The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Life's a beach

The other day Maggie and I went down to the beach for lunch. There was a brief respite in the rain, so we wrapped up warm, put some soup in a flask and drove about 10 miles down to Rascarrel Bay. With all the vile weather we’ve been having of late, it was good to be out of the house for a while.

There was still enough wind to create a few waves and I was reminded of being a child when to go to the beach was to go for a swim. Although I was in no way tempted to go leaping in there and then, it was easy to recall the sensation of diving into the waves, just as they were about to break, or wading out until I was neck-deep and when the waves came along they would lift me up, so that for a moment or two my feet weren’t touching the sand underneath.

When I mentioned to Maggie that whenever I was by the sea part of me just wanted to strip off and leap in, the look she gave me was one of disbelief tinged with horror. It was another of those moments of cultural difference.

You would think with us both speaking the same language, using the same currency and living with the same fallout of the inept decisions of successive UK governments, that the Scots and the Southern English would be more or less the same people, but you would be mistaken. It is not just a difference between Celtic and Anglo-Saxon bloodlines, the sense of whether you are the oppressor or the oppressed, nor whether you have a fondness for tartan; the geography plays a huge part too.

Not only does it tend to be wetter and colder, for a longer proportion of the year in Scotland, but the sea is considerably cooler too. Inhabitants of this half of the British Isles just do not have swimming in the sea as a part of their collective childhood experience. Paddling, maybe, in the height of a heat wave, but no self respecting Scot would dream of going any further than knee deep.

I may have lived in Scotland for over 17 years, but there are times when it’s not just my accent that gives me away as a foreigner.


Jeff said...


Great post! I lived in the UK for 4 years and will look forward to reading your posts now that I have found your blog and see we have Down syndrome in common.

I look forward to hearing more stories.

Dr Maroon said...

Maggie was right, to go into the sea in Scotland means you will be both wet and miserable, it's the Solway not Montego Bay.

Kim Ayres said...

Jeff - welcome to my ramblings and thanks for taking the time to comment. I've been over to your site and look forward to seeing how it develops.

Dr Maroon - And with Sellafield just across the water, I would probably end up glowing in the dark too.

Belovedlife said...

My husband and I grew up 25 minutes away from each other and yet it seems like worlds'd be surprised how many differances you'll find between individuals...Isn;t that what makes our marriages so interesting (ie never a dull moment)

BStrong said...

I love the ocean and enjoy going to the beach and hitting the waves. When I'm in the water I feel the energy of something so magnificent and at the same time realize how small we are in the universe.

Kim, we have a new groupie on board.


Naomi said...

I'm a Geordie by birth and we'd often go swimming in the North Sea, even in the winter. The mere thought of it now makes me get goosebumps and long for a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate.

Gyrobo said...

I used to go to the ocean as a child. I remember jellyfish... digging a huge hole in the sand... and the taste of saltwater. All things considered, I love living near the mountains.

Scotland sounds like a fun (if damp) place to be. I heard you shouldn't make eye contact with anyone at bus stations- is that true?

Kim Ayres said...

Belovedlife - it is the diversity in people and cultures that I love so much.

Bstrong - you might want to rephrase that. I guess you're referring to Jeff, in which case "fellow dad" or some such phrase might be better than "groupie", which gives an entirely different impression ;)

Naomi - Aye, well, Geordies were always a bit of a breed apart, but I think I'm with you on the hot chocolate.

Gyrobo - I've not heard about the eye contact thing. I guess it all depends on whether you want to avoid getting into conversation with anyone.

Natalia said...

I am all about embracing the differences.


Gyrobo said...

Conversations with strangers can be very fun. Isn't that how everyone here met?

Which leads me to wonder: is anyone on the blogosphere actually enemies? I've never seen a prolonged blogged conversation between two people who hate each other. I should write an article about it.

Belly said...


What a lovely post to return to. I live right on the ocean and cannot imagine ever being away from it. My ocean is cold and wild but when you live here you learn to love it! I have had many broken toes in my life from swimming and not being able to fell my feet crashing on the rocks.

Hope all is well, take care!

Kim Ayres said...

Natalia - even people without swimming pools? ;)

Gyrobo - I've seen plenty of flame wars on the web and blogosphere by people who seem to despise each other even though they have never met. However, you're right about getting to know strangers through blogging. There are only about 3 people who comment on my blog who I've met in the physical world.

Belly - good to see you being able to post comments again. How far North do you live?

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

And in the Windies, we're all one yet the differences come out in accents and, like you say, in other little ways.

The sea in other parts of the Windies is blue and green and pure. Here, in my neck of the woods, it is brown because the Amazon washes down into the Atlantic.

Kim Ayres said...

Neena - I'm glad that's the reason it's brown...

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