Monday, April 13, 2015

By the sea


Happisburgh
I love being by the sea. I try to make it to the seaside  at least once every year - more if I can. Not always a seaside holiday, but a visit just long enough to hear that crash of surf, to taste the tang of salt in the air, and to enjoy the view of open sea and beach.

Today I went to Happisburg (check pronounciation, it'll amaze) in Norfolk. Only a short visit, but long enough to let my eyes stretch over the blue - for the sky and the sea to meet, for clouds to loom and lower, and for distant seagulls to appear like flotsam upon the waves. I got my fix.

Many years ago I wrote a song with the lines 'I hear the sea and it calls to me, I feel the sea and it draws me in, I am beckoned by the ocean like the wolf is by the moon'. That is how I feel when I see the sea - it's like the sirens are there, calling me, saying come into the water, into the arms of the loving ocean. Of course I don't go, I am tied to the mast of reality and the call is like an echo, not the irresistible voice of the siren but a memory of the desire.
Brighton - our vanity in ruins

That may sound a little crazy, but how many people do you know who want to live or retire and be by the sea? Why do we populate the shores of this small island where our houses might (and do) fall into the sea, where a rising tide can flood our homes, and where the storms can strike our presence from the very soil upon which we build? I think it is an island people thing. This is a small country, and wherever you are you don't have to go too far to find the sea.

I don't want to retire to the seaside though; I love the remote beaches where no penny-arcade has yet dared to plant its glittering lights, yet I fear the bleak emptiness of isolation and the power of a sea unchecked. There must be some place that fits between the two - not too commercial, yet not too remote, but I haven't found it yet.

Seaside visits do me just fine in the meantime. I can birdwatch, if the weather is fine I can paddle or swim, and if I were to have children with me again (and even if I did not), then I could build sandcastles and a mock Stonehenge from beach stones and driftwood.

If you want to see me thoughtful, but in truth happy, just take me to the sea.

Photos: all (C) Carolyn Sheppard.
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