Radio Lento podcast

Down at the marina on a weekday in August

September 11, 2021

Sunlit pontoons. Taut ropes. Empty footways. Still, like a photograph. So many boats moored up, waiting for someone to come down to sail them. This is the marina at Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, where to the eye, on this hot summer day in August, everything looks still. To the ear though, it's a different story. 


Guy ropes whistle and moan in the wind. Halyards ring against hollow masts. Tidal water swells, and though smooth on the surface, slaps impatiently against the pontoons. And when the wind eases, crickets in the long grass discretely sing.


Out on the open water, small craft on small journeys manoeuvre. Mid-stream, a heavy-engined vessel labours against the out-going tide. Docked, distantly opposite the marina, machines relieve a bulk carrier of its consignment of timber. All the sounds of an August working day. At eleven minutes, six, soft edged, evenly spaced booms. Detonations from the firing range seven miles southeast on Foulness.


The aural ambience in the air around the marina pushes to, and fro, like the ever-changing water. Filling, then emptying, filling, then emptying, in slow, peaceful transitions. It's the sort of place where one can go to just listen, and take in the atmosphere. A waterside place with sun-warmed railings for leaning into, where everything is there, and everything is happening, but in a more reflective, tide coming in and out, kind of way. Summer beside the marina time.


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