on living beside the sea

on living beside the sea

 I’ve lived on the coast most of my life and have always loved the sea. I went to University in Stirling, which is inland, and whenever I came home, the first thing I did was head for the shore. I remember a late evening, sitting at the ruined castle below scribbling in my journal, dark except for the castle floodlights. The time of day didn’t matter; I needed to be there.

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What I love most about the coast here is that it’s a mix of rocky shorelines and stretches of sandy beaches. In the town itself we’re lucky to have both a rocky beach and a sandy beach; I grew up five minutes from the rocky one, and now live less than a minute from the sandy one, so the shoreline has always been an integral part of my life. Whenever anything goes wrong in life, I head for the beach and I always feel better.

As children we would go paddling with shrimp nets and search for sand hoppers and crabs, build stone age-style houses and collect shells or pebbles. I loved the salty, fresh smell and the sound of crashing waves and mewling gulls. I loved how it was ever-changing. Wild and angry one day, calm and twinkling the next. A great metaphor for life, actually.

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I always longed to buy a house with a sea view, but they’re usually expensive, because understandably, loads of people want a sea view. I managed to find a compromise though; a house less than two minutes from the beach. Not the rocky shore in the castle shadows beside my parent’s house, but near the sandy beach with the Victorian esplanade and cliff walk, on the other side of the river. We played here as children too so I have many happy memories, plus its near the oldest part of the town, where I love wandering around, so buying a house here was perfect for me. I can see parts of the sea through the gaps in the houses if I look out the spare room window, and from my back door and bathroom window, I can hear the waves. I go for daily walks along the cliffs or on nice evenings I take a cup of tea and sit on one of the benches overlooking the beach.

But if the weather isn’t so good, all the better. Often if its wet and windy I’m one of only a few people daft enough to be out, and there’s few things in life more exhilarating than standing by the sea when the weather is wild; the spray and rain hitting my face and the wind taking my breath away, as I watch the gulls soar on the gusts or the waves crash off the rocks. I’m not sure its possible to feel more alive.

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The reason for this post is kind of a follow-on from my last post about living the boring life.  I may often feel that I’m missing out on things, but if I stop and think about things, a house by the sea was one of my biggest dreams, and I have it. Granted, anywhere in this town would be within half an hour of the sea but I wanted closer. I am almost as close as I can get, and every day I’m genuinely grateful for that. I might not live here forever, who knows? But still, here I am for now, and mostly it makes me happy.

So much of my writing is based by the sea, or includes the sea somewhere. Nothing inspires me quite like it. I love sitting on a bench along the clifftop, brainstorming short story ideas in my notebook. I’m almost always guaranteed to come up with something workable.

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I love any stretch of coast. Really I do. But nowhere quite touches my heart and soul the way that the view across Thurso Bay over the Pentland Firth to Orkney does. No matter how I feel, it buoys me every time. It feels so much like home.

Where do you feel most connected to yourself? Do you love being by the sea? 

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