Friday, 12 June 2009

Devon when it drizzles

Into the Surf

June is a summer month in England, but not a holiday month. All over the country, students are hunched over their exams, grinding away at Common Entrance, GCSEs or A-levels. The beaches of Devon and Cornwall will be swamped by the end of July, but at the moment they are empty and still. The tide goes in and out, relentlessly, but the bubble and froth of boats and bathers is more intermittent -- if equally predictable.

was almost completely deserted when we visited it at the beginning of the week. Except for a few couples with babies, and the retired set, the town was nearly empty -- and the beach entirely so. Only the presence of carpenters and white transport vans, who were updating the shops for the upcoming retail season, created any buzz.

If the weather had been glorious, I'm sure people would have emerged -- like hermit crabs from their second-home shells. But in the cold drizzle, the children had no competition for places on the pier. High tide fell during tea-time, and clad in thick plastic macs, my daughter and her friend set traps for crabs. Tempted by bacon, the greedy crustaceons practically jumped into the nets. By the end of the summer, their ranks will thin . . . but on a rainy night, they were easy pickings.

Of course, the children threw their considerable haul back into the water. They fish for sport, not food. We prefer to get our seafood from the The Winking Prawn. On sunny evenings, you can sit outside and participate in a communal barbeque. But when the weather is dull, I want to eat my pink prawns and bacon-wrapped monkfish from a more comfortable indoor spot.

No matter how delicious the food and company, there is something terribly melancholy about the beach when it is shrouded in cloud. The children, more impervious to the weather, don't mind as much. For them, the ingredients remain the same: ice cream, and lots of it; a trip to Cranch's to buy rock and clotted cream fudge; a trip on the ferry and sea tractor; and crabbing, of course.

I can't help think, though, that the sun is the crucial alchemical ingredient: its magical properties turn lead into gold.


B said...

Strangely enough, I like beaches in bad weather (as well as in the sun, obviously!), I find them relaxing!

David Cranmer said...

The sun is like our philosopher's stone.

And my wife and I love rainy days and are experiencing one right now. Perfect for writing.

Beth said...

Perhaps as we get older, we tend to notice the cloud cover more – having experienced more “clouds” in our lives. We appreciate and need the warmth and light the sun provides…
Children? Blessedly, they can enjoy just about any weather.

But those rainy, drizzly days are always great for reading!

Elizabeth said...

Actually is sounds wonderful.
I'd take a bit of melancholy over hoards of tourist any day.

Chairman Bill said...

No, no. Sunny beaches are hideous - too many people.

Margaret Gosden said...

You bring back memories - this time of Salcombe where I spent 2 weeks at the Island Cruising Club (I think), sleeping on board and learning to sail by day. What a great picture and your words so very nostalgic and descriptive,

CashmereLibrarian said...

I've always wanted to visit Devon--mainly because Agatha Christie grew up there and she writes so lovingly about it.

ArtSparker said...

Devon, Lovely Devon
Where it rains eight days out of seven

---Anonymous Doggerel

Did I mention my sister lives in Exeter?

Seaside towns in the winter ARE great settings for stories of supernatural, though (I know it''s not Winter, just Winter-ish).

La Belette Rouge said...

I love rainy days at the coast. I tend to avoid the beach when it is warm but when there is a storm and it is raining I love to go and walk or sit in my car and watch the coast pound on the rocks. Le sigh!

Anne said...

I love the beach in all weather, but there's something particularly exhilarating to me about a windswept beach. Waves crashing on the beach and on the rocks, spray hitting you in the face and dampening your hair, I find it marvelous.

And it doesn't hurt that there are fewer people than when it's sunny!

♥ bfs~"Mimi" ♥ said...

I am with "B" your first commenter. I love a cloudy, drizzly beach day. For one, I'm allergic to the sun, odd to say for one who used to lie in the sun to tan! And a drizzly beach pretty much guarantees ample space. Love the photo!! So inviting a place!

Bee said...

B - Do you? A wet, gloomy beach has me looking for a tea shop.

David - Yes, I agree!
I like rainy days if I am planning on staying at home . . . or it my garden is parched.

Beth - an interesting thought. Yes, I think that I am more sensitive to that which dampens the spirits.

Elizabeth - My friend kept exclaiming over being able to drive and walk around without tremendous crowds!

Chairman Bill - I suppose it was one way of rationalizing bad weather.

Margaret - Except for higher house prices and a few posh shops, I don't think these places change very much. Nice for nostalgia . . .

CashmereLibrarian - When I go to the West Country, I ALWAYS feel that I would like to live there. So are you a big mystery fan, or just Agatha Christie's?

ArtSparker - Amusing doggerel! No, I didn't realize that your sister lives in Exeter. Do you ever visit?

La Belette Rouge - Oh, that is a charming image! Let me just add a flask of coffee, some chocolate, and a book.

Anne - There is a near consensus that a rainy day beach is best!

bfsMimi - Come to England! You will almost be guaranteed some rain!

Reya Mellicker said...

What a BEAUTIFUL post! Wow.

An overcast at the beach definitely creates a moody atmosphere, doesn't it?

You know my feelings about Brother Sun - when he hides behind the clouds too long, it is never good for me.

I love it that your kids "fish" - sounds more like they invite the crabs for a tasty snack of bacon before sending them back to the sea. Very cool.

Enjoy the calm before the holiday season of summer!

♥ Braja said...

You're right about the weather at the beach; it change the mood drastically. I loved the painting...

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Hi Bee -

Oh, I love the beach when you have it all to yourself. And I don't mind a few clouds at all. To be able to have both though - some clouds and then the warm sun streaming through and making the waves sparkle. That is the best!
Many thanks for your very kind comment. My blog friends just amaze me with their generosity. I am so greatful and appreciative.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend -

Rinkly Rimes said...

I once found damp deserted beaches very depressing. Here, in Oz, where we get such a lot of blazing sun (too much sometimes!) I love to go down to the beach on grey breezy days and enjoy the 'Englishness' of it all.

Delwyn said...

Hi Bee

Do your children have along holiday at this time of year?

I loved your seaside story...especially ending in a fishy lunch

Happy Days

Lisa said...

Ah, the sun. I crave it when it's cloudy for too many days, but I do love a good gloom once in a while.

And I just spent ten minutes at Cranch's website. You're not surprised, are you?

And off topic, apologies, but the Barn is looking so lovely with its gardens.

The Things We Carried said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Things We Carried said...

PS The beach you describe makes it easier to see how tales like Wuthering Heights were born.

The Things We Carried said...

You have such a lovely style of expressing your observations. It is a joy to read your eloquent posts.

Your post has given me a craving for English fish and chips. It was the sentence about getting your seafood from The Winking Prawn. I miss the way the English make their fish and chips

Bee said...

Reya - No matter how "romantic" the gloom is, and it can be, it does dampen my spirits. I envy people who aren't similarly affected!

Braja - Isn't it lovely? I bought several cards with his work on it. He's a Cornwall boy.

Catherine - That mix of clouds, with a sudden beam of sunlight, is the typical English summer's day!

Rinkly Rimes - I do think too much sun can be tiring. We rarely suffer from that affliction in Blighty, though.

Delwyn - My youngest daughter had a three day break after her exams. Neither child finishes school until July, though.

Lisa - I get nostalgic about English candy, too -- even though I didn't grow up eating it!

The Things We Carried - Thank you for your kind words. I HAD to eat fish and chips while we were there . . . also calamari, monkfish and prawns. We ate nothing BUT seafood in fact.

Lucy said...

I like out-of-season beaches, blustery winter ones, for walking, but when it's supposed to be sunny they are disappointing when it's grey. Even as a child I remember shivering and feeling rather miserable.

The seafood sounds good though!

julochka said...

the danes have perfected the art of going to the beach no matter the weather...there's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing, as they say...but i prefer a beach with sunshine as well.

but i'd like to try some of that clotted cream fudge, please. :-) that sounds like it could make up for the clouds...

Shauna said...

A beach in any weather is still a beach! What a lovely post. I enjoyed it immensely.

cipriano said...

Gorgeous photo.
I like walking beaches like this, finding those long seaweedy things and skipping rope with them!
[Is that disrespectful?]