FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND
Tomorrow, I will have been back in Weymouth for exactly a year. Time has flown and I am oh so glad to be back. I have visited all the old familiar beaches, skimmed stones, paddled and collected shells. The tide has turned almost a thousand times but the sea has still not lost its appeal. To smell the salt in the air and hear the waves upon the shore excites me now every bit as much as on that first day back one year ago.
This morning the weather was bright and crisp and I decided to visit one of my favourite seaside haunts called Bowleaze Cove. I parked the car and marched purposefully seaward. Unlike the sumptuously sandy town centre beach, Bowleaze Cove is mostly shingle, with a little sand and lots of pebbles. To one side, of course, is the sea to right and left the most fabulous views of a sweeping coastline and to the rear, rugged cliffs and beyond a sprawling Wildlife Park. What more could a girl wish for. There are even a couple of lovely little cafés and a restaurant for those with pennies in their pockets to quench their thirst and satisfy hunger. Perfect.
I wandered along, pausing to pick up a shell or examine a pebble as I went. We are on the Jurassic coast and ammonites and fossils are still to be found from time to time. There are also some very unusual shells on the beach at this time of year, washed up by the stormy waters of wintery days. I can happily spend a couple of hours treasure hunting and allowing the breeze to blow away my cobwebs.
At the far end of the beach, my cheeks rosy and eyes bright, I was making footprints in the sand and watching as the tide erased each one, just as though I had not been there at all, when a little boy came to join me. He asked me what I was doing and told me his name. He further told me that he was seven and a half and pointed out his two sisters and his Mother, just a little way away. I learned that his Mother’s name was Anna and that his dog was called Jo but his sister called it Teddy. My new friend asked me how old I was and when I told him that I was 65 he said “Wow. That’s very old! You are nearly two times as old as my Mummy and she is old, she is nearly 35!!” I smiled and asked him how much 2 times 35 was and his swift reply of 70 amused me. He then went on to explain that I was five years younger than twice times his Mummy’s age and I thanked him for clearing up any confusion I may have had….His Mother and sisters joined us briefly and I introduced myself and chatted a while before wandering off to another sandy patch where I made myself comfortable and sat down to think a while and reflect. To my amazement my little friend came trotting up again and sat down next to me. He showed me some treasures that he had collected – a couple of brilliant skimming stones, an assortment of shells and a rather smelly bit of seaweed with a shell attached to one end. He then proudly presented me with one of the skimming stones and said “This is for you.” I nearly wept, but took my gift with gratitude and joy. As swiftly as he arrived, the little chap then jumped up and trotted off, back to his family, where he proceeded to chase his sisters with his smelly bit of seaweed as they shrieked and giggled for all they were worth. Aren’t children priceless?
Left to ponder by myself, I marvelled that even now, in this very dangerous World in which we live, the seaside and all its wonders breaks down barriers and inhibitions and encourages camaraderie and friendship where normally it would not exist. I smiled at the thought that a Mother felt relaxed enough to allow her child to chatter with me and smiled some more at the memory of my own children at the age of seven or eight. When my boys were not at school, we spent many hours together on the beach and inevitably they would drift off for a while and then arrive back with a succession of new friends and exciting tales to tell.
The World spins onwards and just as the waves erased my footprints making way for the next man to make his mark, so my own small boys, now grown men, are replaced by others, with Mothers called Anna and a dog called Jo or maybe even Teddy – who can tell. There will always be skimmers to be tossed and shells to be found and of course, there may well be a piece of smelly seaweed with a shell at one end to chase you with if you don’t watch out. Enjoy every moment, no matter if you are eight or eighty. Days at the seaside are precious gifts indeed.