Advent Thought For The Day: 16

December 16th: Sea Air and Sunshine

Last night it blew a hoolie. I know because I had to go out in it to collect fish and chips for my guests so that their viewing of Strictly Come Dancing could proceed uninterrupted. I know because the garden was littered with wet, slippery leaves unceremoniously ripped from my plants, clogging drains and gutters. I know because rain water was driven inside though every nook and cranny. And yet we awoke this morning to clear skies and a calm seas, as if nothing had happened.

When I have visitors at The Watch House I go on long walks along the beach. I should do so more often, but I rarely seem to find the time. Something one learns when one lives by the sea is that it’s very easy to take it for granted, whereas when one visits it is a constant source of wonder and distraction. I often have to force myself to get out and appreciate what’s on my doorstep.

Unlike yesterday, when the temperature was almost freezing, today was warm enough to go walking without a coat. It seemed as if the whole town had emerged from their bunkers after the wild night before, glad to see the sun and stretch their legs. On the beach the sand had been blown completely smooth by the wind, except where little pebbles and shards of seashell had created shelter. Here the sand had been swept away from around them, leaving them standing proud. The low sun meant they cast miniature shadows across the beach. I have never seen anything quite like it. Elsewhere sand had blown up and polished the concrete promenade so that it shone like pewter. We spotted little egrets and grey herons feasting at the water’s edge, then four northern fulmars skirting the cliffs before resting just below the cliff edge. I have never seen any of these three birds in Broadstairs before, although perhaps I mistook them all for herring gulls at a distance. I really should pay more attention.

Sleep deprived and with my lungs full of sea air I have struggled to achieve a great deal this afternoon. I am, for once, taking it easy for a hour or so, writing this post propped on the sofa, enjoying the scent of Christmas tree and the twinkle of fairy lights. My guests are gone and the house has fallen silent, for the moment at least. Outside I can hear the wind gathering pace again. TFG.

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19 thoughts on “Advent Thought For The Day: 16

  1. Wonderful imagery! Where does the sand get its colour from? Has the beach always been where it is now (i.e., has the sea receded from, or claimed more of the land over time?). What is directly across the water from you? Who originally settled the area where you live? England has such an amazing layered history although I have only heard minute bits (my orphaned grandfather, George, and great grandmother, Annie came to Canada as children without families from England, and England’s stories feel deeply nested and alive in my heart). I wonder who first observed Christmas in England and what they did to mark it.

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    1. OK, lots of questions! Here you go:

      1) the rock here is white chalk, so I guess the sand is mainly made up of seashells rather than our local rock.

      2) the beach has always been here in living memory. Sea defences have prevented the soft cliffs eroding further. Occasionally we get a high tide that causes some damage at beach level.

      3) Belgium

      4) The Vikings arrived just south of here at Ebbsfleet, hence our main beach is called Viking Bay. Ebbsfleet is said to have been the site of three important arrivals in English history: Julius Caesar in 54BC built a 20 ha fort during his incursion, Hengist and Horsa in 449 AD, who led the English in their conquest of Britain; and Augustine of Canterbury in 597 AD, who converted the English to Christianity.

      5) Christmas was a pagan festival here before the arrival of Christianity. Holly, ivy and mistletoe are all from that era. Many of our traditions are German in origin, thanks to Prince Albert.

      Dan

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  2. I live in north Norfolk just a few miles from the sea. I agree we take it for granted but today, like you, we walked, admired and bird watched to our hearts content.

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  3. So beautifully written…and here, on the other side of the world, I could picture your beach scene in detail! Living only a mile from our local beach, I sometimes forget to go there to appreciate the wonder of it all. This coming week, I’m going to take a refreshing walk along the seashore!

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  4. Such a beautiful description of your beach, thank you ever so much, refreshing and cooling for another one from the other side of the world. You are bracing for winter storms, we for high 30s, so no great walks along the beach which is just a stone throw away from us, unless one goes at 4am. I will be watering my plants and baking during the night like a good baker to take advantage of lower temps.
    Merry Christmas Dan and all the best in the New Year.

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  5. I live smack dab in the middle of the USA. Land locked as it were. I thoroughly enjoyed your description of your walk on the beach. Each and ever time you talk about the sea you take me there. I enjoyed the history lesson too. I hope you get rested.

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  6. I had to drive back to Cornwall in that horrid weather – hate motorways with all the spray kicked up, makes driving a nightmare. And tomorrow more rain and gales are forecast! Winter may be mild, but I am very tired of all the wet! A beach walk is definitely on the cards, if possible.

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