With abject apologies to a pretty little village, my first thoughts on parking our car next to the ancient harbour weren’t exactly positive. I had completely overdone things the day before by driving all the way down to Somerset, climbing to the highest point on Cheddar Gorge, falling over and then racing to get to the B&B before the owners went to bed. Nine o’clock they had said, but it was already 7.45 p.m. by the time I updated them from the top of Jacob’s Ladder and I still had 274 steps to negotiate and then an uphill trek to the car.
Everything had gone wrong since leaving home that morning. The motorway had been closed for some time due to an accident and traffic was slow. The hired Sat Nav had thrown a wobbler and refused to plan a route, so I had to dig around for our old and very tatty map in the hope I could remember which way to go. I had planned on a leisurely lunch, in the knowledge that I was unlikely to find any time for dinner – that night, or indeed, any other while I was away. There was nothing on offer for a vegetarian, so I had to settle for an overpriced snack. My budget clearly wasn’t going to last at that rate and I was thankful I had packed a few bottles of drink and a packet of biscuits.
It was when I called the B&B as promised, that I realised I could never drive down to them, unload the car and drive a couple of hours back to Cheddar. I quickly formed a cunning plan to do that location first, but then I had no keys to let myself in to the accommodation at the end of the day. I must be the only person who asks permission before booking a room, as I am usually up and out well before dawn and I never return until after dark. The couple were incredibly kind and they stayed up to see me back safe and sound that first night. I could only reward them by saying I would be up at a more sensible time the next morning. I needed to clean my equipment and after falling over in Cheddar, my swollen knee would be grateful for a rest.
As it happened, the following day began with a thick fog moving in from the sea and everything was grey and murky. I had already planned to do Porlock Weir for sunrise. I stuck to the plan, but arrived a few hours later and much closer to high tide. I would have expected the place to be busier, but as I parked the car I noted that there seemed to be no-one else around save for one of the locals cutting the grass along the verge. Remnants of the fog still lingered and apart from the steady drone from the strimmer, the place appeared to be uninhabited. Tables sat quite empty by the harbour wall, with the planted tubs looking as though they had seen better days. “Glass blowing daily” said a nearby sign and yet the doors to the studio were shut and all was dark inside.
I wandered down one side of the harbour and by the time I got back, there were a few signs of life. A lovely elderly couple were walking their dogs and a handful of late visitors were starting to fill up the car park. I crossed the little bridge and stepped gingerly over the pebbles to stand by the groynes. I was far too tired to think about photography, but I set up the tripod anyway. I stood there for some time, with no idea of what to do and yet reluctant to pack everything up again. Then I heard the “phut, phut, phut” of a little boat making its way through the narrow channel right in front of the camera. It was nearly too late before I realised the opportunity and at the last moment I grabbed the cable release. With a slow shutter speed selected for the gloomy conditions, it nearly wasn’t enough for a moving subject and I almost deleted the image there and then. I’m so glad I didn’t because it reminds me of a couple of hours spent in a pretty little seaside village. Out of season and with less than ideal conditions perhaps, but it was the trip that got me going again when all I really wanted to do was to drive back home and get some well deserved rest. The sun came out not long after this was taken, but I prefer this. It has mood.