THE MOLDAU

 This painter from Dijon, Jean-Pierre Difrague,  and Amy his American girlfriend (of a day and night) * were passing under the  the Charles bridge in Prague* when someone jumped into the river and disappeared from sight.

Jean-Pierre could have dived in after him but didn’t. So could Amy but she couldn’t swim. She thought she saw his face pass under water with eyes and mouth wide open but afterwards was never sure whether she had just imagined it or not.

After that Amy and Jean-Pierre went their separate ways. The suicide was a youngish  unmarried insurance clerk from Osmoroc who, according to his family and colleagues, had no reason to jump off the Charles or any other bridge.

                                                             WATER OF LEITH

    Anthony Gormley pops up in the most unlikely places. Here he is ankle-deep in the Water of Leith, just below Embra’s Gallery of Modern Art. It is quite a surprise to come upon this coppery naked man –  a bit like coming round a corner and surprising Jesus walking on water – it would have been  even more of a surprise in the Scottish winter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  THE TAY, THE TAY, THE SILVERY TAY

A lone swan. But not necessarily a lonely swan although who knows what goes on in a swan’s head when it’s floating majestically on a wide, wide sea?

(Day after day, day after day
we stuck, nor breath, nor motion;
as idle as a painted swan
upon a painted ocean.)

Rhythm and stress are  effective here but for the quality of sound French takes the biscuit:

Le cygne chasse l’onde avec ses larges palmes
et glissssssssssssssse

The French language has a great sound to it – very expressive, very impressive too come to that – my favourite line is ‘pour reparer des ans  l’irreparable outrage’ which trips off the tongue and which I had to learn in school but which has stayed with me ever since, grown up with me as it were.

The Anglo-Saxons called the sea the ‘swan-rad’.  Did you know they have been known to fly 2000 miles mostly over sea and at heights above 25000 ft?    The swans do some remarkable things as well.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                LUNAN BAY

This place (near Montrose) deserves more history than it seems to command. The Vikings landed here in the year dot and that’s as far as it goes. A pleasant, placid place where the temperature seldom encourages you to strip of your clothes and race into the seal-surfing, fish-flashing, boat-bobbing sea. But once or twice a year (this was one of them) there is no better place to be. See the two swans? I am reliably told they  mate for life but perhaps that’s no longer the case in these modern times. This place is worth a visit.

The West Sands, St Andrews

 How easy to be happy when you’re this age,  sand, sea, bucket and spade and you can while the day away digging holes, watching them fill with water, building turreted castles  surrounded by moats, write your name in the sand with your heel, eat 99s  and look forward to doing it all over again tomorrow.  This is at St Andrews, better known for its golf course although this was the beach  used in the famous opening sequence of  ‘Chariots of  Fire‘ and of course, eight years ago, the adjacent university was the meeting place of the world’s best-known and best-loved romantic couple, the handsome WILLIAM and the beautiful KATE.

 As the song so eloquently puts it: ” Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.”



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