climb the charts…RANDOM SHOT:” SAILING”- CHRISTOPHER CROSS
“We are the sun,” you said,
that his light arose with us
playing on rainbows,
his myriad smiles the spangled waves.
In those days thoughts were endless,
vibrant pages which turned by themselves.
There were no limits to how far we’d run
or dream out onto the sea,
our hearts living free in a peerless sky.
But thoughts like books do have an end
and I have died a billion times,
holding on to every word you said,
like a child might ask a question
between the pages of his lives
poem and image © copyright Francis Barker 2012 & 2020
This is an original oil painting, based on a scene in the harbour at Wells, North Norfolk, England.
It has been completed on stretched canvas and is unframed, size 51 x 41 cm.
copyright Francis Barker 2019.
This is an original oil painting of Heacham beach in west Norfolk, completed on stretched canvas, unframed. Size 51 x 41 cm.
copyright Francis Barker 2019
The coast of Northumberland in north east England is quite spectacular.
This is a painting based on a view of that coast near Bamburgh castle, the silhouette featured in this painting.
It is completed in oil on stretched canvas, size 41 x 31 cm, unframed.
copyright Francis Barker 2019
Once more we are here, leaving our mark in the sand,
each time like a beginning, distant memories
of our first sight of the sea and the stretching beach.
It’s a smile you can’t stop, a sense of freedom
among the elements and primary colour,
dead pan voices of young and old
muffled by wind and rolling wave.
We look out on that flat horizon
spoilt by scattered wind farms, feathered
by painterly coasts
and we walk and talk along the strand,
laugh at the silly names of beach huts
and wonder what we would call our own,
to sit in the sun
on one of those few good days of summer
with our rug and thermos,
munching make-do cream teas
bought on a budget.
It would be a life, I suppose
copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019
Part of our trip around Northern Ireland’s gorgeous County Antrim coast involved a stop at the world famous Giant’s Causeway.
I have to say that it was indeed everything I was expecting, from the cool, wet weather to the very touristy atmosphere.
That said, the place is simply stunning. Nothing can prepare you for walking over those truncated basalt columns, watching your step, while eyeing in disbelief that such a place actually exists, spreading out ahead of you towards the sea.
Made a World Heritage Site in 1986, the Giant’s Causeway lies right at the northern end of Northern Ireland.
The official story is that it’s between 50 and 60 million years old. In a nutshell, it’s the result of strong volcanic activity causing lava flows which formed a plateau, cooling relatively quickly, resulting in the distinctive hexagonal columns.
A similar process or effect occurs when mud dries in extreme heat, though you don’t get the height of the columns of course.
So much for the ‘official’ story. Any self respecting local here would tell you that’s all hogwash.
A Battle of Giants
What really happened, perhaps not that many generations ago, is that Finn MacCool, an Irish giant, was confronted by a Scottish giant challenger, called Benandonner. Finn, who couldn’t wait to tackle this upstart, built the causeway to get across the North Channel to Scotland.
There are basically two versions of the story. In one, Finn beats Benandonner conclusively. In the other Finn runs away from Benandonner after realising that he’s even bigger than himself.
So, using some feminine guile, Finn’s wife, called Oonagh, makes out her husband to be a baby, even going to the extent of placing him in a cradle.
Benandonner is fooled by this, thinking that if the baby is this big, then how big is the father? In shock, Benandonner trudges back across the causeway, taking it down on the way so Finn cannot follow him.
Science versus ‘Myth’
Strangely enough, in the corresponding part of Scotland around Fingal’s Cave on the isle of Staffa, there are some very similar columns of basalt.
Now, the scientific community would have us believe that this is merely part of the same lava flow from many millions of years ago. Of course it is.
But I know which explanation I prefer.
copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019
When I look down toward the beach,
the distant pier seems to stride
forward from the shining sea.
I like to look beyond,
to the bands of turquoise and blue,
an ocean painted in bold,
Why are we drawn to the waves?
Those elemental rhythms,
sounds and colours
of a primary world,
where sparse pointillist spots
busy themselves on
Some days the morning
unfolds through mists,
groynes spacing out
the distances along the strand,
until a final fade-out,
well before the sea
can meet the sky.
Overhead, pterodactyl shapes
patrol against fresh patches
of blue. As I approach,
the blurred semblances
of buildings appear, rectangles
feathered violet or grey,
as if stepping off the cliff.
copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019, 2011