Our dog is a lucky creature. Living as we do a few miles away from Morecambe, she gets a walk along the prom nearly every day. Even though the sea goes out a long way, I doubt she goes a week without breathing sea air. Maybe she realises how lucky she is, but probably not.
My first dog spent most of his life far from the seaside, in North London and Birmingham. I’m not sure how old he was when he first saw the sea at Southend, but I’ll never forget his reaction. There’s a sea wall, probably 3 feet high, and being half border terrier (we never knew what the other half was) he couldn’t see a first, but his nose was sniffing like crazy, I lifted him up, he just stared. Wide-eyed, mouth agape, he scanned one way, then the other, then looked back at me with the biggest smile he could muster. He ran, ran, ran, and then when he’d finished running, he ran some more. Dogs undoubtedly like the seaside.
Back to the lucky Tess, whose owners are also lucky, as we get to see Morecambe Bay and the view across to the Lakeland Hills. The weather gets in the way much of the time of course, either the Cumbrian fells are invisible, drenched in cloud, or on a bright day, hazy and indistinct. Even so, it has to be one of the best views I know, always changing, often beautiful.
As I’ve mentioned, the sea goes out a long way here, often the view consists of mud and sand with a backdrop off hills. This can look quite good, but it is only really at it’s best when the tide is in.
As a keen photographer, you’d expect me to have hard drives full of great shots of the lovely views across the bay, so many opportunities, local knowledge, just down the road, etc. etc. Well, no. I’ve got a few, but they are rare. For a whole range of reasons, I don’t get as many great images as you might think.
For one, I don’t take my camera with me every time, the majority of the time the weather is not ideal. When the climate if kinder in summer, the sun tends to be high in the sky, the light is flat, the hills have no shadows and look two-dimensional and the sea reflects so much light that it’s hard to get the exposure correct. That is if the sea is anywhere to be seen, it may well be 5 miles away. High tide only occurs for a few hours each day, and Tess is rather keen on routine, walks the same time each day, which will only coincide with high tide a couple of times a month. The wind doesn’t help either, the sea is rarely deep enough to get dramatic stormy waves. Six inch high ripples don’t help a photograph at all, they break up the light, but add nothing to the image.
However, there are those rare occasions when everything comes together. The tide will be in, the sky is blue, the sea is calm, the sun sits low near the horizon throwing shadows and warm light across Lakeland. Even then, how many times have I missed it? Loads, forgot to take the camera, forgot the batteries were flat, just forgot to even think about it.
Last weekend though, everything came together. A beautiful winter’s afternoon, November sun on its way down, cloudless sky, frosty, tide in. We arrived at the front to be greeted by a perfect soft blue smooth sea, it’s a view I could never tire of seeing. When Morecambe Bay is like this, everything seems to turn the most delicate egg-shell blue. The sea resembles acres of gently undulating blue velvet, the sky is so soft you can feel it.
This time I had my camera, 50mm prime lens, full batteries, empty memory card, and just to make the scene more interesting a few gulls were idly flapping past just off the coast. They were even kind enough to line up in formation when I pressed the shutter. A perfect scene. I hope you like the photos, and they give you some sense of how lucky Tess feels to have this right on her doorstep.