Thursday 3 October 2013

Take me to the Beach

One of my first childhood memories is of being bent double, looking for shells on a windswept Scottish beach. I am about 5, we are traveling around the northernmost tip of the British Isles in a VW Camper van and I am happy as a (razor)clam. Brightly coloured sea glass, ebony mermaids' purses, periwinkles and wave tumbled pebbles all make their way into my pockets as the pull of the sea makes its way into my heart.

My sister and me on the beach, Cornwall 1968

Fast forward 40 or so years and my feelings haven't changed. Put me on a beach, whatever the weather and I am home. The wind in my hair, the taste of salt in my mouth, breathing in the ozone in big, hungry gulps - I definitely have the beach gene. My mother and sister share this love of the ocean and my boys are showing all the signs which makes me very happy - it's a family thing.

Le Crotoy, Baie de Somme

Sunset at Aberbach, Pembrokeshire
Our house is full of shells and other beach combing treasures from holidays past and I never lose the thrill of wondering what I might find on the next trip. Heart shaped pebbles bring good luck, and rare baby pink cowries (which were used as currency in days gone by) are said to be symbols of fertility. I remember finding some on the beautifully wild Scarista beach in the Outer Hebrides when we were thinking of starting a family and wishing on them with all my might. Looking back, I like to think they worked their magic.

Sea glass from Deia, Mallorca

English Gent knows and understands that the sea is part of who I am and that like a plant without water and light, I start to fade if I don't get my regular fix. So it's in the marriage contract that he takes me to the coast at least once a year (the quid pro quo is that he gets to go and play golf for a week, though I'm not sure the restorative quality is quite the same) and this Summer particularly, with all the intense sadness and emotions that we have experienced recently, being on the beach never seemed more important.

Clayeux-sur-Mer, Baie de Somme

The Baie de Somme in Picardy; Whitesands, Newport, Abermawr, Aberbach and Freshwater West in Pembrokeshire all played their part in healing and knitting us together tightly as a family. Whether swimming, playing beach cricket, building sand castles and forts, cloud watching, shell seeking, rock pooling, skimming stones, wave jumping or eating lobster rolls and Mr Whippy icecreams - beach life in all its comfort and simplicity really was just what the doctor ordered.

Cafe Mor, Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire

Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire

Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire

Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire

Mr. Whippy heaven

Now as the season of "mists and mellow fruitfulness" is upon us, we have one more seaside adventure to come up in Scotland this weekend, so we shall wrap up warmly, breathe in deeply, and make the most of the wild, raw beauty of the ocean, before shoring up the memories like layers of sand and dreaming of more to come.

Making our mark....however fleeting...

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