It’s Bank Holiday Monday… and fairly typically for England, it’s raining. However, I guess there will be plenty of people heading towards the coast, hoping that the saying ‘rain before seven, dry by eleven’ will be true… actually it often is, apparently a weather front generally takes that amount of time to pass, so although it can sometimes or even often be true, it’s not actually an accurate prediction!
These days people have more flexibility and more holidays but when I was young a Bank Holiday was a treat to be taken advantage of. We lived in Cambridge, and it was about seventy miles to the coast; I can’t remember how we got to the seaside before we had a car when I was about seven or eight, I guess we went by coach from Drummer Street, or by train. We would go to the Norfolk coast where I know my dad would have gone as a boy, not the south coast where my mum’s family came from.
There weren’t all the amusements and shops and attractions at the places we visited, but we were happy to dig in the sand, paddle and swim in the sea however cold it was (and the North Sea is very cold!) and however dull the day or even rainy… a picnic on the beach, even huddled under raincoats, it was just such a treat to be by the seaside. We would find jelly fish, sometimes huge ones, and my dad would tell us the best thing for their stings was tomatoes – he had learned that from the Arabs during the war, and do I remember him extracting a slice of tomato from a sandwich to put on my leg where I had been stung? later when we had a car and could travel home more quickly, we would dig for cockles, but we never ever collected razor clams which are so popular now, even though we picked up their long, pretty shells. We would make pictures and patterns on the sand with seaweed and pebbles and empty shells, we would dig deep holes, or channels for the sea, or make castles, we would collect things we found…
There were often interesting things on the beach, huge decomposing sea creatures, dolphins maybe or seals more likely, and occasionally there would be an old sea-mine washed ashore, and roped off – not very securely, but maybe people were more sensible or more aware of how dangerous they were. There would be driftwood, some of it very old which had no doubt been at sea for maybe years, some of it planks of wood washed off ships taking cargoes to Lowestoft.
I hope the weather brightens up today for all the visitors to our west coast seaside town… but I guess whether there is rain or shine, there will be lots of children digging in the sand and having fun as their parents shiver behind wind breaks, huddled in jumpers and raincoats.
Rain before seven… find out more: