Talking to DW today reminded me again how lucky I am to live so close to the ocean. I recalled the best way in all of the world to overcome the burdens of life.
You see when the world weighs heavy on my shoulders, when the days seem too long or too short. When I have been in town or away for an extended period, the ocean makes me realise how insignificant I am. This is not just a home thing, being close to the ocean just seems to ground everything. As good as a shower is it can’t wash the grime of transatlantic flying as well as the ocean.
Should you ever find yourself at the end of your tether or overwhelmed by the weight on your shoulders. Should you ever struggle with the routine of life or finding your way. When the path looks lost and everything just seems impossible, every wall too high. Find yourself a quiet coastal town, after everyone is asleep. Grab a cold beer, whatever the temperature, and walk down the sand. Sit in the sand with your toes just on the edge of the tide.
Drink your beer, listen to the ocean and feel the chill as it washes over your feet. Look out at the ocean and know that everything, every challenge stands behind you. Consider what affect your actions, your worries or even your presence* have on this scene. For me that feeling resets everything, it grounds my soul.
If you should feel that way this weekend can I ask that you don’t sit next to me . . .
* Hey I make no claim to be a Samaritan
I am lucky to live in this sleepy backwater and call the ocean my neighbour. The transition of the soundscape from night to morning today was a timely reminder. In the early hours of the morning I was awoken to the chirpy twang of drunken tourists. Apparently when you have walked as far as my flat you need to stop and debate the inadequacies of rural taxi services. Eventually the debate moved on and peace returned.
At 6 am I awoke naturally, there was barely a man made sound. The ocean was singing its glorious tune as it lapped lazily at the shore, almost as if the lack of an audience gave nature an opportunity to take it easy. I laid there and considered just how lucky I am to have that soundtrack and how convenient it is that last nights drunks won’t rise till much later. I think I made twenty minutes before a car passed and probably another 20 before the next one, that’s a rural Sunday for you. As I lay drinking my tea and just taking pleasure in the sounds that surround me I detected another sound. Under the sound of the ocean was another tone, softer but insistent. The sound was that of brushing, like a groom brushing his steed. It wasn’t a visiting horse but the sound of the street sweeper, the sole humanity in sight, grooming the town for another day.
Not for the first time I looked out of my window and considered that our street cleaner may be luckier than we think. A job without stress or concern, simple targets and no decision making all performed with the most awesome backdrop. The wages may not be great and I still don’t think it is a job for me but then I don’t think the rat race is for him.
Occasionally you overhear a conversation that immediately and totally recalls the wonder of childhood. Today, on the train, was one of those days. A young girl sat on the train with mum and nan, surrounded by suitcases. The family were travelling to the coast and set about recounting holidays and memories.
There was some confusion over one trip, could nan remember that trip?, she wasn’t sure. Mum mentioned the hotel, the trip and days out but nan couldn’t place it. During this conversation the little girl was getting more and more excited, she clearly knew how top describe it. Her opportunity arrived and, having taken a deep breath, she embarked on her own description.
There was this arcade nan, on the right hand side of the pier. When you went past the penny slots and the change booth, towards the back. There was some bowling lanes and a big crane machine with pink teddies in. It wasn’t with the other crane machines it was hidden next to the motorbike game,where you could smell the chips remember?
Nan was none the wiser, the little girl was not crestfallen though. Now the little girl was back by the amazing machine that simply plucked teddies out of a pile and delivered them to happy children. Mum commented that the trip was 5 years ago, I estimate that would have made her 4 or 5 years old.
That for me sums up the delight of childhood and the coast in one easy chapter. When your most important memories of a trip are the smell of chips and a machine in the back of the arcade. That, people, is when your priorities are right!
When I was talking to the happy foster couple the other day they told me how they take their children away. Apparently studies have shown that they don’t remember anything at such young ages but they feel they deserve the experience. Now before I gush on about how lovely this is and how lucky we all are that such people exist, I have to challenge the theory.
I was not brought up in a wealthy family but my mother was adamant that as babies we had holidays. We didn’t go abroad, we had out of season caravans at the coast. I don’t remember details but something must have snuck into my consciousness. I say this because I still get a shiver when I look at a pier. The paint may be peeling and the timbers splintered. But the sight of those seaweed draped legs, broken and seemingly random, still evokes warm memories.
I love the noise and smells of the enclosed areas. The brisk breeze and sense of freedom from standing at the end of the pier looking back at the coast. I have no idea what it is but we all have childhood conditioning, not direct memories as such but senses that reside deep within us. However it is that they are generated our seaside wouldn’t be the same without them. Without that inner sense would people still travel 70 miles to spend the weekend in a box, then travel 2 miles further to spend the day in a smaller box.
The glorious sunshine streaming over a calm ocean and a flat golden beach this morning was yet more evidence of Ms Nature and her war of attrition with the male race. The salty film on my windows, peppered with tear streaks from the rain, is being baked on by the powerful sun, why does this confirm the presence of Ms Nature? because it is Tuesday today, the bank holiday weekend is over and, in the standard family unit, dads are returning to work. Because the children are not at school mum and kids often stay at their holiday home for this week whilst dad returns to work before rejoining them at the weekend, an opportunity Ms Nature couldn’t miss.
So dad is at work, tired from a long weekend battling the elements and a family confined to a caravan because of the bad weather, looking out of his window at a glorious day. When the family phone call occurs this evening the children will recount stories of their day on the pier or playing in the park before returning the phone to mum, relaxing on the veranda with a glass of wine. Dad will listen to this story of idyllic coastal life all week and will load the car with BBQ provisions on Friday before crawling through the traffic to arrive, exhausted to the words ‘it’s turned very overcast this afternoon and they are forecasting rain’ I can almost hear the cackle of Ms Nature in the wind.
I managed last night to peel off the home made plaster from righty, this morning it looks like I have been performing satanic rituals in bed! Because the wound is long and straight, and I tend to move about a lot in the night, I produce a random pattern of bloody crosses on the bed linen which maps my nightly movements. Spectacularly I woke in the middle of the night with a pillow actually stuck to my arm, a situation that I can tell you takes some comprehension in the middle of the night and your arm appears oversize and softer than expected.
Many thanks to Jenny for pointing out the thing that I was missing with the god awful rise in “onesies”, it’s not because the world has gone mad or because some modern foodstuff is causing mental regression. The reason that I keep seeing adults wearing the bloody things is much simpler, they can’t get them off! This is so obvious when I think about it, after all that’s one of the advantages that they have for babies, they can’t undress themselves, so the same must be true for these poor unfortunate adults. Much like a cat stuck up a tree or a child with its head in railings these adults have crawled into the “onesie” and are stuck, they need our help not our derision.
Never one to mock the afflicted I have now altered my attitude to these poor unfortunates and in future when I see them I will respond more appropriately, I intend to treat them much as a small child so will wrestle them to the floor for convenience and then attack the fasteners. It will be harder to control their struggling limbs as they are larger but my memory tells me that one arm and one leg at a time is the way forward and always make sure the head is supported. Imagine the joy on their faces when, rather than laughing at their misery, I actually help them and release them from their shackles, I shall be held up as a saviour. If you want to share in the gratitude and adulation then just remember next time you see a “onesie” on an adult set them free, together we can save them all.
The great weather entrapment is going full swing on the coast today with probably the largest flakes of snow I have ever seen gently drifting onto the ice cream signs. If it keeps up we could have tourism by default because those that are here wont be able to get out.
Honourable mention to Elaine for yesterday, when faced with a young gay couple she took it all in her stride despite their youthful lack of self control and very public displays, only after a few hours did she think to ask one of the couple how her boyfriend was. It was a sight to behold as she was slowly walked through the storyline of breaking up, changing paths and making up, the woman is a legend so much so that I am going to buy her some peppermint shoes on account of the amount of time that they spend in her mouth!
Today was one of those days when the majesty of nature reminds you that we are only visitors to its domain. With nothing to stop them, easterly winds roar down the coast whipping the sea into a foaming frenzy, battering property and distributing sand far and wide. One side of my flat is at 90 degrees to the sea and the winds overnight have mounted a violent assault on that side of the building. Looking out of the window confirmed that the snow was travelling horizontally along the sea front, mixed with sand picked up from the beach which ensures that in high winds we don’t see snow settling.
There are lots of quirks to living at the easterly edge of the country, if the winter wind changes direction to blow in over the sea then there is no defence and we all reach for buckets or draught excluders. Salt air presents a marvellous test for stainless steel and invariably confirms that only the very best is actually stainless! For over a year I struggled to understand why my vacuum cleaner fills with sand even if I don’t walk anywhere near the beach, now I know you just can’t stop it being blown through every crack or gap in the building. The outside of the building needs regular attention to deal with the constant shot blasting, to say nothing of cars which see a lower valuation if they are in coastal homes.
For me this is part of the joy of living by the coast, I adore the power of the sea and the ever changing landscape and I love that sneaky ‘insider’ view of the ice cream shop being battered by snow.