© Noel Harrower 2018
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                     The Exmouth Shoreline.  Dancing the Dream From Orcombe Point to Exmouth Quay two miles of shoreline reach an ever shifting seascape, where islands re-emerge and sails and kites and jet-skis dance, where tides and currents surge. By green-fringed cliffs, red rocks are washed and lawns of seaweed gather and when the tide withdraws again the shell-strewn beach is scoured. Then toes are dipped, tails are wagged and hot dogs are devoured. Walk on – past empty bathing huts and people snoring in their cars. Four silken banners taunt the wind flaunting their ammonites, shells and stones - Triassic tales and secrets locked at Orcombe heights. Sandhills shield the bathers’ beach where schoolgirls strut their bright bikinis and youngsters play on plastic floats and brothers sail their rubber boats and fathers dig their castle moats while mothers meditate. And then, the sports beach live with kites ballooning in aspiring heights, caught by the wind, hit by the spray. Jet skis roar across the bay! Proceed along the promenade - ice-cream vendors by the yard – “Fish for mackerel.” “Ride a donkey!” Children’s playground – “Swim with swans!” paddle-power, then roundabout, swinging low and swinging high - lifeboat men are standing by! Exotic flowers by the Pavilion, striped umbrellas at the tables, motor cyclists riding pillion, clock tower, then the esplanade - Victorian homes with white facade. Mind the slipway, pass the pub, here’s the quay where fishboats land their haddock, sea bass, dabs and bream. Stuart’s cruises - “£6 for a Jurassic Tour - roundtrip to Sidmouth - back by 4” - and water taxis ply their trade –  to Starcross or to Dawlish Warren.   Pass the swing bridge at the harbour, once alive with cargoed ships, then a desolate muddy patch, now a playground for the rich. Through the boatyard to the meadow, take the path beside the Exe, retreat of turnstone, redshank, dunlin, Canada goose and avocet.   Vistas widen on the headland where currents are sucked into sea and bare masts tilt and tip and                         dream of voyages to be.                                ---------------------------------------------

OUR OLDEST RESIDENT

Of all the birds upon the shore I am the smartest one – the neatest preamed, the primest, the one that’s never gone. The Fulmars fly the Arctic, the Egrets came from Spain, the Falcons leave for Grecian Isles, but I stay – just the same. I’m the Common Exmouth Herring Gull. no Kittiwake am I, with yellow beak and reddish shanks I swoop down from the sky to gobble everything in sight as fast as I can try. Herring was my first delight but now my diet is wide, fried cod and chips. Kebabs, ice cream oh, everything’s been tried but Exmouth mussels are the best on all the beaches in the west. Seize it and then fly up to drop it on a rocky spit to split and then devour it – oh, Exmouth mussels are the best on all the beaches in the west. Each winter twitchers come in flocks to film the birds upon the Exe – they drive down here from Birmingham or coach from Middlesex. They’re only migrants on the move they never will be still. but I’m an old Exmouthian have been and always will. I’m Exmouth hatched and Exmouth bred I own the seaside bars and every day, I strut the Strand and decorate the cars. I follow fishing boats to sea, ride currents in the air, but I fly back here every night for Exmouth mussels are the best on all the beaches in the west! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------                   THE EXMOUTH PLEASURE DOME                              A satire, with apologies to Coleridge In Exmouth Town, did Khubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree by Promenade and Carlton Hill. The work began, but now stands still! Deep caverns, meaninglessless to man lie idle by a sundance sea. This Exmouth, once a town of flowers, where Exe, the sacred river ran, for here were gardens, bright with rills, where blossomed incense-bearing trees, Magnolias, Palms, Madeira Walk, a pride of which the locals talk Protected by Rolle Covenants. But now we find a savage place, both holy and yet haunted too. At sundown, rays on Haldon Hills inspire the painters from afar but creeping concrete in the Strand portrays a somewhat soul-less land and lurking, somewhere underground, the sound of planners, murmuring on. A damsel with a dulcimer, in a vision once I saw, It was a Devon County maid, and on her instrument she played and sang of rural paradise. Now all should cry, “Beware, beware developers with sickly smiles. Weave a circle round them thrice, and close your eyes with holy dread. They’ve drunk the wines of avarice, our money buys their daily bread!” And who is Kubla? Where hides Khan? Their phantoms lurk around this place, The questions bubble through the town, no answer –just a waiting space!                                     ________________________________                                                                                             Noel Harrower                                                                                               April 2011
The Exmouth Shoreline
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