Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Beach Days, Here and There

Yesterday was destructively windy in Vancouver (a tree knocked the balcony off someone's apartment!), but very refreshing here, cooling homes as it whipped up whitecaps on the water. It's probably stirred the cooler temps back to the top, but until yesterday, we've had several delicious swims. Pater generally waits until August to go in, but even he was coaxed in, and once in, stayed for a good long swim (he makes me nervous, swimming out to the edge of our little bay, where I worry he risks the propellers of some idiot's boat). The Pacific, above the 49th parallel, never becomes easy to enter, but depending what you're used to can be very pleasant (although the word "refreshing" gets used a bit too often!).

Our beach is rocky -- cobbled for fifteen or twenty feet, but then comprised of a sandstone base, not bad for feet were it not for barnacles. Beachcombers must also watch out for slippery patches of seaweed which have resulted in nasty spills, but with the tide out much of a summer day, the beach is a child's playground with tide pools to explore, small crabs to retrieve from their hiding places, rocks to turn over to see who's scuttled underneath.

But it's not easy for little ones to play in the water which, when it comes in does so in sometimes overwhelming waves. So when we heard that a neighbour was getting rid of this, we snapped it up in preparation for a certain granddaughter's visit next week.
After all, beaches come in many different forms. We walked by this Praya Fluvial (river beach) too early in the day for swimmers, but the sand was covered with towels and the water full of splashing swimmers when we drove through Ponte das Tres Entradas later in the day.

How pretty to swim in company with a gently-turning millAnd just downstream, proving that risk and youth are an international combination, daredevils jumped into the water from this bridge just as they do into the Cowichan River not so far from us back home.
While it's not surprising to find a beach in rural Portugal, we were surprised and amused by this one, smack in the heart of London. I've certainly seen sand-building before, with competitions a regular feature of summer festivals on Vancouver Island and in the BC Interior, particularly the Okanagan. But sand-building as busking, in a busy, busy, cosmopolitan city? That I hadn't seen. The creations were pretty simple -- an armchair or a couch in which to sit and heckle or cajole the crowd seemed most popular, no elaborate dragons here. But fun indeed! Nothing evokes the sense of "beach" like a sandpail and shovel, even if wielded by grown men with hats full of coins at their feet. And just a stone's throw from these sand masons was a full-on beach promenade-in-the-city with all the little tourist stalls, driftwood creations, ice cream stands

and whimsical faux architecture painted on what I imagine were old warehouses.
I've never been in Paris when the false beach is set up on the Seine in August, but now I know that London can offer me a beach and sunshine in June and July, maybe even January -- next time I'll bring my swimsuit!
After all, it's not that long ago, in terms of London's history, that its citizens did swim in the Thames, not far from this site -- In the Tate Britain, we saw a painting by William Hogarth depicting just that, only 150 years or so ago. No 19th century paintings of grown men building sand structures, though, more's the pity!
So what's on your agenda for the day? Any beaches?


  1. Wow I am impressed that Pater swims in the saltchuck!
    Invigorating to be sure.

    The windstorm was pretty wild here too...our corn blew over and Mr. HB had to prop it back up...hope it survives.

    The Thames is reported to be very clean theses days...I have heard that there are fish there now!

    That little pool will certainly put a smile on sweet little Nola's face.

  2. Oh, I'd love to have your access to a beach! Although you know I'm fine with a good pool too...

  3. HHR: We both swim in the saltchuck regularly, altho' Pater prefers to wait 'til August. Around here, our neighbours try to shame us into it -- in years past they would hold a Mother's Day swim, yes, that's right, swimming in MAY!!! and they try to keep it going in September. July and August are generally quite pleasant. I've swum here in June and it can be painfully bone-chilling.
    K-Line: We are v. lucky, I know -- it was the low-bank access (almost walk on, really) that enticed us into a new mortgage almost 20 years ago, and we've never regretted it). Some days, though, a pool would be lovely instead -- oh, for some heated water!

  4. I am hoping that you are going to have pictures of the girl in her pool!

  5. Although I love to swim in the sea, it has to be warm and toasty! Like bath water!! But I would be more than happy to dangle my toes in your sea.
    Have you seen the most recent Sherlock Holmes? When Robert Downey Jnr dives in we all recoiled in horror. Thank God you did not jump into the Thames, the water is not so pleasant, but it is the rip tides that will kill you. People forget it is tidal hence some of the sandy bits.

  6. lbr: I suspect I just might be camera-happy next week . . .
    Alison: Yes, we saw Sherlock Holmes, and no, I was not tempted at all to imitate that dive! And you do know you have a standing invitation to show up here and dangle your toes, don't you?

  7. Let's see, people don't swim in the Hudson, at least not up here, but we do have a pool. Ours was still quite cold until after the holiday weekend as the nights were in the 50s and my heater was down. But then of course Mother Nature stepped right up and heated us up. It was good timing for many happy hours were spent with a laughing shrieking 3 1/2 year old.


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