by Svelana Volkova (Russia)

Making a local connection Great Britain


Lighthouses have one amazing feature: if you once stood close to at least one of them, whether it is big and majestic, or skinny and dilapidated, you’ll get forever the illness called "lighthouse fever". In other words, you will be hardly infected with the ineradicable desire to explore its history and learn about the fate of those whom it has saved or killed. When you come close to any lighthouse, sure, you will want to touch it’s stone body, painted grey and blue by time and the sea, and lean your ear to its cold plates to listen what it whispers to you, only you. And after you’ve talked to it you will be forever doomed to look for the next lighthouse, and having found that, look for another one, second, third. And so on to infinity. And one day after standing near Kronstadt lighthouse in Russia, I picked up this eternal search virus, and now when have vacation can’t help roaming the world in search for lighthouses, old and modern, opened or closed. My recent amazing travel was dedicated to lighthouse Ayr in the northernmost point of Wales. It stands on Talacre beach, at the entrance to river Dee estuary. It was built in 1776 and became inactive in 1883. Alive, it was painted with red and white stripes, and had a red lantern housing. Now it is old and abandoned and I thought I would hear its grumbling and moaning. When we met, Ayr was silent. But when I came closer I heard music. It was not just music played by a man but ‘something’ created by ‘someone from outside’. It is so hard to describe its playing. When I think of it, three words come to my mind: grief, hope, infinity. I read in my guidebook that according to the local legend, a Ghost of a man died of love often walks around the abandoned lighthouse. My British friends told me later that there is nothing mysterious, the music is quite explainable: to support the Ghost legend, the lighthouse owner ordered from a local artist Angela Smith a seven-foot sculpture of a Guardian. It was made of stainless steel with numerous holes. The wind, passing through them, plays on the body of the Guardian the mysterious melody. Yes, it seems to be true. But, believe me, when you talk to Ayr, you never think of any reasonable explanation. The melody is really magic. And I am so happy that Ayr talked to me by its music! We spoke privately and I promised my new friend to deliver his “hello” to other lighthouses, which are on my long travel list.