We don’t often go to the seaside here. It’s quite a long way to drive and the nearest, most convenient seaside towns are actually on the estuary rather than the wide open sea. So, the days of going off with a picnic on a sunny Sunday to one of the blustery, East Yorkshire coastal towns – usually Hornsea – are the stuff of memory. We didn’t have a car, so everything was packed into a couple of bags which were easy to carry onto the train with us.
Living in the East Riding, our yearly holiday in Newquay was a great adventure. Though, once there, we did the same things as we’d do back in Hornsea: play on the beach, sit and enjoy the sunshine and run in and out of the sea all day long. My parents deliberately chose beaches with a minimum of alternative amusements and when we reached the beach, we always had to walk to the furthest, quietest point to set up camp.
Occasionally, my Nan and Grandad would come with us and in true English style, they’d sit on the beach, fully dressed, the one concession to the season being summer shoes and sandals. Oh, and it was probably the only time my Nan would consider going out without a hat! (I have no idea whose dog that is!)
These were the days. Happy times playing in the surf with a wooden board – I’m not sure it was referred to as a “boogie board” then. A deckchair for each adult, a tin of sandwiches (cream, rectangular with a green lid…funny how we remember these details!) and a Thermos flask of tea. We wanted for nothing more – or perhaps I did! I’m sure I lusted after the brightly coloured beach toys and probably whinged for ice cream all day, but for a family on a budget, this was a great holiday.
So it was interesting to observe the beach life in Lyme Regis the other day and compare it to my seaside experiences. Families had set up camp in the same way as they always did, but this time, there were small tents for the children; protection from the sun which is so much more of a concern now than it was then. There was a sea of brightly coloured plastic paraphernalia, but few were building sandcastles or playing catch with a ball. In fact, it was hard to see any children busy doing anything.
The traditional deck chairs were still there, but seldom used since everyone seemed to have their own folding chair, brought with them in the car and the abundance of fast food available the whole way along the beach meant that there was no need to bring a picnic.
It’s clear we’ve come a long way since the simple days on the beach. A raised concern about our safety has to be a good thing, cleaner beaches and safe water to swim in can’t be bad and the information signs such as this one are really helpful in showing tide times, weather forecasts and suchlike. We also noticed a strict “no dogs” policy on almost every beach, though in some cases, there was a designated area for them to run. But so many rules and regulations, so much information to take in makes a day at the seaside not quite the simple affair it was.
It’s interesting how the beach hut has become so fashionable too, though few were in use the other day. The beach hut design motif is everywhere alongside the nautical stripes, the rope, wooden seagulls and scrubbed driftwood. The seaside has become another decorating opportunity and these coastal clichés are to be found everywhere, replacing the cheap seaside souvenirs and sticks of rock.
Oh, and whilst we’re on the subject of cliché…