Advent on the Crookedshore

When I set  off on the crookedshore today it was already nearly five o’clock and we were entering the latter stages of twilight. I had headphones pinned to my ears to listen to the football on 5 Live but the batteries ran out of power barely 100 metres onto the sand and I took this  as an Advent portent, to listen and watch on the way around.

At the beginning of my journey Jupiter and Venus hung suspended over Bangor and they were to my back as I walked north-east. I paused and looked back to see a red sky over the town. In the cold, cold air the sight was wondrous. And I thought of Bethlehem all those years ago and a star followed by wise men, though I bet it wasn’t this cold.

I’ve got four layers on tonight. And I’m wearing a Russian-style hat with flaps down over my ears and tied under my chin. With my thick gloves and strong shoes I’m actually quite toasty and enjoying being out.

The sea is totally still. And almost within touching distance it seems a sailing boat makes its way up the lough towards the safety of Bangor harbour. At least I think its a boat; all I can see is a collection of lights, white and red, moving quietly over the water. The sail is down. I know this because as it passes me I can see through the teepee-shaped constellation of lights on the boat, straight through to the shore on the far side.

I am astonished to notice that even in this dark winter’s night the three-quarters moon is strong enough to cast a shadow. When I turn to the south the moon is directly in front of me, Jupiter and Venus are to my right, and in the East there is a less showy, red coloured object in the sky. I think it might be Mars, but am confused by its location.

As I approached Groomsport  along a particularly muddy part of the track I noticed the frosty air hanging over the buildings and lit by the street lights, looking like an orange halo surrounding the Advent blessed village.

Happy Christmas.

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