When I stand on the beach, with the wind nipping at my ears and whipping my hair, I can lose myself in the enormity of it all. I look one way and see nothing but sea, spilling off the edge of the horizon. I look another and see the wrought iron pier with the strange edifice just off the end; the wooden remnants of the fire thirty five years ago. I can turn three hundred and sixty degrees and not one inch of the landscape appears unchanged. This was my childhood playground and I have made it my children’s and grandchildren's playground too.
We drive out here as often as we can and walk for miles. We count the colourful beach huts and run up and down the sand dunes. We dream of living in one of the houses opposite – in a 1950’s carefree style – shorts and sandals, picnics, adventures and endless holidays. We prefer this end of the beach because it feels like a local secret. The tourists stay near the shops and the hotels, paddling in the boating lake and digging into their expensive ice creams.
Whilst lost in my daydream there has been a flurry of activity further down the beach. The kite surfers are out, taking advantage of the weather. It’s not too cold but the wind strength is ideal. The surfers head the half mile out to the water’s edge, clinging to their kites so they don’t get dragged along. It must be amazing to be out on the water today, dipping and diving like a bird. Free but with a sense of danger.
As I lick my lips I can taste salt. We haven’t been near the water yet but the wind carries the spray even this far. I breathe in deeply and, for a final time for another few weeks, take in the smell of my childhood and think that we are lucky to have this so close to home.
A version of this essay first appeard on The Vandal back in October 2010 and I've been meaning to rewrite it for a long time. Lancashire Day felt like the perfect time. Any time I'm feeling a bit out of sorts, I head over to 'my beach' and find myself at ease again.