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Mudflats. Wednesday August 23, 2017

[To listent to an audio version of this blog please click here:]

Ah, the beach!

What does that mean to you?

Perhaps you think of miles of white sand, the turquoise sea lapping at your feet, palm trees and cool pink drinks decorated with little umbrellas.

Perhaps your mind is drawn to a sandy cove surrounded by cliffs. There are rock-pools full of anemones, crabs and tiny glittering fish, and dark caves smelling mysteriously of seaweed; each one a potential smuggler's hideaway.

Maybe you can remember sitting in the car on the seafront, watching the rain lash down on the windscreen and eating fish and chips, hot out of the paper. There was the crunch of the batter, the delicate dance of white fish on your tongue and the satisfying squelch between your teeth as you bit into the chips. Even now, that memory of vinegar vibrato and warm salt will make your mouth water. When the sun reappeared, you could go out onto the rain-washed sand with your bucket and spade and play for hours.

The beach where we spend our summers is not like that.

Fifteen years ago, we heard some good friends of ours had a share in a beach house. At the time, we were newlyweds, new parents and very hard up. We asked our good friends if we could borrow it for a cheap holiday.

"Well – yes," they said, misgiving in their tones. "But you must come and visit first, before you decide if you want to stay for a whole week."

When we arrived, we could understand their hesitation. This is a beach house in Essex. So, there are no towering cliffs and sandy bays. It is not in Frinton, respectably genteel with its beach-huts; nor yet is it in good natured, rowdy Clacton with the pier and generous golden sands. This beach house is further south, and looks out onto the Colne Estuary. Here, there is little sand, and what there is, more shingle than sand. Here, we have mud.

One of the main reasons we get upset is disappointed expectations.
We had expected sand. Instead we got mud, and rocks, and oyster-beds that rip open unwary feet so swimming is best done in shoes.

But that disappointment lasted only minutes. An estuary is far more interesting than a seaside town. Whatever the season or weather there is always river traffic. The boats go out at dawn and dusk carrying the engineers who service the windfarms. At high tide the yachts and the cargo boats full of sand make their measured way into the small harbour. The ubiquitous sailing dinghies race up and down and round and round, their sails a fluttering flotilla of butterflies. The sunsets are some of the best in the world, and at night the navigation lights blink in patterns as complex as a ring of church bells.

And those mudflats are full of birds.

If we had continued to hanker after sand, we would still be disappointed. Sometimes we have to see the beauty of what is, and not the glitter of what we desired.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Molly Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 12:19am

This was an interesting blog. :-)

Hope Mary is ok.

xxx back to everyone.

Leah Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 1:19am

Hello xxx and thanks for the blog.
I will share my feelings on this blog.
I love the simplicity but meaningful message. I think of the Beatles "All we need is love"
Lets spread the xxx to all.
Trust MW is

Molly Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 1:32am

Oh gosh, rightly or wrongly Leah, I cannot stop laughing again xxx

Leah Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 3:22am

In case these comments are not deleted, I want to explain that before Marys wonderful blog, there was a glitch in the system which resulted in a blog with one word xxx. I want to emphasise these comments were not making fun of Marys blog Mudflats as we couldn't see it before. Glad it has all worked out. Thanks

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 6:50am

Hi Guys! Thanks for the explanation. And your kind thoughts. I was a bit mystified. And - tbh - I think xxx is just as meaningful as my words above. This was an "emergency" blog, written at speed yesterday as I looked out on those mudflats. Emergency because the scheduled one was not suitable for today. Of course I loved writing it because it gave me scope to be all "writer-y" (I hope you noticed all the alliteration, similies, metaphors, onomatapia and so forth), but I'm not sure if it's really very meaningful.... "We wanted sand. We got mud. But mud is really very nice once you get your head round it." Actually, if someone were to offer to replace all the mud with sand, I don't think we'd take up the offer; our "beach" deserted but for dog-walkers and fishermen, would suddenly be invaded by lots of other people who like sand. I prefer the peace and the mud. But then, I would, wouldn't I?

Caroline the Moodscope Team Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 8:55am

Sorry guys, my fault. I had just printed xxx's until I had the blog to publish which explains why you might have thought there may be something wrong!! Apologies Molly, Leah and Mary. xx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 9:02am

No apology necessary on my behalf, and I think it gave Molly and Leah a giggle!

Romy Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 9:32am

Hi Mary . I thought your blog was very meaningful . If we continue to hanker after the fairytale life we will remain disappointed but if we see the beauty of what is and not the glitter of what we once desired then disappointment can be replaced with an appreciation of the life we have . I thought what you wrote was very philosophical even if it was written in a rush and inspired by mud ! It definitely inspired me this morning so thank you for that . Kind regards Romy xx

Leah Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 9:37am

Caroline, I liked the way we tried to comment- what troupers! I don't think many are awake then except for night owls and people in different time zones. No apologies needed. Mary, I liked your blog. Of course we have no mud in Australia only silky sand!! I think letting go of expectations is the key to travel and life. I am in awe of your literary writing,mine is quite dull by comparison. Thanks for being a good sport about all this.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 5:04pm

Tony - thank you. I'm pleased it meant something to you.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 5:05pm

So sorry Romy - autocorrect thought I meant Tony. Who is Tony, I wonder? I feel another blog coming...

Molly Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 6:47pm

Hi all, it certainly gave me a laugh last night. I know I have a warped sense of humour but I found it very funny :-) xx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 7:05pm

And Romy, another thing about wanting a fairytale life. You remindeded me of my first novel, where my hero and heroine obviously have a "happily ever after". The final scene deals with the heroine being pregnant. I end with the words, " Yes she was happy, but this wasn't a fairytale ending. No princess in a fairytale ever had morning sickness at three in the afternoon." We buy the dream but what we get is reality. Just sometimes, in snatches, the reality is better than the dream, and those are the precious moments to treasure.

Eva Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 7:10am

Hey Mary, you have hit on the thing I'm trying to unravel currently, I think that a fair proportion of my woe is due to unrealistic expectation. I spent years being disappointed with my dad's interest and responses to me, when I finally gave up my expectations we started to connect.

I've recently been disappointed by some friends, and I'm looking at my expectations, and although I don't think they were that unreasonable I think that it's not unreasonable that these friends don't regard certain events in my life to be as necessary of notice as I thought they might. Added to that, having been ill for a while and out of the social scene I've not been on their radar.

I'm trying to get my head around it, I guess it smarts because I spent my teens trying to get my dad's attention, and so I am sensitive to being forgotten, left out or disregarded.

However having noted this, I do feel better, they didn't choose to hurt me, that's just a by product of their actions and now that I've examined it the smarting is less.

I wonder how many peeps suffer from too high expectations or too low?

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 9:04am

Hello Eva. I wrote a long reply to this which got lost as my internet connection dropped out. Just to say your reply made me think too. Thank you.

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 11:53am

As you mention, Eva, many of us have high expectations of others....friends, relations, the other half, sons, daughters etc., but they, in turn, are probably exactly the same, with their own high expectations, however because no one voices it, we think we are the only one who feels let down by 'unthnking' peeps. I have put a reminder in my OH's phone to remind him when the anniversary of my mother's death is, so he might know that I may be feeling down on that day....he probably would forget otherwise. My expectation is that he should remember: it's not that long ago; because it was a terrible time. He should remember because she was a big part of our lives. He should remember because I loved her and miss her so much. I do all the remembering for birthdays, anniversaries etc. Those things don't always bother him and as far as friends are concerned, it's only the closest ones who may remember but I wish they would anticipate certain event anniversaries. Maybe we have to think that it is up to us to 'deal' with the thoughts of feeling hurt or perhaps we just need to let others know when a particular painful event is due? They are not clairvoyant!! Good for you acknowledging and recognising they weren't trying to hurt you. Love and hugs, Bear x

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 5:12pm

I'm not very good at remembering anniversaries myself. When it comes to our wedding anniversary both of us usually forget. I was however devastated when a close friend did not acknowledge my birthday this year; especially as it was just 2 days after theirs and I'd made a big thing about it for them. But then for some people, birthdays are not important, I suppose.

Molly Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 6:58pm

I hate to do the sexist thing but I think men are much worse at remembering dates than women. I keep a diary, not sure if men generally do? Maybe you both are right, it is not important to some people to remember dates. My husband remembers our anniversary but we were both pretty annoyed with ourselves this year when we forgot the anniversary of his mum's death, which was five years ago. Mary, I am bothered too when someone forgets my birthday. Two friends did for me this year even though I never forget theirs. It is the only day I feel special!! Call yourself a friend!! If apologies for forgetting (or not bothering) had followed, then not so bad, but nothing!! Molly xx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 7:06pm

You too, huh! My reaction was just like yours!

LP Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 8:36am

Hi Mary,
Your blog took me back to my first year in secondary school aged 11. We were taken to a part of the Thames to do "Mud Larkin' " the teacher had an east end accent. Mystified, My expectations of the trip were disappointed when I found myself dredging through mud for any interesting items, potentially treasure! I never have changed my thinking about the mud, mud, glorious mud!
Thanks for a thought provoking blog Mary. Good wishes to you and all. LPxx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 9:21am

I am giggling here, L.P. I can understand your justification and disgust! Here the children sometimes do "mud-sliding" which involves rolling around and sliding in and on the mud so they are dark grey from head to foot and resemble more baby elephants than children! I am not at all sure they would like to do that in the mud of the Thames!

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 11:54am

Lovely to see you Lilyoet :) xx

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 11:54am

Or even Lilypet!!

LP Fri, Aug 25th 2017 @ 8:33am

You too Bearkins! :) xx

LP Fri, Aug 25th 2017 @ 8:34am

Lol :) just an association nicely refreshed by your blog! :) xx

Orangeblossom Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 8:42am

Thanks for the blog Mary. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Discovering the beauty in the everyday and the apparently mundane mudflats is my aim this year. Thanks for helping me to achieve this for today. All Good Wishes.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 9:22am

My pleasure! Thank you for your comment.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 9:23am

Just to say I will be off-line from now until the evening. I will answer all your comments then. Please don't think I am ignoring you.

Angela Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 10:08am

I like this blog; it's reminded me that maybe I 'expect' life to be different/better. What I ought to be doing is be thankful for everything I DO have. My Daughters are very good to me, they bought me an early Christmas present of a netbook aka a small laptop so we can skype each other whilst they holiday in Australia. :)

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 5:15pm

I love to Skype. I have a dear friend in Germany. He "calls home" every Sunday evening.

Hazel Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 10:31am

I found this blog really profound. A metaphor for life. I had hoped for an active retirement but have had to face up to getting rheumatoid arthritis and my husband developing parkinsonism. I rarely post but regularly read the blog. It was an inspiring read, thank you.

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 11:59am

Dear that's a tough time you're having. Do hope you get to have some relaxing time for yourself...a warm bath, sauna or steam therapy to warm those joints. I have osteoarthritis and it's a pain all the time, but I am not coping with a husband with Parkinson's, so you have a bucketful of sympathy and gentle hugs. Bear x

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 5:17pm

Hazel, thank you so much for your comment. I feel for you and wish you well. I think most things we view as profound are also simple: but sometimes we see them clearly when they are presented a different way.

Melanie Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 10:56am

Wow! I loved the blog and I am loving people's comments on it. When looking for something in life eg a partner - how to discern between wanting expectations rather than who comes along and also being a stand for what I want in life..... Thank you Mary - you are a star and insightful writer!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 5:26pm

Thank you Melanie. A tip I got over 20 years ago and which was of the most enormous help to me was, make a list of what you *really* want in a life partner. Be specific. Make it a full list. Don't be afraid to set your sights high. Once you have made your list just put it in a drawer somewhere and forget it. But your partner will turn up and the likelihood is that he/she will have most or all the qualities listed. But, fair warning: I am 5'4" in high heels, so I asked for my man to be over that height. Hmmm... he's 5'5"... I was kind of expecting someone taller. (But we can dance cheek to cheek, which is nice)

Sab Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 11:37am

Thank you your Last sentence Helped a lot, Great!!!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 5:26pm


the room above the garage Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 12:18pm

"see the beauty of what is" is a wonderful phrase, I'm resting in that alone! Wonderful blog today Mary, thank you. And I'm giggling at the comments at the start xxx :-D love ratg x.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 5:26pm

Xxx to you too!

Lexi Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 12:29pm

Hi Mary! Your blog was wonderful to wake up to as it reminded me of the New England beach towns where I spent my summers. Not so much mud, but plenty of rocks and mussels and water so cold it could send your toes into hypertherma within a minute. I loved all of it, especially the rock climbing and looking for hermit crabs in the pools. Nit wveryone's idea of a perfect beach but it holds beautiful memories for me. Xo Lexi

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 5:28pm

Yes- my cousins spent their summers in New England too! I was always so envious!

Lexi Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 12:30pm

Hi Mary! Your blog was wonderful to wake up to as it reminded me of the New England beach towns where I spent my summers. Not so much mud, but plenty of rocks and mussels and water so cold it could send your toes into hypertherma within a minute. I loved all of it, especially the rock climbing and looking for hermit crabs in the pools. Nit wveryone's idea of a perfect beach but it holds beautiful memories for me. Xo Lexi

The Gardener Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 2:48pm

MW, what a glorious word picture of an estuary - for me, it will stay a picture - I loathe the North Sea and the flat countryside - froze at a wedding in Southwold, froze on a Sunday afternoon when dragged to a famous beach on the Suffolk coast. I used, instead of counting sheep, walk all the beaches I could remember in the hope of inducing sleep. For me it's got to be flat, hard, golden sand - walking dreamily, of fast, up to my ankles in water. As I have been stung by a sting ray in Indonesia, jumped into a bed of sea urchins in Sicily, and had my bikini bottom removed by an undertow in Guadeloupe I am very wary of the sea, although I love to be by any sort of water. As to expectations I have stopped having them - not pessimistic, but Carpe Diem order of the day. Flattened with exhaustion, I do what I have to then collapse, then I've come to having a sedative before fetching Mr G from respite as his temperament is worsening at an alarming rate. And all my 'droppers in' are a disaster area. Best beach? Langkawi was pretty spectacular - except it rains there a bit (is a rain forest after all.) Saw a spectacular whilwind? (Tornado over the sea) made more exciting by son just having finished wind surfing - he would have been sucked straight down with no hope.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 6:54pm

You have walked along many lovely beaches, Gardener. I can see that the memory of them is much better than counting sheep. When sleepless, I tend to go and have a coffee with some of my characters in order to get to know them better. Jeremy ( who you met briefly last Wednesday) is extremely reserved. He and I had to drink a *lot* of coffee before I could write his story. No good trying to get him drunk either, as he always has to be in control. Ellie is far more of a dashing in, slightly out of breath, downing half her coffee or wine in one gulp and "So, what do you want to know?" kind of girl. Much easier, thank goodness. NB - for those of you who are wondering if I've run slightly mad; nope - just a writer! Our characters tend to be more real for us than some members of our own families - and *much* better company!

Sally Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 3:55pm

Good afternoon, Mary and everyone else!
Mary, I loved your blog. Your descriptions were wonderful. It really struck a chord for me too, because I often raise my hopes and expect too much...and then am disappointed , in life and in travel. I seem to crave excitement, so that when faced with the mundane , it's a let down... But I take your point about being flexible, going with the flow, appreciating other things than those that you'd expected...

We've just had 4 foreign visitors staying a few nights. Before they came, I was anxious , but I shouldn't have been, because they were such a pleasure to entertain, so positive and appreciative, and their visit has left me energised. I feel good about my capacity to provide meals, etc, but mostly so thankful that we have such a good and sincere friendship that goes back 25 years...and that this was reaffirmed. Friendships, true ones, are so precious.
Thank you, Mary. Pertinent, as ever...

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 6:44pm

Everything you say in your comment resonates with me too. I too love to feed people and I love deep and honest but understanding friendships which survive for years. Travel scares me, but in common with many writers I am an indefatigable people watcher. So even waiting for aeroplanes or buses I am never bored. It is the uncertainty of travel which creates so much anxiety for me. When travelling to the States to meet up with an old friend I was not anxious at all, because I knew where I was going and that I would be met!

Jane SG Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 5:01pm

I like this Mary - see the beauty in what we have.
Thank you x

Becky Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 5:42pm

What an evocative blog. I feel like I'm there with you. And your last sentence sums up exactly how I feel about my life. May I quote you? What attribution do you want?

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 6:38pm

Of course you can quote me! Not fussed about attribution but Mary Wednesday will do as well as anything! (Hugs herself in a rather bemused and amused fashion)

Molly Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 7:31pm

Great blog Mary, I could taste those fish and chips by the way you described them. I live in a seaside town - so close to the sea - I am ashamed to say I take it for granted really (stones not sand!!) When my dog (that is not my dog) was younger and fitter, I would take him to the beach and throw stones into the sea, he would chase them and wonder why he couldn't find them, but he loved a swim, while I used to breathe in the sea air and feel free on the beach. As you say, it is not about expectations, it is about appreciating the moment xx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 8:59pm

So pleased you could taste the fish and chips! I think we've all been there in that muggy car, haven't we! I love the pictures your comment brings to mind. I'm thinking wire haired terrier, but he could equally well be a toy poodle or a great dane, I suppose!

Molly Thu, Aug 24th 2017 @ 10:25pm

He is a cross between a staff bull terrier and a rhodesian ridgeback. The best temperament ever. He is obedient, loving, and the best! He stares at me with his big brown eyes, knows my moods, and he is quite famous around here :-) We might get a chance to go to the beach tomorrow. We need to rely on a lift as he cannot manage to walk there and back. And swim! He loves a swim and it is good for his arthiritis xx

Nicco Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 8:23pm

A great blog, Mary, thank you. It really made me think & brought to mind a couple of sayings... 'all that glitters is not gold' and 'the grass isn't always greener on the other side'. And, yes, I too could taste those fish & chips and smell the salt in the air! It cheered me up - I scored low today, but higher than some of my scores so have hit a bit of a dip, but hoping it won't last too long.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 9:00pm

I too hope you bounce up soon, Nicco.

Jane SG Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 9:48pm

It's nice to see your name Nicco. I hope you bounce back soon x

Nicco Thu, Aug 24th 2017 @ 12:57pm

Thank you both. Am trying to bounce today!

Ach UK Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 8:23pm

Aah, Mary, "vinegar vibrato" wonderful! - I can taste those chips.
I haven't been to the seaside for a couple of years but I am fortunate to have my own pool in my garden . . .
;)) - a 5ft blow up kiddies paddling pool. I've done this for a number of years now and when I was still working it was a joy in the summer to come home make a cup of tea and go shuck off my clothes and sit in the middle of my little paddling pool and relax with the cup of tea in the garden :)) - brilliant.
Simple fun, not just for kiddies and in the very dry summers provided water for the plants too. This year I'm still waiting for a good sunny spell, but each time I walk down my garden my little lido raises a smile. Got plenty of clay but no mud flats.
Thank you for lovely mind pictures. X.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 23rd 2017 @ 9:02pm

Thank you Ach UK. I was quite pleased with that line myself! I love the idea of your little lido. Still a few weeks of summer to go yet!

Robyn Thu, Aug 24th 2017 @ 12:50pm

Dear All,
I felt quite sure I had written a response to this blog, which really struck a cord with me. But I don't see it here this morning!, Anyone know what I did wrong!!

Mary Wednesday Thu, Aug 24th 2017 @ 2:02pm

Hello Robyn. That happened to me when I replied to Eva (above). As Nicco says, maybe it's to do with being timed out. Or a dodgy internet connection. Anyway, I am pleased it struck a chord with you.

Nicco Thu, Aug 24th 2017 @ 12:59pm

Robyn, that sometimes happens to me too - not sure what causes it but have a feeling that I get 'timed out' so, when I click on 'post' it doesn't actually post it. Anyone else have any thoughts about this?

Molly Thu, Aug 24th 2017 @ 4:52pm

Yes, it happens to me alot (the session does indeed get 'timed out' so what I do now is copy what I have written and then if it times out, I can just paste my text back in xx

Robyn Thu, Aug 24th 2017 @ 1:33pm

Thank you Nicco,
Yes, I bet you are right!, it takes ages for me to write my comments as I have so much to say, horrible arithritic fingers don't help!. If people have taken the time to write such deeply personal things, I want to do my best also.
It would be really helpful to know how to stop that happening!

Robyn Thu, Aug 24th 2017 @ 2:32pm

Dear Nicco,
I forgot to say, although you don't feel quite so well today, the fact that you took time to help me, has made a world of difference to me. It's a wonderful feeling when people listen and respond.
I am new to moodscope so I need all the help I can get!. You made a difference to me today- thank you

Robyn Thu, Aug 24th 2017 @ 2:33pm

Dear Nicco,
I forgot to say, although you don't feel quite so well today, the fact that you took time to help me, has made a world of difference to me. It's a wonderful feeling when people listen and respond.
I am new to moodscope so I need all the help I can get!. You made a difference to me today- thank you

Nicco Fri, Aug 25th 2017 @ 12:16am

You are very welcome, Robyn - it's a two-way thing, I find. Also, Molly's copy & paste technique above is a great way of making sure you don't lose what you've written if you're in danger of being timed out.

Robyn Thu, Aug 24th 2017 @ 2:34pm

Hahaha it's posted twice now...!!! That's tickled me!! X

Mary Wednesday Thu, Aug 24th 2017 @ 2:55pm

Several times now, Robyn. (Insert smiley face emoticon) I will ask Caroline to delete the spares. It repeats when you think it hasn't posted and so you hit reply again. And - a big welcome, Robyn. Please do stay and comment. We love having you.

Robyn Thu, Aug 24th 2017 @ 6:04pm

That is such a lovely welcome Mary Wednesday.!
Thank you, It feels like I just made friends with a unique group of people,who have already made me feel very special xxx

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