Monday, 10 September 2012

A day at the beach

I don't often go to the beach, and I've never been to the Lancashire coast, bar an unpleasant stay in Blackpool for the NUS conference many years ago. For me, the beach means sand in the face, social mixing and sexual licence. Not personally, you understand - but in a lot of the fiction and travel writing I've been reading, such as Lewis Jones's Cwmardy and We Live.

In Cwmardy, poor weird Len, who has underlying incestuous desires, happens upon his sister Doing It with a pit-manager's son - the class enemy. So he becomes a Communist (I paraphrase). In the sequel, his Party branch go to Blackpool. Len's at first horrified by the brassy women - drinking and flirting - until his girlfriend Mary tells him to grow up. He then tries to recreate what he saw his sister (who died in childbirth thanks to that day on the dunes) up to, with Mary, but she stops him: she too is dying - rather slowly - and they must dedicate themselves to The People instead.

I also just read an article about Mary Morgan's Tour To Milford Haven in the Year 1791 which says she was scared by the power, liminality and licence available at the beach. On the other hand, it also says that watching her husband go swimming re-enacts maternal separation anxiety, which just goes to show that having a theory doesn't justify anything.

So beaches are weird places, culturally and psychologically. But not this one. Obviously my reading coloured my experience, but there were no psychological or cultural shenanigans. Just natural beauty and good friends. Did I take pictures? I did take pictures. You can see them all here, and you can enlarge these samples by clicking on them. Red squirrels! Well, one red squirrel. But that's one more than I'd ever seen before. I read the other day that grey squirrels have been known to swim the treacherous Menai Straits to Ynys Môn / Anglesey. As Dan pointed out, they must be pretty dumb: there are two massive bridges they could use instead.

'You won't see any red squirrels', said Ben. 'Too late in the day and too close to the ice-cream van'. 3 minutes later… Didn't see any more, mind.

I'm convinced a calendar of Dan scowling at the environment would be a best-seller

What an insect. Anyone know what's it's called?

A rabbit lurked nervously in the mouth of a burrow until the kestrel got annoyed by us and flapped off

(A few more in the next blog entry)