In the afternoon, when I should be at home, sitting in front of my laptop, madly typing away, or patiently editing photographs, I sometimes go for a walk, usually down the coast, toward Exmouth.
Both Lympstone and Exmouth are on the Exe estuary.
So my walk follows the edge of the coast.
An estuary is a strange thing, it is half river and half ocean. The river is at the same level as the sea, so it has become tidal with the ocean.
And the tide is huge, exposing large swaths of land at low tide.
I think the best way to illustrate this is with pictures.
Here is a picture of high tide, taken halfway between Lympstone and Exmouth, with the other side of the estuary in the distance.
(note for future reference: the tiny piece of metal sticking up from the water in the exact center of the photograph.)
This picture was taken about noon, as I walked toward Exmouth, As you can see, the tide is high, splashing softly on the concrete breakwater in the bottom right corner.
The breakwater was built for the train tracks, more then a hundred years ago, when the branch line between Exeter and Exmouth was built.
The trains are unexciting diesel-electric and look like this when they pass by.
This is what it looks like when a single sheep pauses from its lunch, and looks up at the camera, while I pause on my walk to Exmouth.
Two hours later I return along the estuary walkway, and click the same photograph from the exact same spot.
That is how much the tide has moved out two hours, and it has another four hours to retreat. When the tide is low, the estuary becomes just a thin river, far in the distance.
There is something so beautiful and peaceful about sitting on the edge of the concrete, watching the water recede, slowly uncovering the hidden stones, seaweed, and of course the sunken boats.
That little piece of metal that was sticking out of the water in the first picture is actually the throttle handle for the remains of the boat sitting in the middle of the above picture.
I don’t know why the abandoned boat sitting on the edge of the estuary is so interesting to me. Maybe the Sci-Fi streak in me, that wants to know what the world would be like if we all disappeared.
What, 20 years from now, our beautiful machines would look like.
Or maybe it’s just an engine looks amazing covered with barnacles.
And so does the throttle handle.