In a county of magnificent castles, this is certainly one of the grander ones we’ve found on the beach which extends beneath the glory of the real Bamburgh fortification. Mornings are the time we view and judge the previous day’s sandcastle-making, varying in complexity and success, it has to be said. We were on Bamburgh beach on our daily run even earlier than usual, just after six, and the early start brought intensified pleasures – a very low tide, nobody about at all, just us and the sea, and – of our little band – me alone off the lead for the entire long run! Though the smallest and youngest of the Dickens Dogs, this little spaniel has proved the most trustworthy, the most obedient, the least greedy for seaweed, and consequently I am free to roam and follow my spanielisms wherever they take me – which in fact is never very far from Kemo Sabe and the boys. There’s been a smelly old dead seal (poor creature) on a far shore for a while now, but I pass it by with but a distasteful glance, and from a distance, quite unlike the boys who always want to get up really close and get covered in its appalling scent. When the magic mood moves me, I run across and high-five Barnaby, sharing my joy and exuberance when I want. Natural things are so wonderful right now: the days are extra long, the birds are thrilling us with their songs all day, the grass keeps growing, Springwatch is on BBC2 and the creatures in our homely menagerie provide constant comment.
How incomparably lucky we are to enjoy the peace and striking beauty of the miles of Bamburgh beach! As I write, we are constantly and quite rightly reminded by what we hear on the radio and read about the D-Day beaches, and what was happening on and around them seventy years ago. Our hearts and imaginations are filled with gratitude and humility as we stand in a gentle breeze and breath the pure air from the North Sea, remembering the endurance and courage of all those for whom, that day, interminable noise and horror were inescapable. And the journey to Berlin had only but begun. We will remember them, all of them.
It was broad day-light and a summer day,
a secret. We were taken in:
enigma once again.
A cry in memory – a beautiful day
like a phoenix, we showed them
a different kind of dawn
then; I wonder if we could again.
It’s always been when the sun is out
when you tell the truth –
shame the devil – that it happens all right.
So, today, I think for the first time
of others, waiting in the back room
waiting in vain behind the wrong blockade –
‘This is no time to try to worry us:
The sun is shining. This is no place to land.’
Written in 1969 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of D-Day