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The Beach

Sometimes I wish I took my laptop/camera everywhere I go. However this is not exactly feasible.

So this afternoon I made the decision that because the weather was so nice that I would stroll down to the beach a bit earlier than usual. I often go down there for the peace and tranquility but usually wait until the evening. So I strode down there around half five and then was not a hint of wind and it was just a perfect setting for a stroll.

As I got down to the beach I decided that I would go towards Southend instead of towards Shoebury for a change. The tide was well and truly out and the River Thames was as calm as a mill-pond. The sun was setting to the west and was just going down over Southend Pier as I made my way across the stones and along the sand. My iPod was busy playing music whilst I wended my way along the beach and there was hardly a soul in sight. A young couple were walking towards me with the dad holding the infant kid across his midriff. It looked beautiful.

As I passed them I saw a couple of young kids playing along the jetty. It reminded me of those carefree days. I’m told it is half-term this week (I guessed when I went into Southend at lunchtime to get my groceries). When you leave school and don’t live with nor have any kids of your own the school holidays become something that never crosses your mind. I don’t have many memories of just hanging around or discovering the great outdoors as a youngster. In a way I regret this. To my right there was another set of kids running along the sea wall – growing up can suck sometimes.

I got as far as the Ocean Beach Cafe which I decided would be my stopping off point. It was closed but that wasn’t the issue – there was a bench outside it on the beach. So I sat down and contemplated the world around me. The sky was clear except for one puff of heavy black smoke coming from one of the chimneys on Canvey Island. The poignancy of looking at a clear sky and then that one spot where mankind was pumping bad things into the atmosphere. It stuck out like a sore thumb.

The water was so still I could easily see the reflection of the four red lights on that chimney and the chimney itself on the water. It was getting darker and the lights across the river were starting to take effect. The lights were flickering majestically on both the reflection on the water and when looking directly at them.

To my left the darkness was starting to set in and the Pole Star was lighting up the dark sky. To my right the red glint of a sun going past the horizon was sky still kept some semblance of day up. As I looked ahead I saw what I can only describe as something a little bit bizarre. It was like a long bit of smoke – cigar-shaped – that cruised along the Thames maybe 25 foot above the water. I took my iPod out and there was no sound. However smoke wouldn’t travel like that. Very strange indeed.

Slowly the light started to fade and I decided it was time to start making a move. The kids on the jetty were long gone and the street lights were in full effect. As I meandered my way along the beach I saw some writing in the sand that I must have missed before ‘Matteo and Christina’ and then someone had used shells to spell out ‘Maya, Niky, Simca’ and had placed seaweed around the words in the shape of a heart. It warmed the cockles of the heart.

My iPod then decided to be clever and played Chesney Hawkes ‘I am the only and only’ as I made my lonely way along the sand only to follow it with the dulcet tones of Louis Armstrong and ‘What a wonderful world’. The lights of Thorpe Bay Tennis club were like a runway leading me back to home. As I made my way back to the tennis club and got to the steps to take me up from the beach to The Broadway I looked ruefully at the sea and thought to myself that it had been a very enjoyable couple of hours and that it only missed one thing. One day, One day… I thought.

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