Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Man On A Beach

What luck! I met the Man On A Beach! He's an anonymous filmmaker who travels the coasts of Great Britain asking strangers one simple question: "What does the beach mean to you?"

Check out his excellent website, manonabeach: Journeys around the coast, to watch my answer.

Click here to visit the Man On A Beach website.

Here's the backstory.

On Sunday afternoon, I found myself fogged in on a northern Scottish isle. Here I was in Kirkwall, a town of 6,000 people and far more sheep and cows. I was supposed to continue on to the remote island of North Ronaldsay, population 65, but a white blanket of fog was making the journey impossible.

"The fog started on Thursday," the friendly Loganair employee explained. "No flights since then. Everyone who was waitin' took a ferry this mornin'."

"When's the next ferry?" I asked.

"Tha's just once a week," he told me. Darn.

"Well, you're from here," I reasoned "What does your intuition tell you? Will the fog lift soon?"

"Haven't seen fog last this long in two years," he replied with a bright smile. "So the intuition's useless!"

Four public bus rides, a full hostel, one Scottish chicken curry, and one Bed and Breakfast later, I woke up in Kirkwall to bright sunlight. The B&B owner had been right: easterlies had swept out the cloud. Our flight was good to go.

In the airport, I met my fellow passengers: an English couple who travels near the sea, a German birder who appreciates the avifauna of Sri Lanka and Scotland, and a man carrying nothing but snacks and his phone with a fuzzy microphone attached. This last individual turned out to be the Man On A Beach. He's camping in Kirkwall for a week and taking day-trips to the remote beaches, hoping to conduct an interview on each one. Serendipity at its finest.

The smallest flight I've ever taken.

An eight-seater propellor plane with one pilot.

We flew over a handful of gorgeous green isles, dotted with sheep and ringed with stone walls.

The North Ronaldsay Airport.

"Ewe are here" -- believe it or not!

A needle-felt mural in the airport shows North Ronaldsay's unique breed of seaweed eating sheep. (More on them later.)

North Ronaldsay: windswept cirrus in a big sky.


  1. The pleasure was all mine, Nina. You are a bright star. Best wishes. manonabeach.

  2. Excellent interviews Nina! Can I follow you around everywhere? :)


  3. Hello Nina,
    You are amazing! Safe travels, I love reading these.

  4. I’m curious about the needle felting portrait. I was at a bird language course a few weeks ago and one person had made a little Junco using this technique. I’d never heard of needle felting before this! It was so real-looking one might have thought it was a stuffed dead one. She was working on another creation at the time. Very portable hobby.

  5. Great stuff ...Man on a Beach was the best nature documentary I've seen in a while.

  6. Lovely story, Nina. How lucky to run into manonabeach. Turns out my flight to Gambell, Alaska was in a nine-seater prop plane, so one person bigger than yours. No airport at all, just an airstrip. I think you were at latitude 59 seeing arctic birds in Scotland while I was at latitude 63 in Gambell and 64 in Nome seeing arctic birds. Now you're off to the REAL Arctic. I look forward to hearing about snow geese and ross's geese and arctic fox and everything else. I think Karrak Lake is at latitude 67, wow!