From the moment I awoke this morning, I had the urge to swim in the sea.
Well the Thames Estuary really…
So technically not an ocean, but the closest thing I have to swimming in the Pacific Ocean – my favourite body of water in the world.
As much as everything I am doing in my life, is with an intent to slingshot me, eventually, back to the other side of the world and living in New Zealand. Which is the place I would one day like to call home. For now I have the joy of spending time one sunshine day, on the shoreline of my hometown and birthplace, Southend on Sea.
Walking the shingle sand, is one of my favourite past times and puts me directly in contact and intertwines intimately with, happiness and freedom.
It connects me with my childhood – spending time in a neighbours beach hut, as a little girl, frolicking in the water with my friends in the lazy, hot summer holidays. Of time spent with my mother in law, when she was alive. Barbara enjoyed being in the water as much as I did. It was always a pleasure to swim in her company – in my husbands extended family, we took our little ones down together. Where they merrily played in the rubber ring with their nanny. Coming home after to tea time, bath, story and bed. For me time spent together as a family, is important. As they grew older, I would load my children and their friends in the back of our van with towels and flip flops – laughter and the sweet sound of children communicating and drive down to Thorpe Bay beach after school. Here we would swim, my pleasure taken, not just from my love of being in the water but the love I felt in sharing this wonderful gift with my children and their friends. It’s where I realised that I hadn’t spent enough time in the company of my niece Imogeon as she grew up, whilst we doggy paddled in the shallows and talked. It was where I recognised the simplicity of sharing kindness with those children, whom didn’t seem to have a lot of love in their lives. I suppose there was a part of me, which wanted to share my happiness and freedom with them. Hoping it would give them the same pleasure, I received, each time I stepped in.
There were many years I walked this shoreline, with my friend Emma. Delving deep into our existential contemplation of life. The universe, reality and fantasy. I miss her company still, sometimes. Of laying on the beach with Caroline – nattering away about our lives and enjoying the water as it trickled over our skin when swimming. Of recently sharing selfies with Lorraine – as teenagers nonchalantly looked on. I always knew their was a hint of Edina and Patsy in Lorraine and I. It pops up at times. This time on the beach.
Even swimming in the estuary on christmas day didn’t deter my joy. My children didn’t come down. So in my happiness at being free, I found a sadness at not being with those I love the most, for a short period of time.
Emma and I would bring a flask of tea, hot water bottles to keep towels warm, with us. We swam in the cold water throughout the winter. The feeling releasing my soul and sending it soaring as the coldness touched my skin. I became bodily free.
Making love with my husband on our honeymoon (25 years ago) in the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea and years later on Koh Tao in Thailand reminds me always of our love. As water laps over my toes – my memories are brought to life.
When the tide is in on our estuary. The expanse of water, offers an ever expanding infinity of mental freedom. My mind is able to fly with the wind and touch the outer edges of our universe. A gift I’m given each time my painted toes, touch the clear, cool water.
On some days, I can pretend it belongs to me. My own private beach. Even this morning in the sweltering heat – there was only one other person on the stretch of beach I sat upon, sunning myself after a swim.
The fishes I see and the jellyfish I spot – all bring a smile to my face. Even the seaweed washed up along the shore, has me questioning where, why and how. So much can turn up at one point, on a particular day.
Each season is different. Each tide, wind and force of nature, creates changes along the beaches I love to walk.
Where is your favourite spot?
I’d love to know your thoughts…