Friday 21st June marked the longest day of the year and officially the start of the summer season for us folk living north of the equator and it was truly a beautiful day here in Exmouth from dawn until dusk.
In a moment of possible madness on Thursday evening, I decided to set my alarm for 4am, in order to set out on the Stuart Line tender to catch the sunrise from Pride of Exmouth’s mooring at the mouth of the River Exe – of course, I was hoping for a half-decent photograph on my somewhat amateur mobile phone. Very rarely am I up and about at this time and there was something immensely calming in the air; many people report to feel a strong sense of spirituality at the rising of the sun on the Summer Solstice and although I am not particularly religious or ‘spiritually-minded’, I found the experience to be profoundly peaceful, with only the gentle crashing of the waves on Dawlish Warren and a few early birds singing their morning songs for company.
Along our golden seafront I could see two rowing boats, which I soon recognised to be some keen members of the Exmouth Gig Rowing Club making their way out to sea, no doubt in the hope of the best vantage point. This was reassuring, making me feel slightly less mad – I wasn’t the only one!
As dawn started to break I could see that there was quite a lot of cloud cover but this only added to the beauty of the sky as the sun started to break through over Exmouth. I managed to snap somewhere in the region of 100 photos, many of which were frankly rubbish but a select few I deemed good enough to send in to ITV News West Country, having heard earlier in the week that they were asking for people across the region to send in their photos, depicting what they were up to on this special morning.
I returned back to the Marina at about 6am, by which time several familiar local fishermen were along the quayside getting their gear ready and loaded up for a day at sea – this was of course a very ‘normal’ time for them to have started work but they were quick to crack a joke, over-exaggeratedly tapping their wrists to remind me that Stuart Line are not usually up and about at this time. Tony and his Crew of ‘Becky of Ladram’ enquired ‘what on earth are you doing up at this time?’ – presumably unaware that in my other life I am a registered nurse and very well accustomed to being up and all hours but still, it was comforting to know that they cared!
Once home I switched on the ITV West Country News in eager anticipation to see if my photo made the cut but after about 30 minutes, gave up and went back to bed! I’m sure you can imagine my delight at the 6pm news that evening though, when Ian and Philippa Stuart phoned to tell me that they had seen my photo of Pride of Exmouth, spread across their TV screen!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this little snippet of my morning – it was so special, it would have been selfish to have kept it to myself. Perhaps next year we should offer a Summer Solstice Sunrise Cruise? Food for thought but in the meantime, here’s a very well-known poem from the one and only…
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
(Sonnet 18, by William Shakespeare)