In some ways, 2013 has definitely been a year that I won’t be sorry to leave behind, and in other ways, it is a year I will never forget, for good reasons. I am trying to ‘put the year to bed’ as it were, and get on with making my plans for a wonderful 2014 – and today it felt like I had some cobwebs that needed blowing away.
So we wrapped up warm, got in the car, and took a short drive to Mersea Island, the place where we met in the summer of 2001. I checked the tide tables before we left, so I knew that the causeway would be clear to drive over. It feels quite magical, driving onto an island, somehow. The tide was far out, and the mud flats shimmered in the dazzlingly bright sunlight.
When we got out of the car, the wind whipped our breaths away, and I was glad we were bundled up so well. We managed to find what must surely be the cheapest car park in the country (20p for 2 hours!) and were only 2 minutes from the beach.
And what a hauntingly beautiful beach, and so very different to the beaches I have known of late. A small amount of gritty sand, and then muddy sand, positively peppered with shells. The beaches up at Aldeburgh and Thorpeness are all pebbles, so to see shells, and so many, was such a treat. There were tiny delicate shells, and craggy oyster shells, and many in between. It made me wish I had a copy of The Observer Book of the Sea and Seashore – I will have to look for one in the charity shops, or on amazon. The tide was out, and there were pathways of solid damp shell speckled sand leading out towards the water, like fingers. Every now and again, there were tiny rivulets of running water carving a path through the sand, running out to meet the sea. Only really, it isn’t the sea, it is the mouth of the River Blackwater. It is so vast though, you could easily mistake it for the sea.
We spotted foot prints of all sizes in the sand, along with dog prints, and hoof prints, and the tyre tracks of a push chair. Although there were a few people about, it was mostly very quiet, and it felt wonderful to walk along and breathe in the fresh air, and just be.
We got a cup of tea each to take away from a little seafront cafe, and walked along the beach in the other direction, past a line of colourful beach huts. They reminded me of Southwold, but more understated, the colours more pastel, as though they had faded over time, but graciously.
In the cafe we bought the tea from, I noticed that they served fish and chips on fish-shaped plates, which made me smile. Alas, it was too early for us to be hungry yet, having had a later breakfast, so we decided that fish and chips would have to wait for a future Mersea excursion.
2 hours of fresh air, walking on the beach, listening to the waves…and without the cost of petrol, under £2.50 for the two of us! It was worth much more than the money, and we returned home as the sun started to dip in the sky, feeling peaceful.
We hadn’t been back in years, and it was nice to revisit the place where we met. I didn’t dream that first weekend, when I went camping for a friend’s birthday party, that I would meet the man who was to become my husband, and that 12 years later we would be coming back, making plans for all the things we want to do when our baby arrives.