Milford HavenTuesday 2nd May 2000
FROM THE TRAIN on my journey from Wakefield to Milford Haven I see at pair of Goosanders on a river in the Peak District and again on a river near Carmarthen. My sketch shows them in winter plumage; the male now has a striking black/dark green and white pattern.
After all those hours sitting down, I enjoy the walk along the coastal path, around the edge of the oil refinery (you don't see much of it from the path) overlooking Milford Haven. It's now late afternoon but the sun still has some power. It gives me my first chance to try out my new walking trousers in their shorts mode; they've got zip-off leg sections. When you have to carry everything in a backpack that isn't such a gimmicky idea; it's one item less to carry.
I've put on plenty of sun screen so, when I start catching a drift of a sweet coconut scent, at first I think it must be my sun lotion. But it's actually the scent of Gorse, now in full bloom, which grows in low wind-pruned patches alongside the path.
Spring Squill which grows in grassy places on the clifftop, has long thin curly leaves and flowers like six-pointed stars in porcelain blue.
My idea of walking all the way to my bed and breakfast along the coastal path is thwarted because it is high tide and there is no sign of the stepping stones and footbridge at Sandy Haven. These are passable for only an hour or two either side of low tide. I turn back inland along the alternative route and, as time is getting on, follow the quiet, steeply hedge-banked, country lanes to Marloes village. The banks are peppered with Stitchwort, Bluebell and Red Campion. The fronds of Hartstongue fern add a tropical feel to some of the steeper, shady sections.
By the time I've had something to eat, I'm walking the last mile to the bed and breakfast at East Hook Farm through gathering dusk. It is windless and quiet apart from the hint of a murmur from the sea. The calm bay to the north-west has a pearly luminosity, framed by the hedgebanks and seen across the dark fields of the headland. Three oil tankers sit at anchor, a mile or more out to sea. Their decks are picked out with a tracery of points of light. You'd hardly think that three oil tankers could add any magic to a scene, but these do.