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No room at the.....beach! In the land of the North Coast 500


We had it finally, summer. Well actually one day where I can safely say it felt like that. No grey hue, instead warmth; actually hot would be nearer the truth. Real heat coming from a blazing sun in an azure blue sky, perfect. The beach was calling. It had been awhile since we’ve been. We normally frequented the beaches in ‘unseasonable weather’ but we have had so much of that lately it has almost turned into the norm. No one was around last time. Don’t you just love having that massive expanse all to yourself? Just the crash of the waves, the call of the gulls and the sand whipping into your eyes. Ok maybe not the last bit. But you can get the image. In fact if you look back to a previous blog, you can see how empty the place was before.

So on the one day of summer why not step out of our ordinarily rhythm and head for sea and sand? No need of thick jackets, not for us the great big woolly bonnet designed to keep every form of rain, wind and snow out of your hair. In fact the only hat we needed to consider was a sun one.

It didn’t take us long to remember why we didn’t frequent our many beaches dotted around the area. The first one we tried you couldn’t get near for cars parked on either side of the road, in the car park, in the over flow. Nowhere to stop and gaze or wander down to the inviting sea. Yes, that would be the water that in actual fact if you dared to dip a toe in, would immediately grip you with a deep penetrating cold, leaving your feet wearing a Scottish tartan all of their own, in a fetching orange and blue. I had temporally forgotten that joy; where you rushed into the inviting waves and the sheer cold knocked your breath clean out of your body and the thin costume you were wearing was then surrounded by mottled flesh that matched your previously frozen feet. We however couldn’t even get close to a grain of sand, never mind the water. So off we went to the next beach.

We reckoned this one was a little out of the way and probably only known to locals. But alas I had forgotten about the modern Apps that take all the fun out of the adventure of finding somewhere totally unexpected. Does nobody just wander ‘lonely as a cloud’ (William Wordsworth) any more? Do we have to know where we are going, how long it will take and while we are at it where the nearest take away and shop are, before we even start on a journey?

So, third time lucky and despite the trail of abandoned cars on both sides of the single track road; we find it, the holy grail of the would be beach worshippers, a parking place. Right where it should be in a car park. Not on somebodies lawn, or croft, or private space. No, this was a genuine proper place to park, switch off and head on down to that summer sun destination. Only once we reached it, the wind was blowing stronger and the temperature had dropped enough to make it just this side of cool. A rush to the water resulted in gasping for breath and constant wheezing. I whipped the towel around in an attempt to get warm and sprayed sand everywhere including into my eye. Well that saved the wind a job. My lunch I found was ‘enhanced’ by an extra layer of crunchy sand. I shivered in the ever cooling day. Sand was everywhere and I didn’t mean on the beach, I meant in my hair, my toes, my, well everything. And then I remembered that actually warm sunny days are better spent elsewhere to enjoy. That in reality, I preferred my beach days to be ones where you arrive wrapped up in layers of warm clothing. When only hardy souls like me are around. When I can barely hear the birds overhead because the sea and waves are crashing with so much might and violence that I stop and stare in awe. When the wind whips my hair and my eyes stream from the sheer force of nature. When as I head home, I am warm and exhilarated by the constant bombardment of nature on my senses. When a red nose is due to the cold and wind and not the heat and sun. When damp sand that infiltrated more than just my toes is firming kept out by sturdy boots and clothing. When left over human rubbish doesn’t litter the sand but instead nature displays its own gallery of intriguing shells and colourful seaweeds. When humans haven’t scoured the surface but nature still rules, a time then outwith this summer madness. Where people can still come, find a place to park and enjoy this amazing place in relative peace and quiet and reflect on what once was our very own norm.

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© 2020 by Ceitidh Hutton