Weds. 11th August, 1999, Kennack Sands, The Lizard

I dreamed I was chasing the eclipse in Brighton and couldn't find the sea. At dawn the cloud cover was a grey softly ridged down quilt. Things looked bad but I didn't feel bad. Never expected (I realised) to see the special effects, just wanted to be here on the line or near it when it gets dark. Good sleep. Peter grumbling about cat biscuit in the bed... About 9 o' we got up. I made coffee while we watched Jamie Theakston Phillipa Forrester et al on Alderney and in Penzance. In Penzance it is actually raining. There are crowds. We are glad we are here instead. Peter went out on his bike to find milk, the shop at the site being shut. When he didn't come back soon I was cross. We should be on the beach now! Then he came back, Gabriel and I having watched a bit of the sun getting et, photographed from a Hercules 10,000 ft above Alderney (unless this was hoaxed). Walked down to the beach, among the counter culturals, I wouldn't squish myself to the hedge for yet another van, kept walking, being pissed off at the amount of traffic, "Hey, you got a wristband that lets you do that?" demanded the driver -good line. On the beach we walked across to the headland (tide out) and settled there with our coffee and biscuits among the tattered and beribboned and bewristied throng. Memorable features: the tumbler woman (same as we saw naked tumbling on the beach our first day) giving a splendid performance on the flat tongue of the headland just below us, 1st leading her cohorts in repeated come on, you know you want to! salutes, encouraging the sun to get out of bed so we could see it being et; then alone in a lot of demanding yoga. Great show. The tall blond guy with the grim and dangerous profile, and the long black coat, who appeared among us calling mournfully for his lost... dog? Shay! Shay! Shay! The boisterous Brighton contingent behind us, irreverent and cruel to all comers, we were proud of them, taunted him with suggestion dog had gone over cliff to its doom. And, in the end, the sun DID come out, reaching a watery break in the clouds just in time for us to glimpse some of the business. And darkness fell, and the air cooled -though, due to diffraction through all that cloud this was not a dramatic rushing black out. Strange lights over the sea, a cloud exactly like a flying saucer, and we took some dumb photographs.

Then it was over and we repaired to the garden of the Kennack Sands Inn along with many others where we had pints and chips and nuts and observed wristie behaviour (don't they EVER spend any time at that festival?). A silver-grey had collected a little sand from the eclipse beach. How sweet. Good place to be, for a significant natural phenomenon.

The wind in the willows played tea for two

The sky was yellow and the sun was blue...

Later: In the afternoon we cycled to Gweek and it rained and the seal sanctuary was a bust. We and a lot of other people stared in disbelief at about four geriatric seals, and couldn't believe we'd paid for this... Later, late at night, Peter left me relaxing (i.e. asleep) in the chalet and went to check out the guitar band in the field across the road, came back full of enthusiasm to fetch me. I actually didn't think his undiscovered genius or rough diamond was all that much cop, but it was a great atmosphere in the big tent, sitting on strawbales, swigging tequila. At least until they went acoustic. And the sky was miraculously clear. Milky way, shooting stars. Now why couldn't it have been like that this morning?

Falling Leaf