I realise I’ve been back from France for a few months and have been a neglectful host – I haven’t taken you to the beach.
We live about 100 to 150 metres from the sea, or if you don’t do metric a couple of roads back or a two minute walk. The sea dominates our little town, that huge expanse of water is around a corner, beyond some rooftops or down the hill.
We like to take a stroll along the promenade and then drop down onto the beach. There is always something to look at, to re-visit, to enjoy. I think of the lines from a Billy Bragg song “Come on down the beach is free”. There are rock pools to explore, groynes to scramble over, pebbles to crunch on, shells to find, sand to discover when the tide goes out, seaweed left on the high tide mark, footprints to follow. The sea to stare at.
There are gulls on the beach, in the water in the air. Their raucous cries a soundtrack to life on the coast. On a blustery sunny Sunday they soar and swoop so agile on the thermals.
At the right time of day with the tide on the turn we watch them picking up mussels in their beaks, rising up then dropping the mussels onto the pebbled beach; time and time again they soar, drop and swoop until the shell can be prized apart. Moules Marinières anyone?
And on we walk, walking into the wind, filling your lungs, picking you up, blowing those cobwebs away. Stretch your arms out and feel the wind run through and around your body.
And as the promenade peeters out the action starts in earnest – the windsurfers and kitesurfers are out, lapping up the choppy water, finding the wind and scudding along the waves, leaping and jumping in the air, to turn and race back to the beach, a deft turn around and off they go again into the mist and the haze of the sun. The energy they use and the energy they gain is visible to the mind of the watcher.
And back we walk, the wind behind us, pushing us home, to take a turn up away from the promenade to the quiet streets where the wind is dulled and doesn’t blow so hard. The quietness strikes you as you step away – the wind is no longer in your ears and in your head. You wipe the salt spray from your glasses, maybe smooth down your hair and quietly and gently walk home.
Most of the photos were taken by my partner as I was too busy arms outstretched into the wind appreciating the effect of the cobwebs being blown away!