Whenever I return home to Scotland I take the short drive east from Edinburgh to Tyninghame Beach. As with a number of other places in my native country, the mountains of the northwest, my father’s old farm in Perthshire, the rising hulk of Arthur’s Seat, which sits above my family home in Edinburgh, Tyninghame is for me a place imbued with emotional significance.
I have been visiting this place with my family for much of my life. Pages of old photo albums reveal grainy prints of me as a baby, tousle haired and wrapped up against the cold. It was here that I learnt how to bowl a cricket ball. Red cork skimming along the dark sheen of the shoreline. Barbeque smoke drifting through great swathes of Marram grass. Wind beaten sand dunes. Flecks of salt water. The steady thump of the tide against broken cliffs stirs these memories.
Today, the coast is bathed in the searing light of winter sun. It is early morning, and I am alone except for a lonely dog walker on the horizon. My boots crunch on the frosty ground. Wind blows gusts of foam from the choppy horizon. The sun glitters on this shattered surface, casting momentary shards of gold against the darkness of the ocean.
Over the course of the last few years I have spent more time taking photos than writing, however, when I do sit down and put pen to paper, I am drawn to discuss how my interactions with nature, particular Scottish nature, stir feelings of melancholy. This is my home, and yet I know that this place will long outlive my memories, and that my anthropomorphizing of the timeworn granite beneath me or the frigid tide matter little beyond my own reflections. Such realisations do not deter me, however, from trudging up and down the beach. Wind beaten and lonely though it may be, this stretch of coastline will forever draw me in with its stark and raw beauty.
- Words & Photos: Robbie Lawrence