the Seaside

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I have always loved the seaside. I say seaside not beach because they are two very different things.Australia has the beach,England has the seaside. Most summers when I was young and we lived in the north of England, my parents would bundle my brother and myself into the car and, come rain or shine, transport us to a world of fun. Sometimes it was only an hour away to Cleethorpes or Skegness but there were the years, several of them, when we headed to the south coast.

The summer holiday was a time to relax, a time for family fun. Simple pleasures that meant so much. Sandcastles at the beach with little paper flags in their turrets, turrets made by packing wet sand into our plastic buckets and upending them on the castle. Boats fashioned out of sand by the men, my dad, my uncle and my grandfather, large enough for us to sit in and make believe. Skimming stones over the waves and collecting as many different shells as possible in our buckets. There always seemed so much to do. Visits to amusement arcades, fun fairs and boating lakes, rides on steam trains and donkeys, walks along the pier or over the rocks with their never ending array of minute life in the hidden pools. The parents seemed to enjoy it as much as the children did. They too shrieked with delight on their way down the helter skelter, dug with ceaseless energy to create sand sculptures and were overawed with the finds from the rock pools. They seemed to think nothing of walking miles to find just the shell that was missing from the collection or to stumble along the beach with ice creams dripping down their hands as a treat for the children.

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The sounds of the holiday makers were of fun times. There was the excited babble of the children, squeals of delight, laughter and the occasional raised voice of a parent admonishing a child who, once reprimanded, would be back at play, none the worse for the telling off. It wasn’t only the children who were having fun. The adults had thrown off the personas they carried around with them for eleven months of the year. Their annual summer holiday transformed them and endowed them with a carefree and easy going attitude. They would worry again when they returned home but for that short time they relaxed. The older generation also were not forgotten. Grandparents, younger than I am now, could be seen in their deckchairs overseeing the family group. They would be kept supplied with sandwiches and ice creams and the occasional bottle of stout. The grandfathers would sometimes be seen with their trousers rolled up and their handkerchiefs knotted on their heads paddling with the grandchildren or fossicking in the rock pools for crabs.

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It was a carefree time. A time to cherish. All too soon things changed, we grew up, we acquired responsibilities, we became adults. Expectations changed. Oh …. And technology got in the way.