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{04/01/2012}   Why do I like to be beside the seaside?

Most times I see the sea I sing “La Mer”, occasionally “Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside”.  As I live very near the sea, finding myself hum these songs on an almost daily basis has led me to question further my obsession with the sea.

My first foray with seaside living was two years ago for six months.  It was an interesting and half lovely house in a dream location: my back garden led directly onto the beach at Seasalter (near Whitstable).  The quickest (and of course nicest) way to walk into Whitstable was out my back door and along the beach.  The quickest way to walk to the best pub (Old Neptune, located on the beach) was along the beach. The best place to have a mug of tea was standing on the beach looking out to sea/the estuary.

I moved there to fulfill my obsession with living on a beach and to write.  I was there from October to May (I am a cold weather person so, no, I wasn’t disappointed to leave before summer).  I drank my tea and/or coffee most days on the beach, I had a beach walk, sit or sea-stare pretty much every day and if not outside, I could sit from either of my two living rooms (one ground floor, one first floor, but the middle floor one should really have been a bedroom) and look out to sea.  I was so happy living there I resented going out.  I only ever had the house for six months and I couldn’t have afforded it for longer.  It was my most prolific creative time, more craft than writing though.

I now live in an ordinary flat which merely has oblique sea views from one room and only in winter when the trees have no leaves!  I am about a three minute walk to a cliff top promenade (how grand and Victorian does that sound!) and a further five minute walk down a cliff path to the beach.  I often detour to walk along the prom and watch the sea. Here its’s proper sea rather than Whitstable’s tamer estuary.  While I see the sea most days, I might as well be living in London and visiting the seaside, to an extent.

I have realised that I need to be properly close to the sea where I live. I need to open the windows and hear it and smell it. It is not enough to live a few minutes from it. Ridiculous really and incredibly annoying because it’s far too expensive for me to live on the beach and near a train service to London.

I can sit and stare at the sea all day, it never bores me.  I have made most of my biggest decisions in life looking out to sea (at age 18 I went to Brighton and decided, as I looked out to sea, that I would take a job in Germany. Four years later, same place, I made a decision to go and work in Japan.  Relationship break ups have also been decided there. Brighton has in fact been a recurring place. Maybe I should live there one day).

What is it about the sea that makes you think?  A friend said the sea makes you melancholy.  Sometimes it does.  But like at Dungeness the other day, particularly if it’s windy, it really does feel like it blows away the cobwebs, giving you clarity.  It can’t just be the vastness of it because I get the same feeling at Whitstable where Sheppey and Essex are fairly close across the water.  I don’t feel a need to be in it or on it, I just want to be by the sea.  Is it that it’s constant?  Is there a degree of awe at its power?  Is the sound of it soothing?  Is it because it’s (superficially at least) unscathed and unconquerable by humans?  Does it have a kind of reset facility in our head in that it makes you focus on the sound, the relative monotony of the waves, it kind of cleans your mind and allows focus?  Sometimes it does make me feel melancholy, sometimes horribly so.  But sometimes it makes me feel a kind of childlike joy.  But usually it inspires me in some way.  The problem is that the moment passes by the time I get home.  Aha, so maybe that’s why I was more creative in Seasalter, I got the inspiration then could turn round and do it, rather than walking back home, etc, etc.

Today’s summary: I love the sea, it makes me either melancholy or creative but I need to live ON the beach for the creativity to be realised.  Groovy.  I need more money seems to be the answer again.  Grrrr.  Maybe I’ll investigate static caravan living?

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