You’ve probably never heard the song ‘Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside’ and it’s highly unlikely you’ll find it on iTunes any time soon, but it’s quintessentially British and sums up who I am when it comes to summer. I heart the beach – big time!
For me, summer is an experience for the senses. After we’ve been bundled up from the cold inside our houses and our big coats, it feels celebratory to shake it off and salute the sun, the sky and sea. I adore the feeling of warm sun and a cool breeze on my skin, the sound of the ocean, the sensation of sand between my toes as I walk through the waves. From the bleak midwinter, summer comes with a beauty so perfect it brings a sense of anticipation that anything is possible.
When I was little our annual holiday home was a tiny cottage called ‘Binsey’ in Cornwall that was owned by my Great Uncle Fred and Auntie Mae. I have the utmost respect for my amazing parents making a four hour (or was it eight hour?) journey with three small children, no air con and a constant wail of “Are we there yet?” But once we were there – what an adventure! We lived on the beach; surfing on wooden boards, eating peppery Cornish pasties and clambering on the rocks with our nets in one hand and buckets in the other looking for salty rock pools and the wondrous sea creatures they held within.
When I was five, we moved to glorious Sussex-by-the-sea. First, to historic Hastings, where my Dad would take us climbing on the cliffs and tell us stories about the great battle that took place there in 1066. We’d watch the glassblowers on the pier making colorful creations whilst eating hot donuts fresh from the pan.
Next, we moved to Elmer Sands, which couldn’t get more British seaside because we had a Butlins holiday camp in nearby Bognor Regis where hoards of Brits would flock year upon year to sit in deckchairs eating ice-creams and getting suburnt. Our house was so close to the beach I could see the sea from my bedroom window. We went to the beach every day after school and I even remember one day bringing a tray with a teapot, a jug of milk and cups for all the Mums and Dads after one of them said, they were, ‘Gagging for a cuppa’. Some days an ordinary walk on the beach could turn into an adventure when a trawler had become grounded or we found an unexploded WWII bomb that had washed in with the waves!
In 1999 I fell in love. Not with a person but with a place. It was the first time I visited the Spanish island of Ibiza. I have been lucky enough to work and travel all over the world but there is something quite magical about the island and it holds so many great memories for me from seeing the moon rise to many a sunset. In fact, in 2009, I ditched the city and moved there for the summer. A favorite memory that year was when I was steering a friend’s yacht (as you do!) and, as I looked out at the glittering ocean, I had the thought that this couldn’t be any more perfect. At that precise moment, five dolphins popped up out of the waves right by the side of the boat to say hello!
Still on my bucket (and spade?) list is the Maldives. In our host room, my screen saver/vision board is a stunning picture that appears every time I turn on my computer.
I’ve visited many places and many beaches but, wherever I am in the world, the sea brings both a sense of excitement and peace. The ocean can be as still as a mill-pond or a swirling all-consuming torrent. It is a reminder that nothing in life is constant apart from change.
Here’s just a small snapshot of snapshots from some of my seaside adventures that I’d like to share you with you:
Cornwall – the start of my love affair with the beach on one of our family holidays
Provence 2009 – this was a holiday with my parents and my grandmother we had a gorgeous villa up in the hills in the South of France. If I can’t be at the beach you’ll find me at a pool!
Cape Town 2011 – I shot an American commercial (yes, I can do other accents!) in Cape Town, and the whole trip was magical – from flying Club Class, scaling Table Mountain and even a Hollywood celebrity sitting feet away from me on the flight home!
Ko Chang 2012 – one of my BBFs lives in Bangkok in Thailand and when I went to visit in 2012 we caught a boat to the island of Ko Chang. I love this picture as it looks like it’s from a brochure – that’s how beautiful Thailand is – no filter required!
Croatia 2013 – Croatia has incredible sunsets and the Adriatic sea is like no other. A friend and I went to a festival there and it rained every day – apart from this one!
Ibiza 2013 – this is from a holiday with the girls. I procrastinated for ages about whether to pay extra for a room with a sea view but I was so glad I did. This was the view from our balcony. Pure bliss!
Brighton 2015 – Brighton is very near to where I grew up in Sussex and always has a place in my heart. This is the shell of the old pier that burned down in 2003. I took this photo last year when I working in Brighton for a few days.
I’d love to hear about your ocean adventures. If you could only go to one beach in the world for the rest of your life, where would you go and why? Which hot spots in the US would you recommend I visit? And what’s on your beach bucket list?