Me and the Sea, the Sea and Me, we are very good friends. And like all good friendships there is sweet sorrow when we are parted. I think of our friendship often, and cannot stay away for too long or else a sadness sets in. A sort of melancholy which can only be lifted by a reunion.
The last time the Sea and Me got to hang out together was on my Birthday last year, the 12th October. So more than a third of a year ago, cripes no wonder I've been pining like a love-sick teenager! No wonder I've been feeling slightly deranged and desperate for a reunion, it's been far too long!
last week sometime, I decide I can take the separation no longer and I
hatch a plan. I have a little looky on the internet and try to figure
out where I can persuade my family to go which won't involve hour upon
hour of car travel and won't deliver the type of kiss-me-quick rundown tacky
English seaside resort that I am not keen on. And I hit upon the little
village of Heysham.
From internet-information it looks like just the thing :: quirky, quaint, ancient, small village shops, a large expanse of beach, an ancient ruined church, no amusement arcades, no candy floss. I can ignore the fact that there is a huge, ugly power station nearby. I can ignore the fact that there are huge, ugly commercial shipping docks nearby. I can ignore the fact that it is only a hop and a skip down the road from Morecambe (which I have visited before and found depressing)
So on Sunday the first day of March, ten am and we set off. We estimate one hour and twenty minutes to drive to Heysham. It rains as we drive, it is grey, cold and not very nice looking as the rain spatters on the windscreen. Yet miraculously, as we get nearer to the coast the sky clears and sunshine appears as if it has been ordered. We cheer, well I do any road, J and the Little People are quite non-plussed about the whole trip but I am jubilant and quite over excited.
There is always going to be a slightly tense moment when one arrives at an unknown destination with such high hopes. Will it be OK? Will it provide us with a top-notch family day out? Will it delight, will it provide joy and happiness? Will it make us some Good Memories?
I am delighted to report that yes, Heysham did all of the above.
It was fabulous! A near deserted, picturesque, charming little village. A loooooooong sea front with a promenade stretching as far as the eye could see. And a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge stretch of sandy beach, also pretty much deserted except for one or two couples and a dog.
Onto the sands we go, it's breezy and fresh, chilly even, but bright and energising, and oh just perfect! I can't tell you how happy I am to be beside the sea again.
The boys go off to search the rockpools for fish and crabs. Us girls are slower, scouring the sands for shells.
I am so blissed out. I turn my face up to the sun, out to the distant horizon, along the shoreline, down to the ripply sands. I hear the cry of gulls, the lap of waves and the shouts of my children as they run, discover, share, enjoy.
The tide comes in fast in Morecambe Bay. It literally races in like a horse. So when J notices quite suddenly that the tide is indeed racing towards us at quite an alarming rate, our playtime on the beach is cut short. But no matter, it's pretty much lunch time anyways.
Now usually we are a family of picnickers. We set off on any outing with a bulging rucksack containing all the food and drink we might possibly need for the day, with the exception of ice cream. But for this trip we decided to Splash Out and instead of slightly squashed sandwiches and an apple, we go for the Pub Lunch option. Such luxury! Luckily for us, Heysham has a most delightful pub, an exceptionally old (many hundreds of years) building, with low beamed ceilings and a large open fire. And very, very good food. It was quite simply a delicious lunch.
After the pub, we set out to explore a bit of Heysham Village. We walk up past St Peters Church perched precariously on the cliff top, it's grounds smothered with purple crocus.
The path winds up through some trees and emerges out on the open cliff where the ancient ruins of St Patrick's Chapel look out to sea.
I love cliff top scenery. Love the yellow of the gorse flowers against the blue of sea and sky. Love the way the grass always seems so green and springy on cliff tops, love the open-ness and breeziness, the views of the horizon, the expanse of it all.
There is a little wooden bench up here, so J and I sit a while with a flask of coffee and some chocolate and watch as our Little People explore. They run, they shout, they hide and seek amongst the chapel ruins. Its joyful to watch, it expands my heart, makes me feel full-to-bursting.
From the cliff tops we meander down through a small woodland. I love the light here, the play of sunshine and shadows. And I love the fresh greens of newly emerging bluebell shoots and mossy rocks.
Down from the little wood and back to the village, we stroll around the lanes....
....admire the little rows of cottages....
....the beautifully planted and decorated seaside gardens....
....ancient buildings and beautifully coloured front doors.
Heysham is turning out to be everything I hoped it would be, and I find myself delighted by it all.
Even the benches are quirky and charming in Heysham.
Yes, there is great spirit here in Heysham. You can feel it in every nook and cranny. In the wide open seascape and the intimate little lanes. In the ancient buildings and the quirky details.
We shall be returning soon, I can already hear it calling to me. And the Little People demand it too. There's trouble persuading them it's time to go home, they simply don't want to leave. They clutch their found shells and ask quite matter of factly if there's a hotel where we could stay, so we can wait for the tide to race back out again and return to the sands for more.
Soon, we will surely be back again soon.