I think I must have once been a mermaid, or maybe I wasn’t. But there is surely some reason for my need to return again and again to the sea. Perhaps instead it’s something inherent in my being. My father was born and brought up within a stone’s throw of the sea in Dun Laoghaire. As a child his summers were spent swimming each day at the forty foot bathing place immortalised by Joyce in Ulysses as Buck Mulligan’s choice of location for his daily dip. I wish that my dad had decided to bring his own children up close to the sea but instead we had to make do with two weeks every summer. For that, at least, I am grateful. Similarly I made sure that my children too visited the sea, Devon or Corwall every summer and Aberdovey in Wales in the Autumn.
Worcestershire (my home) is a county full of pretty villages, the countryside as beautiful as any, and The Cotswolds are easily accessible to anyone with a car. Visiting my daughter in lovely Shropshire delights the senses too. In these, and many other places we can walk beside rivers, stroll around parks, sit peacefully marvelling at the stunning views. But none, in my book, compare to the joyous experience of feeling the sea breeze on one’s face. Breathing in the pure air is healing to both the mind and spirit. Our home is just about as far away from the sea in the UK as it’s possible to be and days at the sea can only be enjoyed as part of a holiday. Busy lives benefit from time out and there’s something about the sea that pulls me back again and again. Husband and I have spent the last week in a beautiful lodge set high on a cliff overlooking St. Mary’s Bay close to the fishing town of Brixham in South Devon. A case of “I must go down to the sea again,” even if the heavy traffic meant that it took more than five hours to get there!
If you’re looking for a sandy beach then, whilst you will find beautiful ones elsewhere in Devon, Brixham’s not the place for you. It is a busy fishing town (a fish market with a £40million annual turnover equating to £120 million retail value) with as pretty a harbour and marina as you’ll find anywhere, and the pride of its 17,500 residents in their home town is evident everywhere. Winners of several gold awards in the Britain in Bloom competitions, the volunteers are responsible for stunning displays all over the town.
We didn’t venture far out because a) it was to be a relaxing holiday, and b) it was far too hot! A great deal of time was spent doing nothing but reading on the balcony at the lodge. We also did a lot of sitting and watching (despite my troublesome eye – no eye make up for a whole week!) in the town, enjoying the gentle roll of the waves against the rocks and watching the working boats coming and going in the harbour …
…and the marina full of leisure craft.
And on a windy day, with the white clouds flying, although it was still hot, we took a walk along the breakwater out to the lighthouse. It stretches for half a mile and the view from here gives a very different perspective of the harbour and the town and across the whole of Torbay.
The lodge in which we stayed was only three months old and even better than we had imagined it would be. We dreamed a little of buying one and chose our plot. Here is what would be our view from the sitting room. Unfortunately, barring a lottery win, the required (minimum of) £175,000 isn’t available!
This is the seagull who landed on the balcony table and tried to pick up my coffee cup in his beak! Frustrated at his lack of success he actually flew inside through the patio doors and swiped some biscuits from the coffee table! A bird of taste – M&S lemon cookies no less! I didn’t really mind, I like seagulls. I wrote about them here: In praise of seagulls). I spent more time in the past week listening to them communicating that I’ve ever done before and I am astounded at the range of different calls and the way that they appear to communicate differently in pairs than in groups.
Brixham by night