Beach Life

On Sunday we all fancied some fresh air and a little salt spray, so we made our way to Burton Bradstock - well wrapped, kite in hand and a fat flask of soup for lunch.

At home things had seemed quite mellow weather-wise - a small stiff breeze now and then and a definite nip in the air, but nothing a thick scarf wouldn't keep out. At the beach things were very different. Huge grey waves formed a great white crest a mile or so out and rushed towards land, gathering height as they came. When they found the beach they spilled madly up the sand, roughly churning up pebbles and driftwood with a great frothy tongue that lapped as far as it could and then slunk away again. Large gobs of foam lifted off the sand in gusts that blew relentlessly down to Portland, rolling like tumbleweed in the air, growing smaller with each turn until a dog or child jumped for them and then they were gone.

We sat in the car and steamed the windows up with pea soup and warm breath, stealing ourselves for the weather. No kite flying today then.

The sun was strong and low, dense winter sun that made us squint as we surveyed the sea. Every now and then a wave crashed in such a way that a huge cloud of spray leapt into the air, throwing rainbows and white water well above our heads. A fine salty film coated our cheeks, I could feel it as I smiled and squeezed my eyes tight to look into the sun. Nick found the whole thing a little too intense, having just completed months of deadlines, weekends and late nights. He crept back to the car for forty winks while Fin and I ran in and out of the frothing waves in our wellington boots.

The sea scared me a little. When Fin ran right down to the foot of a huge wave to grab something my heart gave a jump as I saw what might happen if he lost his footing. I didn't want to interfere with his fun too much so I asked him not to turn his back on the sea to avoid being surprised by a big wave. He took it to heart, running down to the water and then moonwalking awkwardly back at speed when a wave broke. I'm not sure which was better. Having forgotten to tuck anything into his wellies, his trousers were soon completely soaked in salty froth. He pointed at them and laughed. Doh!

The cliffs at Burton are soft and vertiginous. You never quite know when a lump of cliff might come rolling down the hill to land on the beach and yet people climb all over the things seemingly unawares. This area is known for a certain type of clay, Blue Lias, pale grey blue, sticky clay that forms long moving seams in the golden sand cliffs, with the odd Jurassic fossil hidden away for a lucky soul to find. With the rain that has been almost constant of late, lias clay was oozing invitingly at the foot of the cliffs, appearing even bluer than usual under deep yellow sandstone in the bright  sun. Fin was drawn instantly to its potential for muckiness, picking up some lumps that lay around. As he squeezed an apparently solid piece, it did that cornflour and water thing where it looks solid, but is in fact not. Durrr! We went back to the sea for a quick foam wash.

Next it was sticks. Every dog seemed to be carrying one and children were playing that game where you throw things into the sea and it brings them back to you - brilliant! Fin found a smallish piece of driftwood and carried it until he found a larger piece and so on. Each stick was thrown into the sea. Then he fancied some digging and found a vaguely spade shaped bit to make a hole with. Yes I do sometimes wonder if Fin actually is a dog. While he was contently digging a lovely black collie came running up to say hello.

'Hello!' said Fin, standing up for a moment to be friendly. Then the dog snatched his stick and ran off down the beach with it, head held high, laughing no doubt. Fin watched him go with slack shoulders and an open mouth, speechless for possibly the first time ever.

We decided that now was a good time to wake Nick and have a cup of tea in the beach cafe. As we sat down, the heavens opened and dirty clouds rolled in at speed. We watched it unfold, cradling our tea, licking salty lips and laughing at the crazy way the wind had styled our hair.

A quick trip to the farm shop for eggs and a surprise treat of local quail eggs and home.

What did you do this weekend? x x x