‘Let’s go over there’ Mai indicated as we walked along the beach.
We wandered along away from the crowds. Billy and his mates were going in the opposite direction so it seemed a good place to head. The cliffs hung high above our heads, a sheer wall of limestone rock, off white in colour towering upwards, the blemishes of the weather ingrained in the rock, little outcrops and crevices that the sea gulls had made their home. The clung to the rock face as if superglued into place, looking as if a strong wind would take the nests and deposit them in the next county. The squawking of them filled the air, echoing off the cliff faces, made the level of noise high, a cacophony of sound emitting from the walls as if giant speakers had been placed there.
The previous night hadn’t been good. Billy had farted his way through tea, ‘Call me Phil’ encouraging him all the time. Mai and I spooned the food down quickly, it was palatable although being a vegetarian the meal as usual was what I’ve come to expect. Most places it means either veggie sausage, burger or a cheese pasty. Usually the burgers and sausage are dry and overcooked as though the cooks have prepared it first and left it to dry up whilst they cook the rest. In the end we burst out into the dark cold air outside gasping for breath.
The rest of the night hadn’t been too bad. Billy got bored easily and left to his own devices too long would soon find ways of relieving the boredom by picking on someone else, egged on by his ever present satellites. Last night though ‘Call me Phil’ and him had been playing cards most of the night. I guess we could be lucky for small mercies. Maia and I had spent the evening reading quietly in a corner of the room before we went off to bed, a little earlier than the night before. I was sharing a room with a boy called Andrew. He was reasonably OK, however he was constantly snoring during the night which kind of kept we awake. I was also a bit wary of him as he was just on the periphery of Billies circle and was anxious to get closer to the star. I worried that he’d use getting at me to become part of the true inner circle.
‘Why the hell have we got these dog biscuits’ I asked Mai as we sat down on a rock
‘Oh it’s to measure the drift, we chuck them in and then measure how far it goes before they come back, in and then we know what the rate is.’ Mai said patiently.
‘Yeah, I know that, I mean why dog biscuits, why not something else?’
‘Oh, I thought you meant…’ Mai said embarrassed as usual when she’d misunderstood what I had to say. She always felt like this, that it was her who was in the wrong and not me for being the one who hadn’t explained clearly enough.
‘It’s just weird that it’s dog biscuits and not something bright that you can see float’ I said turning round to see Miss Spectable scurrying along the beach in our direction.
‘Miss, why are we using dog biscuits?’ I asked.
She slowed down and stopped by us. She pushed her glasses to seat them right on her nose before she answered.
‘Well we used to use corks and then plastic balls, but we were always losing them. I don’t like to leave any rubbish lying around so what I use the dog biscuits. If we don’t pick them up then they decompose in the water and the fishes and crustaceans can eat them. If I get them back, I take them home.’
Mai and I nodded and then looked at each other.
‘What do you take them home for?’ we both asked at the same time and then giggled.
‘Well Amelia likes to eat them.’ Miss answered once again pushing the glasses back onto her head as though they kept trying to escape down her long nose. I thought it was a nervous reaction, as she always seemed worried .
‘Amelia?’ Mai asked with a strange look on her face.
‘Yes my dog,’ Miss replied.
At that moment there was commotion down the beach. We looked around to see someone lying in the waves whilst Billy and his friends were standing over them pointing and laughing.
‘Oh dear, I better go and see what the problem is,’ Miss said starting out in their direction, ‘oh I was going to tell you, come back to the minibus at noon, we’re off to the town this afternoon, free time.’
We watched her head off down the beach and Mai burst out laughing.
‘I thought Amelia was her daughter, I’ve never heard that name for a dog before.’ Mai said.
We both laughed and turned our backs on the rest and started to busy ourselves in the work. It was only an hour to go and we still had so much we had to do if we were to get the information we needed for our assignment.
The hour flew by, as did the dog biscuit in and out of the water. It never really got soggy. It was fun to heave the bone shaped object as far out as we could and then watch it. Unfortunately for Amelia though, we lost sight of it near to the end of the hour, maybe a fish decided it was good eating matter and pulled it down into the depths or maybe a merdog, my suggestion not Mai’s had snatched it.