I’ve always had that element of ‘green-ness’ about me. Camping holidays in the wilds of Scotland when I was a child gave me an appreciation of the marvels and wonders of nature. Further holidays, having a minimum of facilities (a field with cow pats, a cold water tap; no foam-clad cartoon characters or entertaining theme park rides), brought home to me the simple pleasures of life. Simple; cheap; environmentally friendly; green.
My parents taught me to care for the environment, to follow the country code and trained me not to drop litter. When I came of age I didn’t learn to drive; I used buses and trains for transport and I cycled and walked. I’ve walked a lot of miles over the years. I can only imagine the amount of fuel I have saved by cycling to the supermarket for my shopping.
I have only ever been on a plane once (well, twice – there and back) but that was when I was a teenager on a holiday with an aunt and uncle. When I was old enough to travel by myself, I travelled abroad – through choice – on buses, trams, trains and ferries. Young people of my own age flew to the sun-filled beaches of Spain and Portugal, Turkey and Greece, while I leant over the side of the ferry in the English Channel, watching my breakfast float away.
This was in the years before people became concerned about the planet and had fears about the ozone layer, their carbon footprint and global warming. So ‘green-ness’ is in my blood, you might say.
Many years later and I still abide by my principles. Last year, in between the first Covid lock-down and the post-relaxation second lock-down, I cycled over to the Welsh coast and spent a week sleeping out on the beach. Under the sun and the stars (and in the rain!) I spent my time relaxing, collecting seaweed to eat, cooked over a self-sustainable wood campfire, listening to the waves rhythmically washing up the detritus, from this modern industrial society we live in, onto the once pure sandy beach, and watching the seabirds in their plastic-strewn nests on the cliffs high above.
At night I would walk the five miles to the nearest village pub to drink pints of the locally brewed beer. It was a horrible, sour-tasting brown ale but I comforted myself with the thought that it was more green than the big international brewery alternatives (smaller carbon footprint). The village also had a café.
In the Green Lentil Café the locals told me about Shifty, a lone bottlenose dolphin (‘morhwch’) that had made its home in the sandy bay where I was camped. He was friendly and would swim right up to you, they said.
That night, the wind was gusting and the waves were choppy but there was a full moon and I was determined to meet him. I unlaced my natural fibre sandals, stripped off my clothing and left them in a pile well above the high tide line and waded out into the cold, cold sea. As I swam out towards some rocks in the centre of the bay, sure enough a dark grey fin cut through the water towards me and the long beak of a dolphin broke the water beside me, clicking furiously.
So I punched it just below the blow hole.
“Stop eating tuna!” I shouted.
(Dolphins are the reason why fish stocks are dwindling around the world.)