Late September and sunlight glosses seaweed and shingle with an incoming tide. From the yellow dunes, amidst sea-holly and marram grass, I spy a couple of waders outlined against the white foam of a breaking wave. The birds are foraging, running to and fro against the rhythm of the waves and heading north along the strand. Amongst the ringed plover there are dunlin, first winter birds with plumage of tortoiseshell and grey. Breeding solitary in the uplands, dunlin come to the coast and spend autumn and winter here in flocks.
'Eider beyond the lighthouse, directly off the Point.' Returning, he shared what he had found. Gannet flew by, deceptively close as banks of shingle plunged into deep water. Sea-smoothed pebbles rose in tiers of shingle, a natural amphitheatre where we settled into a drama of sea-watch. Late September sun, a fine cloudscape and the sea a spectrum of aquamarines. Off the Point, white water showed where tidal races met. Closer to the shore, rafts of eider bobbed up and down on the waves, heads tucked into the plumage of their mantles.
Rain fell all through the night. Next morning, the River Kent ran fast and high. No goosander, dipper, or grey wagtail. Yesterday's house martins were gone, until next summer. The river was brim-full but nothing like the morning of 6th December 2015, the morning after Storm Desmond, when the river had shrunk back within its bounds and we scooped up bullheads, sticklebacks and crayfish stranded in the mud beside the Parish Church and threw them back into the turbulent river.
That December, in time of flood, the writer Sarah Hall came home to Cumbria for her mother's burial.
Black against alto-stratus cloud and blue sky, a flight of chough. They nest on cliff- ledges, on sea-stack and precipice here at The Chasms. A flock of thirty birds, their voices high-pitched- the counter-tenors of the crow family.
Chough are a motif here amongst precipitous cliff, rocky bluff and sand dunes. Their call evokes the coastal solitudes I love. Long black fingers as they soar. Wings folded in steep dive.
Be alert as you watch the opening sequence of Bodyguard episode 5. Resume clips will prove important .
Death Star, for instance. Keeley Hawes is clear and eloquent as Home Secretary Julia Montague. Before she 'ambushes' the Prime Minister she turns to David Budd, her personal protection officer, and tells him to go to the Death Star if she doesn't return. It's a photograph she named in an earlier episode.
Eventually, David Budd follows -up the Death Star reference and finds the kompromat that everyone is seeking. With whom will he share these toxic revelations, now he feels even Detective Louise Rayburn has betrayed him? Kompromat: damaging allegations, compromising material. In this case revelations about the Prime Minister.
And what is Budd doing meeting secretly with an arms dealer and trying to get hold of an untraceable rifle? I reckon he's pursuing his theory that the assassination attempts on Julia Montague involve organised crime trying to suppress her RIPA 18 legislation. He knows his Helmand associate Andy Apsted had such a weapon. Finding how it was sourced might lead him to the bomb builder.
Looking back over all those terrorist/ assassination attempts are they all linked? Even that episode with Nadia on the train. Was it chance that David Budd was on that train, or part of the plan? In the same way the choice of his kids' school as bomb target was not haphazard?
We know Hunter-Dunn, Head of Security Services, is on the dark side. But what about Tom who looked shifty at St Matthews College and kept clear of the explosion. It was he, not DI Louise Rayburn, who ensured David Budd was stood down and stripped of the right to carry firearms.
Will Jed Mercurio give us all the answers? Or leave some threads tightly knotted so we have to go on unravelling. It's working. Can't think when a drama had everyone so engaged, so eager to second- guess the plot. Trailers tease us, taking care to blind-side us and keep us puzzling it out.
Rob McDonald tried to sabotage Julia Montague's speech. Hoping for a memorable gaffe. Vince Cable showed us how. Try John Crace, The Guardian Political Sketch writer on VInce's performance. It's hilarious. Might have felt sorry for Vince Cable, had his intended thought been less vicious.
The clouds parted and blue sky opened up above us, a radiant blue. And sunlight swept over the fellside where we sat beside Kentmere Reservoir, watching the play of light.
The word photography means drawing with light and whoever was on the Divine Lighting Console was having fun. A spotlight fell on a cluster of sheep, startling white fleeces with blue paint marks to tell their owner. Then light played along a ridge, tracing the architecture of the fell. Dark cloud loured and rays of light probed beneath and gleamed off the RIver Kent as it flowed south past a sheep fold. Floodlight softened the grasses, turned them gold. A magical day.
Fly agaric grew beneath a birch, its preferred host . As we searched the bracken we found more and more, from spherical dark red caps to large saucer-shapes flecked with white and nibbled by slugs.
Fly agaric is important in Lapland culture and is used by shamans to induce hallucinations. Its intoxicating properties affect reindeer too. Flying from Lapland, Father Christmas is dressed in the colours of fly agaric in its younger, fresher stage.
The Bloody Chamber is Angela Carter's best work. So says Salman Rushdie and I agree. The title story in a group of tales, it's in Gothic mode. And 'I'm political', Carter was heard protesting in a recent BBC documentary. 'It's there in my work.'
Now BBC radio 4 is to broadcast readings of Carter's stories and novels. Make a date for The Bloody Chamber on 24th September. To create an ambience, listen to Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, listen to the sound of the sea and inhale the pure scent of white lilies, while it lasts.
The auditorium is in semi-darkness. Julia Montague, Home Secretary, is on stage giving her speech on combating terrorism. Sgt Budd, her bodyguard, sees a movement outside the hall, checks it out. Thinks it's a false alarm. But there is tension in a packed auditorium: a student protest, someone running in late, a pulsing soundtrack with a sense of foreboding grows frantic. The policewoman and sgt Budd see something and race toward the Home Secretary. There's a flash, an explosion. The aftermath isn't sensationalised. Darkness in the auditorium, and silence.
The tide was far out as we headed north along the sands. Then east over the shingle, over the sand dunes, by the gravel pits and onto the salt-marsh. 'A spectacle of purple-blue flowers stretching as far as the eye can see.' Limonium, sea-lavender,' at its best three weeks ago.' Steve Benn regretted our field-trip date didn't coincide with optimum flowering. Impossible to predict in this the hottest summer in England ever. The sea-asters are splendid. Do we appreciate how remarkable they are?
So, to the salt-marsh.
Small copper is a beautiful butterfly and on North Walney this one lingered.
Where shingle merges into sand dunes we found Hare's-foot clover- a pale pink, with soft hairs almost hiding the flower itself. A delicate clover, easily overlooked.
Yellow bartsia is a speciality of Morecambe Bay. The sun was too bright to photograph a yellow flower well but there are few on Walney, so here it is. Red bartsia was more abundant.
A bright and sunny day with dragonflies and damselflies breeding.
Jan Wiltshire is a nature writer living in Cumbria. She also explores islands and coast and the wildlife experience. (See Home and My Books.)