Burghead: Day Three

On our last day, we drove out of Burghead into Hopeman, a nearby seaside village. Once again, the sun was shining and the sky was almost cloudless, coating the sand in a shimmering golden glow. Jas couldn’t contain herself, and pulled eagerly on the lead to get down to the seafront.


I began snapping immediately. The beach was a patchwork of fine, flat sand and weed-coated rocks where puddles of seawater were trapped from returning to the ocean until the tide swelled again. Kerr and I began to wander – rock pooling is one of those timeless summer activities that nobody is ever too old for. We stepped slowly from one rock to the next. A combination of slick seaweed and soft moss made me take extra care; although it was a beautifully warm day, I feared a dip in this water would still be a chilly one.


Another reason to watch your feet was the abundance of common limpets (Patella vulgata) clamped firmly to the rocks. We kept an eye out for any crabs lurking in the shadows, but perhaps the day was too hot for them. However, there were plenty of hollowed-out crab shells and discarded legs; remains of somebody’s breakfast no doubt.


There were also several rusty red spherical bodies with tiny tentacles tucked up tight. After a little research I discovered that they were beadlet anemones (Actinia equina), an extremely territorial anemone that nudges and attacks rivals with stinging cells that act like harpoons, injecting the unfortunate neighbour with venom to clear them off their patch. Baby beadlet anemones are kept in the parents’ body cavity – which conveniently serves as both mouth and anus – and when they are ready to be born, the parents eject them through the water, where they find a rock to make their home.


After a long time spent gazing into the pools and wondering what else could be lurking just out of sight, we joined the frantic game of fetch that was in full swing back on the beach. I couldn’t resist an opportunity to test my reflexes and see if I could photograph the fluffy torpedo in any mighty poses. I captured some absolute corkers but this was by far the best. Never has a dog loved the beach more than at this moment.


Nairn Trip Away

With my second year of university done and dusted, I was really looking forward to celebrating the start of summer by doing very little. When Kerr had a few days off in a row, we decided to head up to his parents’ house in Nairn, a quaint seaside town in the Highlands of Scotland. I can’t get enough of Scotland; if Kerr and I aren’t spending a day out in Edinburgh, we’re on a mini holiday with his parents.

The journey was five hours from Carlisle and we arrived in the early hours, so after a long sleep in a marshmallow bed we headed into town for some supplies. Kerr tracked down a bakery, so we bought lunch and ate it looking out to sea. As I tucked into my Highland bridie I was faced with the challenge of consuming the delicious flaky pastry as quickly as I could whilst not burning my tongue. Thanks to the coastal breeze I got more hair in my mouth than bridie, but it was so good to be by the sea again. Far too cold for a dip, but it was lovely enough just to watch the choppy waves and hear the gulls bickering over leftovers.

“Hey, take a casual photo of me looking natural.”

We spent the rest of the day destroying the third season of American Horror Story – introducing loved ones to your favourite TV shows is one of life’s greatest pleasures. After a quite formidable tray of chilli beef nachos for dinner, we headed back out for a walk along the seafront. It was past 9pm but the sun was still setting, with diluted orange splashes amongst the blue. All kinds of prints were peppered in the sand; big boots, smaller boots, dogs and the scratchy lined prints of birds.


Kerr told me to run out to the stretch of sand not yet submerged by the approaching tide and he’d take my photo. I foolishly did as he said, and struck my most nonchalant pose as I gazed out to sea. Suddenly my Vans were wet and I looked down to find my route back to dry land had shrunk significantly. I had no choice but to sprint back before I got trapped on all sides by freezing cold seawater. The photo looked great though, so the hair-raising stunt had been worthwhile.


Thanks to the lovely Kerr McNicoll for the photos in this post. You can see more of his beautiful photography on his website: http://www.crosssectionindustries.co.uk/