Here on the Places blog, Howard has been asking work associates what the coast means to them. As the new Neptune intern, I thought it would be nice to round up the series with some of my own coastal memories.
Like many, my love of the coast stems from happy childhood memories. Reminiscing upon my first encounter with the sea, I find myself in the strange situation you often come across with childhood memories where you can’t quite be sure if you possess real memories of an event, or if you have fabricated some from stories you’ve been told, and pictures you’ve been shown. Previous blogs in this series have discussed the joy of simply being beside the sea and, appropriately for the final piece of the series, my earliest memory is of not wanting to leave! It was mid-winter and, I’m told, bitterly cold but at the time nothing was more important to me than the act of filling, emptying and refilling my bucket, or as I called it, “doing my job”.
I have often been reminded of the trouble I caused my parents as I refused to leave the beach that day and in recent years I have often recognised the same occurrence with other families visiting the coast. On holiday last month I overheard a little boy tell his parents, “I want to stay here the whole day long!” when faced with the prospect of leaving a Cornish beach for lunch.
At that age, the thing that consoled me when having to leave, was the little cluster of pebbles and shells in my pocket that had been carefully selected for being extra shiny or unusual in colour. I contemplated these on the way home and promised myself I would keep these forever as memories. Although taking stones and shells away from our coastline every time you visit cannot be condoned environmentally, 59% of people keep something in their home that they have brought back from the sea (National Trust Coastal Values Survey 2005). These little keepsakes are a testament to the power of the coast to evoke feelings that people want reminding of in their everyday lives.
As we draw this series to a close, I would love to hear comments from our blog readers on what the coast means to you. I can sit and read them and picture happy coastal moments and officially now say, I’m “doing my job.”