For someone who didn’t grow up anywhere near the coast and now lives as far away from the shore as it’s possible on an (admittedly large) island, I seem to be surprisingly drawn towards the seaside. What I really crave is to smell and taste the salty air, hear the sound of crying gulls and battering waves, and feel the fresh wind on my face. What better way to reboot your brain, even if it means thorough hair and face scrubbing as well as careful cleaning of glasses and camera lenses afterwards to remove all the salt! Facing the Atlantic Ocean in Cornwall or the North Sea in Yorkshire when the winds blow and the waves grow taller and taller makes you feel very small – and very much alive! As both places are quite a distance away, I happily settle for a stroll along the Brighton seafront on a blustery day.
However, I can appreciate the gentler seaside too. My very first visit to the Jurassic Coast took me to West Lulworth in Dorset on a calm April morning . The natural limestone arch of Durdle Door, white cliffs, and beautiful coves formed a scenery that totally blew me away. Hubby and I came across a few dog walkers and hikers but otherwise it was refreshingly quiet. You could just admire the view and watch the dark clouds starting to gather on the horizon. (I have since visited little towns and fishing villages on the Devon side of the Jurassic Coast – one named Beer particularly sticks to my mind – and although they didn’t make the same impact, they still had the necessary invigorating effect on me.)
Completely different but equally captivating is St Ives in Cornwall, a bustling picture postcard town with cobbled streets and a a Mediterranean feel. Although it’s busy – and probably quite unbearable in peak season – it has a great vibe and more to offer than just the pretty beaches and harbour. It also has some of the boldest, most scheming gulls – or so it seemed: you really have to hold on to your pasties, chips, and ice-cream if you are brave enough to try to eat them outside. Expect an attack from any direction! But as annoying as they might seem, the seaside would not feel or sound right without them.
You may wonder why I haven’t mentioned any of the more exotic locations with miles of soft sand and clear blue water. The truth is I’ve never been on a beach holiday and they’ve never appealed to me although I’ve mellowed enough over the years to appreciate short periods at traditional resorts. After all, there is something quite quaint about the rows of colourful beach huts, deck chairs, and huge parasols as well as fish & chips by the sea (if you are in the UK). That is enough though! To me, it’s more fun and relaxing to explore the fishing villages or walk along the pebbly beaches that most tourists wouldn’t look for.