A Seaside Preoccupation

Can’t resist wondering….why?

In Britain we have an ever changing attitude to our own seaside.  From Georgian and Victorian times one went to the coast to enjoy its healthful and rejuvenative properties; in the early part of the 20th century, if the photos are to be believed, whole bus and trainfuls of happy city folk made trips to sit on  deckchairs, loosen their corsets, roll up their trouser legs and lie on the beach protected from the prevailing breezes by brightly striped windbreaks,  Mr Whippy cornets in their hands.

By the time I came along, although, as a young child I lived relatively close to the south coast, we rarely went to the beach; in fact my only memory of being on a beach when I was small was of being told off for going into the water by someone else’s mother, as she rubbed roughly at where my feet and shins were covered in the oil I’d managed to wade through because I’d wondered why some of the sea looked black on top.  I recall feeling the injustice of the reprimand: I was only a curious child, while she was the adult who knew that the water was polluted, information which she failed to share with me.

Subsequently, as a nation, we preferred to go to Spain, or Italy, somewhere that could guarantee us sunshine without rain, and our own domestic seaside towns started to crumble into through shabbiness into decrepitude and dereliction.  Buildings which had been emblems of civic pride when first constructed became the sad proof of the decline or our interest in our own shorelines.

And now the cycle is turning back to where the evolution began. We can see the charm of our own seaside; the vagaries and unpredictability of the weather add to the experience.  How much more enjoyable is a cup of tea or a glass of wine in front of a roaring fire, if we’ve walked heads bowed against the wind and rain to get to it?  And how much greater the pleasure when the forecast has promised us rain all weekend, and the sun breaks through the clouds and blinds us, albeit for just a moment?

I suspect a coastal town has always attracted the eccentrics and restless amongst us, and now Hastings and Bexhill have become home to an increasing number of artists, but I don’t know who created the pebble sculpture on the beach in Bexhill. It must have taken hours.

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2 Comments

  1. I love Bexhill – must look out for these sculptures on my next visit!

    Reply
    • It’s always worth a stroll along the beach there, isn’t it? There’s a great exhibition on at the De La Warr at the moment too.

      Reply

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