The coastal town of Arnside is famous for its sunsets. Two rivers; the Bela and the Kent, flow out into Morecambe Bay through the arches of the famous long viaduct that connects Arnside with Grange-over-Sands on the way to Barrow-in-Furness, famous for our nuclear submarines.
But this is a wet Monday, and Tess, our collie dog, is familiar with a different drill, as I drive to Arnside to find a place for her to chase her high-bouncing ball and give her enough exercise to last till the day after.
In contrast to the glorious sunsets, this Monday morning looks like this:
(Above: Arnside promenade: the hidden triangle of dog-perfect foreshore)
It’s another wet, Cumbrian Monday. The summer feels long-gone. The collie is bored and, as, statistically, I’m the primary dog-carer, I like to take her somewhere that will tick several boxes with the same amount of petrol.
Tess knows the drill… That small patch of green in the photo above is a triangle of land just big enough to give her a substantial ‘chuck’, before the two of us head to one of the nearby cafes to collect a take-away coffee and a slice of cake, usually lemon drizzle cake, for which the Wagtail Cafe is justly famous. Due to Covid restrictions, the sit-down part of the cafe has been re-arranged into a flow diagram to route you in past the cake counter and till, then back out, again…
Equipped with coffee and cake, we retreat to the end of the small pier and huddle from the wind and rain. With coat, hat and hood keeping me dry, and the patient and (by now) well-chucked collie sitting beside me watching the hopeful pigeons. It’s straight out of one of Allan Bennet’s witty and wonderfully observed tales of human oddity.
Once fed and watered, we make our way back to the place where we respectively throw and chase the ball. The large triangle of level grass that forms the foreshore is hidden from the road at a lower level. You have to know it’s there. There’s a lot of sand around Morecambe bay and a much of it is quicksand and treacherous. But this small plateau is perfect for our purposes. Only the occasional high tide makes it unusable.
Tess gets a second round of exercise, then we get back in the car and meander gently home via Milnthorpe, a small town built at a crossroads where you can pretty much buy one of everything.
Drizzle Mondays, we call them. A pun on the combination of cake and rain. Sometimes, we think back to some of the great sunsets we’ve seen at Arnside… and it’s all worth it.
©Stephen Tanham, 2020
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness.