King Edwards Bay, England - Don Wilford

My Watermark is King Edward's Bay in England, United Kingdom.

It was King Edward's Bay (the small beach) in Tynemouth, where my mom used to take me to play when I was a little boy. Before summer it was pretty empty and I'd dig channels and build castles. My famous line at 5 years old after working all afternoon when it was time to go home was, "but we can't go yet, I haven't had time to play".

When the tide went out, all the rocks were exposed and I collected crabs and starfish, which I took home (unfortunately most of them died before I took them back). I remember one year returning for the summer and all the sand was gone - a freak of water currents I suppose. I remember feeling a huge sense of loss, that everything I'd known about the beach had gone, never to return. The sand came back next year.

King Edward's Bay is also where I finally taught myself to swim. The waves were very large - I suppose most parents would, today, say it was unsafe. Sometimes waves knocked you off your feet and took you under - always, though, to be deposited on the shore with a mouthful of water. I remember my dad trying to teach me to swim - breast-stroke, which never worked. I remember, one day, launching myself into a wave and doing the crawl - off I went, the beginning of my swimming...

I also remember the amazing, fearful storms, standing on the cliffs, looking out into the maelstrom, the waves huge, seemingly descending to the bottom and hurling to the top - over the majestic Tynemouth pier. I remembered thinking what it would be like to be a sailor in that inferno of water, of power, and of fear. The thing about water is, on a peaceful summer day, you can get in it, immerse yourself, feel its caress, its flow, become one with it. Then, look out into the storm and realize the monster you'd been playing with, then playful, is now fearsome.

That's my memory of water - a playful friend and an awesome, terrifying monster. And everything in between. Something to love and to fear. Encompassing our being.

Amy Wilford
Don Wilford

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