You know how at this bleak time of year you start looking towards holidays and warmer climates to cheer yourself up? It also raises the ever-profound and polarising question… pool or sea? There are fundamentally two types of people in this world… the ones who embrace the sand between their toes and the ones who would rather it stayed well away from their skin and sandwiches…
I am not proud of this… but I harbour a secret prejudice against the anti-sanders. Surely they must be tense, finickity, clean-freaks? Sanitising the sandy world around them – I bet they also buy the leaf blowers too. An equally strange, nature-fighting, pointless phenomenon.
Nature was here first. The sand, sea and leaves are around us, because… well…. they are. Why not embrace them and enjoy the natural feeling of kicking leaves and soft, warm shores…
Of course, I am unfairly neglecting the opposing view… that the texture, the abundance and inconvenience of sand is sufficiently annoying to warrant avoiding it altogether… that it’s hard to relax on a sandy beach, due to those pesky little grains migrating to crevices uninvited and into a perfectly, pleasant picnic.
My protestations of sand being nature’s exfoliant falls flat on the ears of the ‘Anti-Sanders.’ We are who we are and as sensory beings have different thresholds on how irritated we are by prying particles.
I will always be pro-granule. For me, it’s satisfying, succumbing to the cushiony, shifting sand and moulding myself into it. The shaping of castles and scrawling messages on the shore. The simple, free pleasures of a beach with children is unapparelled. Coupled with the negative ions of the sea recharging our batteries, it’s a golden combination.
So, whilst we brave the rest of this frosty-February and dream of sunny, sandy days ahead – consider repositioning yourself in the debate… let your mind drift to happy days spent walking barefoot along the shoreline, not a sock in sight. Or maybe you need a beach hut to provide the perfect compromise between the seaside and home… a place to dust-off and eat, in relative sandlessness, but still breathe in the wild air. A perfect little bolthole by the beach… now that we can agree on.
It’s good to be back, writing about what I love, for no other reason than just because…
P.S. Why isn’t there a beach hut emoji? I want one *stamps foot.*
I am greeting this blog like a long-lost friend at a reunion this evening: I have reason to celebrate, but it also feels a bit odd and like my past has possibly come to bite me on the bum.
It has been a really long time since my last post on Beach Hut Blogger – as many of you know – I began The Happy Hire Company as a result of the musings and deliberations on this blog page, you could say one made way for the other and then the new brain-child took over. Much like with siblings, The Happy Hire Company grew and stole all of the attention, whilst, like a jealous older-child, this blog sulked in the corner for a while.
Indeed, The Happy Hire Company has soaked up all of my beach hut thought-time and left nothing over for this little page.
I confess, I also began to shy away from sharing thoughts about life in general as it can feel a bit odd and lead to a stunting of ‘real-life’ conversations. Nothing throws a spanner in quite like, “yeah I read it in your blog.” Whistles. I did also FEEL like a bit of a spanner at times, things I shared one day would make me cringe the next. We don’t stay the same, we grow and change and written word has an unforgiving permanence. Much like Facebook, once you have the bastard thing, there’s no getting rid of what you’ve put out there, even if you delete it, it comes back and remembers it ALL!
Anyway, the long and the short of it is: blogging’s a bit weird, narcissistic and unnatural at times – but I hadn’t fully given up on why I first started it…
I wanted to write. I lost the urge to write on the blog for a catharsis, as I found time to launch myself into writing fiction, for real, and privately. There is a deliciousness to writing without anyone to read it, judge or criticise or simply ‘not get it.’ I can be free and explorative and enjoy (slightly wanky statement alert) the art of it all. The purpose, eventually, when I am bold enough, will be to send it to a proper literary agent and publisher-type person. Right now, I am back to waffling on this blog – but for very good reason!
WE made the shortlist for the Top 10 beach huts of the year 2017! Our little Forget-Me-Not, that started this, has made the shortlist! It is a national competition by Towergate Insurance in conjunction with The Sunday Times -and I am really proud to have made the cut as there are so many beautiful beach huts around, with owners that have fantastic stories.
The stories are the first thing I skip to, whilst you might think it’s the bunting and bric-brac that catches my attention, it’s the people in the huts that fascinate me.
People buy beach huts for lots of reasons. Rest assured these are not for the faint- hearted. They are expensive and make no logical sense at all! They are essentially over-priced sheds located in the place most likely on the globe to erode a shed. They need maintenance EVERY year almost, and are effectively grown-up Wendy Houses! So, for someone to part with hard-earned cash for this slightly-bonkers purchase there has to be a special reason. Plus, some have been in families for generations and this tells a story in itself.
Our story is documented in this blog in one of my early posts. It is also briefly outlined in the competiton link.
Let me tell you some of the story that hasn’t been told.
Nobody can prepare you for a baby, and definitely not two, now, we had a beautiful first year with my gorgeous Grace…
– but I did not expect to be in surgery, twice, with a very small baby. Grace was born requiring plastic surgery on her hands and feet under general anaesthetic, so they could remodel them to fit her shoes and for her to be able to grab and handle objects as she grew. Nobody would ever know to look at her beautiful hands and feet now that a small team of plastic surgeons had sculpted those perfect little bones at just a few months old.
Any parent who has left their crying child with an anaesthetist and done that bleakest of walks back to the ward will tell you that it is a devastating feeling that you never truly recover from. Now, Grace had relatively minor surgery compared with the life-saving surgeries performed on a daily basis by our completely amazing NHS and believe me when I say I am grateful daily – indeed many people around us don’t even know she had surgery as I have never desired to make more of it than it was. But. When I look back on those first blog posts and think of the time we bought that beach hut, after her first year with us, I can see a correlation that I can only see now that I am having this reunion and like a picture on a jigsaw puzzle, it can only be viewed once the pieces start to fit together and it is formed.
I was recovering from a deep wound of my baby being handled and injected and medicated and left by me, albeit I did it for her own good, and we have had a very easy time compared to many, but I know why I bought that hut, why, as it says in that blurb for the competition that I may have, in part, ‘struggled to settle into family life.’ I know why it took me a really long time to settle my soul and feel an inner peace I had previously known. I needed a beach hut to escape to because it was a place that I could gather myself and reflect and be as near to the sea as I could possibly get. The healing, restorative, cleansing sea. I wrote of waves crashing and peace dripping in my first blog posts. I now look back and can see what I was seeking and can gladly can say I found it. But not at a beach hut. The beach hut helped. It was a boost. Truly though, nothing actually heals pain externally of ourselves. No car, house, holiday, book or guru would work. I had and still do try and find answers outside of myself and this doesn’t work. It may temporarily – but it doesn’t really. The answer, as the oh-so-wise ‘Moana of Disney’ says, is inside me – and I realised that ‘still, small voice’ was just a bit louder by the sea that’s all.
Now, I know, I can access that still, small voice anywhere I want and I can access peace in any circumstances… N.B except the school-run and when the kids argue, as they are the last bastions of hell as all mothers know.
As for the reunion. Well, it’s felt quite nice. Remembering the boost the beach hut gave us, how far we’ve come as a little family -and for me as an individual -how one little, blue beach hut and a tentative blog, gave rise to a new career- of sorts – and an income- of sorts -but most importantly finding what makes my heart actually sing, which is what I set out to do and have found, though this will most likely come back and bite me on the bum at the next reunion.
We really shouldn’t leave it so long!!
What’s inside that counts
View from bifold window
I’m on Walton time!
You can vote for our beach hut to win the competition and – if I do -I get to meet that smooth operator, Phil Spencer, from Location, Location,Location, so please nominate us by clicking this link below and voting for ‘Forget-me-Not’ beach hut Eastcliff Walton-on-the-Naze…
‘Inspiration’ is the word of the day. Where do we get it? Why do we get it? What is it exactly? How do I get more of it!? I got back to blogging this weekend, mainly because I saw these -above…
Beach huts in Bournemouth – recently decorated in Cath Kidston’s beautiful prints. I’m in love. Yes, it is an advertising stunt, yes, it is to shamelessly promote the brand, but, it just cannot be denied- they are so, so bleedin’ pretty, look at those perky rows of eye-catching colours and prints!!
Seriously, I held my breath when I saw them. Why though? I ask myself. I am a rational person (sort of) stirred by real-world events and important issues, nevertheless, a tiny wee nearly came out when I saw these huts- and a squeal formed at the back of my throat somewhere low and primal-as primal as anyone can be about polka-dots and florals anyway.
Excitement (of the wee inducing, squealing kind) is born of love and passion for things. I love beach huts (as is clear) but they are inspirational in a way I can’t fully explain-unhelpful- from she who writes said blog. Others things inspire in this (not fully explainable) way: old-fashioned/timeless photographs; new wool; a brand new book; a very old book; all things VWCampervan; vintage style (in the best sense of the word- not keen on the slightly depressing items that just smell a bit).
I am in good company. We all get the nudge, heart-flutter, lift, sigh, intake of breath, urge to run out and create/do something in some form or another. It’s a great place to be, on the verge of producing something, having just been inspired. It’s a legal-high and I believe it’s totally a spiritual thing . I used to ignore the things that made me feel this way, now I stop and give them more credit than simply being preferences.
… I don’t know about you but I also get really inspired by ‘before and afters’. Don’t you love it when you see an image on those DIY adverts of a dingy room -and then after – a light, fresh, airy oasis?! I love the improvement, the freshness of it all. Ever since I can remember I have been obsessed with transformations like this. To witness someone become the best they can be, watch an underdog achieve and have their turn to shine, these are powerful.
The downside is, I am, therefore, very frustrated by slow progress, I like transformations to be quick, complete and dramatic! My hut looks like this inside right now…
I am having to strongly resist getting discouraged. It is inevitable that things take time. I want to get to so many things and so many days just don’t contain the hours, or at least the non-comatosed ones. I also haven’t been myself lately either and I find my mood dictates how creative I can be. I didn’t know this until I started this blog. I just couldn’t find the ideas, inspiration or motivation. The verve needed to write, even a humble blog post, is something that has to just be there. I needed to find my inspiration and daily life was getting in the way, by that, I mean the grind of life, the dull things, like paying bills.
Nothing kills inspiration like the words, ‘direct-debit’.
Then there’s the more corrosive stuff like thinking negatively, becoming stuck in a way of thinking. ‘Inspiration’ comes along to invite you out of whatever mud you are stuck in. It is the creative’s best-friend and it cannot be engineered.
Inspiration works on your soul in the form of a random attack. Suddenly, something makes your heart leap, or fascinates you, or just grabs you by the collar and jerks you towards it.
Years ago, I visited the Van Gogh gallery in Amsterdam and understood for the first time what all the fuss was about, his life, his story and his paintings grabbed me. I was so, so moved, how he had been plagued with mental illness, when this was so misunderstood (still is) and produced paintings that spoke so loudly of beauty.
On the same trip, we toured Italy, and to be honest I almost became de-sensitised to the works of art that surrounded me. In Italy, you can be standing on an ancient, work of art and be waiting for a bus. We walked through endless corridors at the Vatican museum and began to switch off. Then we came to the Sistine Chapel. We were told that Michelangelo was almost blind while painting the ceiling – caused by spending so much time elevated inches from the dust above him. He was also being forced to work on it. He had run away many times, but having been commissioned to complete the work, he was made to continue. I couldn’t imagine where he found the ability to create something so exquisitely beautiful in those conditions. Perhaps he just poured his torment into the work like Van Gogh and so many others.
It isn’t just visual art, books do this. Most of us can remember a book that grabbed us and left its mark. For me, it was ‘To kill a Mockingbird’, I was very young and I was left humbled by the courage of Atticus Finch and outraged at the injustices in the world, new to my innocent self. I wasn’t the same after reading it. There have been many examples since. Harper Lee, however, found it very difficult to write and suffered great personal trials whilst writing and afterwards. Maybe we need some angst – it is the typical portrayal of the artist isn’t it?
So, it may be that I need to write even when I feel like burying my head. Crack on, to push through the mood barrier.
It may be necessary then to seek inspiration like a medicine for those times when I don’t feel up to pursuing anything much at all. A great song, a great book, or in my case today I simply came across these beach huts and it inspired me to get back to the hut and to my writing and to finish what I have started.
We all go through times of hardship, it is the cost of being human, but sometimes we go through times when there are no hardships to speak of- yet we are just not happy. Happiness, of course, is overrated- many believe contentment is far more prize-worthy. Personally, I think peace is the dark-horse creeping up on the inside. To me, peace is everything.
You can be in the middle of an emotional storm and if you can keep even a tiny sense of peace in that core of your being then you can weather it. When you don’t have peace everything is hard. I always think of the words of a W.B Yeats poem, “when peace comes dropping slow” . I can really relate to that line, many times, I have felt that lack of peace and it can be excruciating, drip, drip, in small droplets, like the agony of a leaking tap, when what you need is a gushing wave of it to cover you!
I needed waves.
I had recently had my second baby, perhaps it was my hormones, but I just couldn’t settle my heart. My head was o.k, I just knew my soul wasn’t right. There was one place I always went when I had that disturbance inside and it was the sea. I booked a long break at an old familiar seaside town from my childhood. I didn’t particularly want to go there exactly, but, then I came across this little beauty…
Oh how it spoke to my heart! I knew this was somewhere i wanted to be for a while. I couldn’t contain my excitement when I realised I could hire it and a caravan and it was only an hour up the road. I know some would find this strange…it is hardly Barbados and it definitely is a holiday ‘of old’ these days…but a simple, caravan holiday, a spit-away from the sea with a perfect little hut straight out of a Cath Kidston brochure really rocked my boat!
Then I saw the sign at the back of the hut, “by the sea all worries wash away” . That sealed the deal. I knew it was the tonic I needed.
I couldn’t wait to soak it all up. I didn’t care if it rained – alright I did a bit – but I just wanted to drink in that saltiness; take in the energy of that wild air and watch the crashing waves of the North Sea.
We made pancakes in the mornings, a tradition that has stayed with us whenever we have a lazy day of nothingness ahead of us. We fed birds from our caravan door and they came up to my little one’s highchair to feed; she squealed with joy- and the peace dripped. We went for long walks to get the baby to sleep and it dripped some more. We built castles and moats and channels and pretended we were deserted on islands and it dripped and dripped. We got a dingy and took it out to sea and laughed and screamed when we got splashed, then the baby fell asleep in the boat on my lap and we bobbed about near the shoreline. It dripped and dripped and poured and poured and soon we were awash with peaceful, joyous moments and finally relaxed into our lives as a new family.
We didn’t want it to end. So I went in search of a hut of our own. I asked around and rang numbers and discovered they cost a lot. Then we came across a wreck- at least to an untrained eye. To me, a keen spotter of something that is going to make my heart soar, this was a haven by the sea.
I envisaged a retreat where I would spend hours of quality time with diaries of ideas and (in my imagination) a typewriter.
In reality, I had to spend hours cleaning the thickest layer of grime I have ever seen and wire-wool a rusty old gas stove just to get a cuppa at the end of it- but what a cuppa!!!!
Look at that view!!!
To me, she was a beauty… sure, her interiors were, erm, rustic but that was and IS her charm… We intend on dressing her beautifully, it has been a long process, there were stairs to fix, stain to buy and rusty nails to deal with. This year though, it is the interior that will take the limelight and I cannot wait!! Below is the first time I went in, after picking up the keys, and recently… after painting!!!!!!!
There are many things in life to try us and none of us escape pain or a lack of peace, as I guess we won’t truly find this until we meet our maker, but, I have found if I concentrate on the things that make my heart do back-flips then I get a little closer to that peace.
Now can you see how this hut is begging for crochet??!!
More pics to follow, charting the journey of this neglected- but heavenly -hut!
Well, I didn’t think i’d be doing this! The thought of sharing my life with the world via a medium like blogging was (and still is) a little alien to me.
I am an 80s child. I grew up writing the old- fashioned way, diaries, and such like. Facebook was a glint in Mark Zuckerberg’s Dad’s eye. I remember the Sega Mastersystem my sister brought home was like something from ‘Brave New World’ and the old Atari was never dusted off again. Poor ‘Pong’. Yet, here I am. I am writing due to a series of events that led me to the point where I knew I wanted to share and develop my ideas, passions and interests with others and benefit from the fuzziness of collaboration. I am a team-player, but, like doing quite solitary things. So, I love to read novels, write fiction, crochet, create beautiful things for my home, bake, garden and generally create.
I also want to discover more about what makes my heart sing- a phrase I picked up from an inspirational speaker last year. The context being, if we are looking for the right path to take then a good place to start is with what makes the heart sing, in other words, the things that give us that lift, the fluttery, excited, noone get in my way “i’m doing this feeling”. Since I have had my two children I am way more aware of how to tap into things to make my heart float, as time for myself has become a premium, I don’t want to spend it zombied out in front of the box watching repeats or on ahem…Facebook. I want to make it count. I want room to find my creative paths.
Some of these glorious past-times are incredibly fulfilling, rewarding and relaxing, but, would be infinitely better if they could be shared and enjoyed with others. To me, the book-group concept is the perfect illustration of this. To get the pleasure of cutting off from the world with a great novel, taken off to another world in a calm, solitary blissfulness, yet, you can come back again and dissect it all with others who have been there too! That’s my ideal.
Indeed, i’ve decided 2015 is going to be ‘my year’. I have made some resolutions…1. Start a blog (da, da) 2. Write more (I am working on a number of stories for children but paradoxically having children makes it near on impossible to find the time to write anything for them) 3. Join a ‘good’ book group (i’ll tell you about my book group disasters later!) 4. Finish my first crochet blanket (fair-play to 2014 it brought crochet into my world). 5. Enjoy my time at our much desired, much coveted, picture-perfect, blue and white beach hut on the south-east coast. (I haven’t enjoyed it fully up to now, of which i’ll be telling you more about later too).
So, with one resolution now in the bag and feeling a little bit smug… i’ll leave you with a quote that sums up the reason for my new season… Do what you love. Do what makes your heart sing and never do it for the money. Go to work and spread joy -Marianne Williamson – ‘Return to Love’.