I grew up about 80 miles from the nearest seaside, so not surprisingly I didn’t get to see the sea that often as a child. I visited the Suffolk coast a couple of times a year, and sometimes got a glimpse on our annual family holiday in Scandinavia. But I think the sea became particularly fascinating to me after spending time travelling in Australia and New Zealand. Apparently around 80-85% of the Australian population lives within 50km of the coast*, and certainly most of the tourist areas that are visited by backpackers are along the coastline.
So what is it about the sea that inspires me?
Sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see, curved sandy bays, beaches heaped with sturdy pebbles.Packed beaches with no space, colourful buckets and spades, dogs running in circles, grandparents resting. Quiet secluded beaches, enjoying quiet isolation. Rainbow arrays of beach huts, nestling out of the wind. The horizon in the distance. The sunset over the vast expanse of water and sand. Sea birds parading in formation on the beach.
Sound of pebbles moving and clinking together with people walking over them. Waves lapping gently, quiet sounds of swishing and motion of water. The crash of waves pounding the shore energetically. Seagulls calling to one another, oblivious to those who want peace and quiet. Laughter of children, families enjoying themselves.
A hint of salt in the air, of water and dampness pervading all around. A fishy odour, especially along wharf areas with boats bringing in the daily catch. Pungent smells which travel some distance. The waft of doughnuts cooking, walking along the pier trying to remember that diet, but knowing that the doughnuts will win.
Sand, fine yet abrasive. The sensation of walking barefoot on a sandy beach. Seaweed, brittle when dried, soggy and squishy when washed up on the shore. Pebbles with a hard surface, difficult to walk on quickly, especially barefoot.
Fish and chips, savoured in a local café or as a take-away on the beach. A hint of salt in the air on a wet seaside day.
Ah, the sea….. I’m getting an urge to visit right now. I walked along the seafront in Southend-on-Sea last weekend, which strangely although being on the other side of London is actually one of the nearest places for me to see the sea (or the Thames Estuary to be precise). Brighton is another, with its beach and pier, and Portsmouth with the Spinnaker Tower to survey the views from above. My favourite seaside views are the sandy expanses with bays and cliffs, some deserted, some thronging with people – Bournemouth, Milford-on-Sea, the Swanage area and the rugged beaches of Cornwall.
If I had the time, perhaps I’d commit to finding new seasides on the South coast of Britain for me to enjoy and escape to after a working day. Now there’s a thought……..
*Source – very quick, unscientific Google search.