My happiest early childhood memories always combine three elements – sea, sun and sand – into the memorable experiences that remain with me to this day. The days were always hot, sunny and sticky but cooling off in the sea was worth the seemingly interminable wait for Dad to load the car and being stuck on the hard part of the back seat between my older siblings with the shaggy dog slobbering over my shoulders. The warm crunchy sandwiches doled out by Mam after the all-important “first swim”.
I remember the summers from my early working years by the number of times I didn’t get to the beach as I was either working weekends or living inland and away from the coast. The long hot summer of 1989 was punctuated by one disappointing visit to the stony beach in Brighton. When I returned to live and work in Ireland being close to a beach wasn’t a conscious decision but I couldn’t see myself living too far from a good beach.
A good beach is my favourite leisure location at all times of the year – nowhere more relaxing on a hot summers day and a great place to blow the cobwebs away with a brisk walk during the winter. A September evening with the tide coming in over sand heated during the day is heavenly for a swim. To me spending time on a beach is very tactile – be it feeling the grain of the sand underfoot, the envelopment of the sea, warmth of the sun (hopefully), sound of the water and/or the goose pimples from the breeze!
In recent years sea swimming has become a hobby and it has given me a better understanding for the different conditions that can enhance or detract from the experience of a day at the beach. Tide levels, water quality, sand levels and litter can all detract from the enjoyment. A little research and planning can maximise the pleasure but litter on a beach still irritates me and I scour the various online resources for jelly fish reports during the months that I swim without a wet-suit.
My love of the beach came from my parents and I hope to pass it on to my kids. I still marvel at the how a bucket and spade can conjure up so many uses and allow their imaginations run riot. Our beaches and coastal waters are a shared, public, free resource and we should protect them for our kids and later generations.
Article kindly provided by Andrew Roe (a beach lover)