Beach Hut Boost!

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Our pale, blue haven “Forget-me-Not” 399 Eastcliff, Walton-on-the-Naze

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.

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Really not sure about the new addition…

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…

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Feeling very fortunate…

– 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.

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No problem with these jazz hands – and feet!

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!!

 

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…

https://www.towergateinsurance.co.uk/home-and-property-insurance/beach-hut-of-the-year 

 

 

 

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Our views are our own…

We went to Alexandra Palace at the weekend to a self-build home show.  We have toyed with a dream (you know how I like those heart-singing ideas) of building our own house.  Not with our own fair hands of course – we can’t finish a 12×8 beach hut – no, this would be a professional job and our family home.

For those of you who know North London and ‘Ally Pally’, as it is affectionately known, will know there is a VERY steep hill leading up to the entrance.  We were compelled to climb this Everest, behind a panting jogger with very reluctant, fat, Labrador, in order to reap our reward of some free cadbury’s chocolate; a bunch of self-build leaflets and a DIY voucher, with lots of small print.

When we did actually reach the top and looked out across London – we were met with a bracing view.  It was vast and far-reaching, deep and long.  Grey blocks, towers and landmarks imagereached as far as the eye could see, a beautiful vista.  It made me think of other views throughout my life, so far, that have taken my breath away: the top of Mount Sinai in Egypt, a black sky pricked with stars and silouhettes of camels dotted along the devastating edges; the foggy haze of the Hong Kong skyline, oppressive, grand and confusing; the refreshing and exhilarating beauty of the glassy lakes, mountains and waterfalls of the Glengariff road to Killarney or the blinding, aqua-blue, sereneness of the Maldives.  I am privileged (and am in debt) due to the views I have taken in.

As with many of these other views I had that moment where you just can’t take it on board.  Have you had this when looking at a view?  It’s as if you look, are amazed and theimagen can’t appreciate it, it’s too big to digest.  You pause and can’t quite fathom what you are seeing, then become desensitised to it very imagequickly.  We could make out the whole of London from our vantage point –  the edge of the dome, Canary-Wharf blinking in the clouds, and it seemed unreal.  We were looking at it but we weren’t really.  Views are spectacular for messing with our minds and stopping us for a moment.

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I read, ‘A Room with a View’ when I was at college and, apart from the descriptions of Italy, I hated it.  The female protagonist Lucy was wet and uninteresting to me.  I like ‘gumption’ as they say in ‘The Holiday’.  What I do remember about this distant A-level text was the symbolism of rooms and views.  You were either a ‘room’ or a ‘view’.  A commimageent onimage your outlook on life.  It was implied, though not confirmed, that views were better than rooms.  Or so my 18 year old self took it to mean.  I wanted to be a ‘view’ kind of person.  I knew they were the exploring, outgoing, life- embracing characters and I wanted to experience all that life had to offer and still do.

The thing is though, as good as some views are you have to change them every now and then.  You get used to the view and, like at Alexandra Palace, you grow used to its effect.

Also, now I am a little older,  I can appreciate the ‘room’ characters a little more.  I am looking forward to watching my children experience the view, for example, and they do not need me getting in their way.

I don’t need to be constantly exploring anymore. I like life in it’s more peaceful state. I am a little less headstrong and get a little less disappointed when IMG_1464big plans don’t come off.

Every now and then I get a grand scheme going and get quite far… “I’m going to be a business entrepreneur” or “build a house from the ground up”, undaunted, I pursue it and learn all there is to know and sometimes plans come off and sometimes they don’t. Usually, I decide that I don’t want to do it anymore or sometimes it falls through.  At 18 I would have been far more childish and wallowed in pity that it wouldn’t happen for me, now, I may nurse a wound for a day or two but then I conclude, ‘ah it wasn’t meant to be hey’.  I don’t feel the disappointment as keenly and this is probably because my world view has changed.

You can’t be up-in-arms over planning permission when you watch the news and see others suffering so badly.  I still let myself feel.  I don’t say I shouldn’t be disappointed or sad or have frivolous plans, but I can get them in perspective, they are only plans and plans- like views -can be changed.

We met some very interesting people at the self-build exhibition.  Those who have done it; those who would like to; those selling their services, of course, and also those people who love to have an opportunity to point out to others that their ideas and plans won’t work.  Sometimes, they are right, but sometimes they just want you to take on their view of things.  So, for example, a stone-bathroom, salesperson, who we simply asked a question of, proceeded to tell us we were mad and implied on lots of levels how we couldn’t possibly build a house and tried to quiz us to prove his point.  Clearly, we didn’t linger long and will not be buying bathroom tiles from him in a rush, but, it dented our vision for a moment, spoiled our view.  We could have let it bother us and let his comments feed into the inevitable doubt you feel when trying something big but we were in good spirits and so brushed it off and pressed on, regardless of the stone salesman’s ‘stoney’ heart (sorry).

So, now we are about to start drawing up some plans and it may or may not come off and we may or may not have to change them, a lot.  We may have to ditch the whole idea and change our views -in both senses of the wimageord.  It doesn’t matter though, as long as we are trying to stay true to our own ambitions and not wavering to suit other peoples’ plans and views.  As long as we are making the effort to find our own views on the world and are open to changing the view when needed, that is what counts.

“I am a big girl now”,  my little daughter keeps saying, to assert her independence, and I know what she means.

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