August 22nd, 2018
Visit Five: PLANTING TREASURES
On our final visit to Cramond before we launch Tide Times we leave the nine boxes we have made with invitations for people to make, play and explore around various sites on the island. We have an audience of invited people coming tomorrow (22nd August) but after that the installation will live on the island as long as the visitors to Cramond want it. The treasure chests may be vulnerable to the weather and elements as well as to vandalism, but we hope that visitors to Cramond will choose to engage with these invitations to explore this place. The box we left a month ago has vanished but some of its contents remain so we reinstate this box, “A Gift”. How long will these treasures last in this place?
August 6th, 2018
Visit Four: A GIFT
On our third visit to the island we decided to test leaving a treasure chest on Cramond to see if it would stand up to the elements. We left a small box with some shells in it tucked away in a nook at the far end of the island. We didn’t know if anyone would find it or if someone might take it away and we left no instructions or information about what we were doing, just the box with some shells in it. When we returned exactly two weeks later we were surprised with what we found.
The box was full. Inside was a scrap of paper with a Polish stamp on the back and a handwritten message in biro which read “Please leave something from you (smiley face) and put it back”. Someone had written underneath in pencil “What a lovely idea!” (heart, smiley face).
In the space of two weeks the box now contained:
A small white and pink pony
A selection of coins including: 3 pennies, 2 2pence pieces, one pound coin, a ten pence piece, 50 groszy and three tiny polish coins, two bronze and one silver coloured.
A card from a hostel in Warsaw
Two Edinburgh tram tickets from the 3rd September 2017
A small piece of green glass
A picture of a botanical drawing
A dried cutting of purple loostrife
A dried flower (yellow) unidentified
A brown leaf
A card from Brice Stratford with a picture of a longship
A guitar plectrum
A small pin badge
A Greggs coffee card with 6 stamps to claim a free coffee
A card from Hidden and Haunted with the names Simon and Sara written on it
Our invitation for this box was going to be “take a shell/add a shell” and the track title would have been Gift of Shells. We decided instead to call this “A Gift” and leave the box and instruction to its own devices. The visitors to Cramond took ownership of this box and the instruction to please leave something from you (smiley face) and put it back is the right one for this spot. The inventory of this box may have changed by the time you visit it but hopefully the instruction which was put there by perhaps a Polish visitor to the island remains intact.
Beach Speech Experiments
On our fourth visit I spent a long time on the beach in the tidal zone – the sea retreating from me and my space for exploring growing larger as the tide went out. I collected shells and stones along the beach and wrote some words in the sand. I wrote the word shells in shells. I wrote pebbles in pebbles and seaweed in seaweed. I wrote things I thought the environment or the creatures might say if they could speak. I don’t know these things but I tried to think of what it might be to be a sandworm, or a razor clam, or a mussel. I asked the question oceanographers who practice sensory ecology ask: “What is it like to be a creature in the sea?”
24th July 2018 Visit Three: EVENING VISIT TO CRAMOND
When we visited Cramond for the third time it was later in the day than our previous two visits. The light was different, darker and duskier and the wind was up. When we arrived the ice cream van was closed. A bell from one of the boats was clanging and there were a group of swans sleeping in the estuary. The start of the walkway felt different in the early evening and even the sand looked different, darker and blacker with weed as though disturbed by a storm.
As we walked through the dense green undergrowth I noticed that the ferns are fully unfurled since last time, their green fronds taller than I am, grazing the skyline and obscuring the sea. We tried to find the glade we visited last time; we can’t find it. We stood in the spot we both thought it had been and looked at each other. We retraced our steps seeking signs that branches have been cut. Some leaves look scorched from the hot weather but there is no evidence that a tree has been pruned or cut back. We expected the shoreline to change from visit to visit with the twice daily tides, but the deep green heart of the island is shapeshifting too.
On our third visit to Cramond, we are still too early for the raspberries; their green nubs are still too young to be sweet. A brown and orange butterfly, a Meadow Brown, rests for a moment on a leaf as the bees buzz noisily between the purple wildflowers. When I go home, I furtively look up the wildflowers we have seen and read their names aloud:
and most prolific Purple Loosestrife, seas of its tall elegant neck vivid against the green ferns.
Once we passed the highest point of the island we were plunged back into deep green foliage. We reached the glade we had been looking for in the lower part of the island. It is cool and the dappled sun light through the leaves pattern the path. This spot is full of the sounds of bees and birds and insects. Tim and I realise we don’t know this place as well as we thought we did.
We go to leave Cramond island about 7pm when Tim decides to record more sounds at the shoreline. The sky darkens as we begin to cross the walkway and the rain begins to fall. As we hurry back to the mainland we pass people on their way to the island, some of them are dressed up and one girl is wearing high heels but clutching a pair of Doc Martin boots. The last safe crossing is 20:25 – we wonder what is happening on the island tonight and how bad the weather is going to get. On the drive back to Glasgow the rain is torrential and I think of the people on the island crossing the causeway in the lashing rain. The RNLI is frequently called out to rescue stranded tourists who misjudge the tide times on Cramond.
July 4th 2018 Visit Two: EXPLORING CRAMOND
On our second visit to the island, we took a different route. We walked through the now dense foliage, tall ferns and purple wildflowers lining the route. We found a glade where the trees cocooned the path and Tim recorded the bird song amongst the trees.
On this visit, we sat at the furthest end of the island and looked out to sea for a long time. We looked at an island from this island. The island looks empty apart from the birds and has the same kind of military buildings built on top of the rocks as Cramond has.
We walked through the concrete village covered in graffiti. Although the sea views are beautiful on a sunny day, it is a lonely place and the disused military buildings are dark and cold, blackened inside by the fires of evening visitors and littered with shards of green glass bottles.
On this second visit we visited around lunchtime, we were there for a few hours and we found the island changed with the seasons, a greener, denser, island that was noisier with the buzzing of insects and the call and response of birds than before. We made some maps of the island, of interesting places we would like to return to and experiment with making sound and text there.
In order to reach Cramond Island there is a walkway which is accessible during low tide. The walkway is 1 mile (1.6km) out to sea and is connected at low tide to Dunn Sands. There are concrete pylons on one side of the path which were put in place as an anti-boat boom during WWI.
The views from the top of the hill on the island over the Dunn Sands and walkway are stunning. People standing on the sands looked like they were walking on water.