I spent much of yesterday afternoon hunting for a place from which to watch this morning’s winter solstice sunrise. My map is covered with pencil lines running through local landmarks, Freebrough Hill, Stony Ruck, Roseberry Topping, Godfalter Hill, all bisected at 130 degrees to align with the rising sun.

Last night I started to think about all of the times that I’ve been working away during the solstices, wishing I was at home. I thought about what the solstice means to me and how it relates to the situation we currently find ourselves in. I decided to put away my maps and focus on what is important, home.

Just before dawn, I took a walk and watched the town waking up. Dog walkers and early strollers started to appear, the bloke who is constantly engaged in an argument with himself was pacing the upper prom. On the lower prom swimmers were shouting for joy as they plunged into the cold sea. An ambulance parked outside of the nursing home brought home the current reality. I bumped into a friend on his way to start his long day, getting the hours in because he doesn’t know when the next lockdown will come.

The Solstice is often referred to as midwinter, the reality is that there are still long, lean months ahead of us. The wheel has turned, the sun reborn.

Marske to saltburn

“Of all the remedies it has pleased almighty God to give man to relieve his suffering, none is so universal and so efficacious as opium.”

Thomas Sydenham 1624-1689

Long-term opioid prescribing is increasing despite poor efficacy for non-cancer pain, potential harm, and incompatibility with best practice. Questions of equality of care arise from higher prescription rates in the north of England and in areas of greater social deprivation.

British Journal of General Practice 2018

Saltburn Beach

I hear and smell the beach before I see it.

The air still carries a charge from the storm.

A primary school teacher once told me that small children are noticeably more excitable during a storm

If the knot is undone, turn for home. If the knot remains, keep walking.