(nb: The article recalls a vivid dream I had after we’d visited Worm’s Head at Gower– a place I love)
“Wake up, come on, run, come on, we can beat the tide,” screeched one panic stricken me. With fierce tenacity of jaws like a starving pit-bull terrier, I yanked the picnic basket, and physically grabbed my husband from his afternoon dose. “What, what,” Ian garbled, startled from his deep snooze. ” The tide’s coming in, come on, run for it, come on, chuck the stuff in the basket – run, otherwise we’re stranded”!
I’d been dosing on and off, but reading in between, and as often happens, I was engrossed in an interesting feature. However, I was steaming with anger that we’d allowed ourselves this needless vulnerability.
Further panic set in, and I recall that ‘rushing and getting nowhere’ sensation, often experienced in dreams. Things wouldn’t go into the basket, and there seemed to be so much more than what we came with. Lids wouldn’t fit on the sandwich boxes, as they seemed treble the size. I was all fingers and thumbs, and utterly helpless. Packets were blowing about in the breeze, and everything was a double effort. The picnic blanket was billowing and appeared treble its size, just as a large sail, I couldn’t hoist it up quickly enough. It had taken on a mind of its own. In exasperation I hauled it to the ground, jumped on it, and threw the lot in a heap in the basket. Ian was now fully with it and looked out to sea in amazement. “We can do, if we’re quick, “ he stated, reassuringly.
It was supposed to be a stroll over the rocks, photograph the seals and birdlife and enjoy a picnic at Worms Head on the Gower Peninsula. We’d been there many times and the area is full of happy memories, especially when the family was young. A sublime June afternoon afforded us our trip. We’d checked the tide times for the half-mile trek to the headland, and off we set. We had ample time to enjoy the expedition and relax too. A rocky scramble enables you to wade through the low tide out to the headland. When the tide comes in, as it does very quickly, you are cut off from the mainland and have to wait to be rescued. On no account is it recommended that you try to swim or wade back as the current is too strong.
“Come on”, I begged, “For God’s sake, we’re gonna get cut off, we can do it, but quick, move.”
Ian yanked his sweatshirt and trainers and stumbling about the rocks clumsily gathered momentum to begin our speedy decent. I could sense that I was making progress, but Ian wasn’t, and I waited a second or two, and then grabbed him, but that ‘getting nowhere experience’ had once again taken a vice-like grip. I began to sob, but he assured me we’d make it. ” We’ll be OK,” he said.
The tide was already swirling and frothing about and covering the visible rocks, and screeching gulls were dive-bombing us before skimming the incoming tide. Through the heat haze I could see another group of people in the same dilemma as us. I shouted and waved to attract attention but they headed off in another direction. A feeling of utter despair beset me, but Ian constantly reassured me by clasping my hand tightly. “ We can do it, now come on, this way”
Then the worst-case scenario occurred. I slipped and hurt my ankle. Desperately I tried to put my weight on it to clamber down the last few rocks to paddle the 50 or so yards to safety. Racing thoughts told me we’d be spending a cold night waiting to be rescued, with little food or shelter, just as the famous poet Dylan Thomas once had! He’d been in the same situation as us, having dosed off, only to be cut-off by the tide. Furthermore, he claimed he saw rats scampering through the night, dancing shadowy figures, and the temperatures had fallen below zero! All this, and me, with a suspected sprained ankle! We were so close to safety but so far away too. Rushing with all our might, that ‘pulling back’ sensation was unrelenting.
Frustration turned to anger as I blamed Ian for falling asleep. “Well, you should have checked the time, he snorted” Oh come on, we should’ve known, stupid, stupid us! But you shouldn’t have dosed off,” I grunted angrily and in pain.
I tried insatiably to pull that extra bit of tenacity. In sheer panic, I shouted for help! The sea came in more quickly by the second, but we couldn’t make it. I was being pulled back. An even greater force held me and I was rooted to the spot. It felt as though I was being pulled downwards into a great hole in the ground, and out of control I began to cry. Our goal seemed impossible. Frantically Ian waved his red baseball cap in the air hoping to attract attention, but as he did so, I fell. My ankle had finally given out!
Coming to reality on the bedroom floor, I’d fallen out of bed. I was entangled in the duvet, and very disorientated. It took me a few seconds to realise that I’d been dreaming and that I was on the other side – the other side of the bed, but safe, bodily intact, and greatly relieved that I was not going to spend a night in sub zero temperatures!