Watch out, there’s an easterly about!

When you look at map (or indeed a chart) of Tor Bay, you’ll see that our relatively small bit of shore looks like a bite out of the bigger sweep of Lyme Bay.

If you know your cardinal directions, you’ll have noticed that Tor Bay faces eastwards. Which means that we only get decent sized waves when there’s an east wind blowing.

We locals always know when there’s an easterly.

Not least because, when it combines with a high spring tide, the east wind can shut our seafront road, keep our boats in harbour, and render most bits of sea unswimmable.

It’s wonderful though.

There’s something about walking around the beaches of Torbay when the wind is blowing directly at you. Perhaps because it’s a less than usual occurrence. Everything seems lifted somehow, and I’m not just talking about the kite surfers who seem to appear from nowhere.

Perhaps they are blown in.

Round here the phrase ‘blow-in’ means someone who wasn’t born in Devon. I imagine it has more romantic sea-related connotations than being blown down the M5, which is what happened to me over 20 years ago. I didn’t even come from the east, I was born in Worcester.

Walking the Worcester and Birmingham Canal

Daphne du Maurier liked an east wind.

‘When the east wind blows up the Helford river the shining waters become troubled and disturbed, and the little waves beat angrily upon the sandy shores.’

Frenchman’s Creek, Daphne du Maurier

She must have done. Otherwise why would she have been so keen on what the east wind could blow in. Pirate lovers in Frenchman’s Creek, lustful visitors in East Wind, crazed avian invaders in The Birds?

The old English proverb was perhaps right.

When the wind is in the east

’tis good for neither man nor beast.

No mention of women there. Although you’ll have to read the short story of East Wind to find out what happened to poor old Jane shortly after her stimulating easterly visitor experience.

Mary Poppins was far too sensible to be bothered in that way.

But she did blow in on an east wind. And away again when it swung back around to the west. Whether or not you want to try that with an umbrella is up to you.

I think I’ll take my chances with the pirates.

Or the kitesurfers.

But perhaps not at Bleak House where Mr Jarndyce was also inclined to notice an east wind. He suspected it of blowing in no good.

“My dear Rick,” said Mr. Jarndyce, poking the fire, “I’ll take an oath it’s either in the east or going to be. I am always conscious of an uncomfortable sensation now and then when the wind is blowing in the east.”

Bleak House, Charles Dickens

I’m inclined to agree about the sensation.

I get an actual feeling in my bones when the barometer pressure drops but there’s also that feeling of change and awakeness when the wind swings round to the east. Perhaps it’s the ‘no good’ association that makes an east wind so exciting.

Even calm water swimmers like a bit of a splash now and again.

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As we enter the summer of 2022, the outdoor lifestyle continues to be big news across the UK. Fi is a specialist outdoor writer with a passion for outdoor swimming, navigating, camping and generally exploring outside. If you have a product or website that would benefit from outdoor tips, walking routes or storytelling, please feel free to get in touch today.

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