Monday, June 20, 2005

Eastney Beach

Went walking on the beach at Eastney, one of my favourite places, something I do a lot. I have hesitated before to write about it because it is such a strangely beautiful place I feel I won’t be able to describe it adequately.

Past the pier at Southsea, along pas the boating lake, the miniature golf and the tourist cabins selling whirly windmills and candy floss, the land and the sea seem to flatten out. By the time you reach the Royal Marines Museum, when you turn towards the sea, the whole world seems stratified. There’s a wideness and an openness. The beach is just shingle, dotted here and there with vigorous clumps of sea-kale and other rough looking plants I can’t name (Derek Jarman would know them, I’m sure they all grew in his garden). The subtlety of colour is makes this beautiful: the pebbles are blue-grey and brown and stone; the plants are chalky green-grey and russet in their low-lying domes; the shingle gives way to the sea which tosses between steel, murky green, green-black and sometimes, when the sun catches it silver foil; then the vast, wide band of the sky which today was bright pastel blue.

It hard work walking on the shingle bank but the exertion and the inevitable pummelling wind are what makes this walk worthwhile. Those things and the sense of vastness allow the mind to empty and the physical strain becomes almost relaxing.

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