The last few days, we've been staying close to the River Tees between Stockton and Middlesbrough - a surprisingly beautiful river-scape created from previous industrial dereliction.
Here's another shot of the river looking towards the elegant Infinity Bridge.
It's amazing what secret beauty can be found in places where you'd least expect to find it. Even with an old pylon in the background. It's not perfect yet but it takes time to reclaim beauty when it was systematically destroyed for almost 200 years.
Currently, the area is being extensively reclaimed for nature despite the overhead trunk roads and railway lines. Salmon and other fish are now returning the the lower Tees in increasing numbers where it was once known as one of the most polluted river in the UK. There are two nature reserves and an area known for its population. The area is criss-crossed by footpaths and cycle-tracks.
Exploring the area through the heavy showers and brilliant sunshine, my thoughts, as they invariably do, return to writing when I'm not actively engaged in it. And I realised that something miraculous happens at that when when the sunshine breaks through the clouds. The air is filled with sudden honey-sweetness and the droplets of rain hanging from the leaves become little bubbles of perfect beauty shining on leaves, and the puddles become blue as they mirror the swept-clean sky.
When you're writing, there are times, sometimes hours, days or even weeks, when blackness clings to you like mud and you see no future and no purpose in what you're doing. When, for no apparent reason, the sun bursts forth, there's a warm radiance unfolds you and joy returns and you suddenly know what you're doing and why...until the clouds descent again and it's all cold and grey and you curl back into yourself. And so it goes on. And when the despair deepens, the returning sunshine is even more radiant, the joy even more breathtaking.
Or is that just me?
However, if I knew what it was and how it happened, I would bottle it and sell it. But then again, this elixir would be so exquisitely rare, it would be priceless.
Treasure the sunshine in your life.