Quite separately Rob and I headed out along the coast on the same wintery afternoon. Rob was out for his run around the coast from Rookwood with Ketchup the dog, and I had cadged a lift in to St David’s and was walking home to Solva via the coast path. Our afternoons collided seconds after an icy cloud burst had soaked us both to the skin. Rob was in light running attire and I hadn’t dressed with rain in mind. I saw Ketchup first, heralding the arrival of Rob not far behind. He looked as though he’d just stepped out of the shower with rosy cheeks to match, having just toiled up the steps of doom- a punishingly steep climb from sea level to the cliff tops. We had both watched as sheets of rain blew across the sea in our direction, vainly willing them to veer wide. They reached us quickly, hastened on by a south-westerly blow. Once it was inevitable I accepted what was to come and enjoyed the skies visual drama as cold drops spilled on to me for a short time. I met a gentleman hurrying along in the same direction and we shared a mutual admiration for the weather’s show. He told me that Turner had lashed himself to the mast of a ship in bad weather to get the full experience, so he could paint from the heart. The resulting work was Snow Storm – Steam Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth. It turns out the 64-year-old Turner had himself lashed to the mast of a steam boat just off a harbor mouth in shallow water, which was battered by a snowstorm for four hours. He said later that he had not expected to survive, yet he had more than endured. His experience was a triumph and the painting is one of his finest achievements.
My short time getting caught in the rain certainly was dramatic and the surroundings painterly and I lingered in my damp clothes, inspired to make some images. Further along the path semi-wild ponies grazed on the cliff edge. This one gazed to the distance between munching, then drank from a puddle. When I crouched to frame it against the sky it leaned towards me and sniffed my head. I liked the sound it made through the soft nostrils, inhaling to get the measure of me. Beautiful, calm cloud pony.