I have just returned from spending a weekend in Bristol! This vibrant port city on the west coast of England is famous for its rich history as a shipbuilding centre and its many engineering feats, and in more recent years for its art and music scene. I was mostly there to see my sister Melissa, who now lives there as part of her university education, but I did have a day to see some of the sights and sounds of Bristol.
On September the 7th, I set out on a little road-trip to the seaside town of Margate in Kent, just to the south-east of London. The weather was very warm and sunny for September (even though it’s still technically summer until around the 20th, when the autumn equinox kicks in), so it was perfect to spend a day out beside the seaside.
While on the way to Margate, we drove through Dagenham in far-east London and even rode the Dartford Crossing Bridge, also known as the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, which spans the Thames Estuary leading out into the North Sea. Entering Kent, the riverside factories gave way to emerald-green hills and forests, the light grey clouds dispersed to reveal a gloriously light blue sky with the shining hot sun, and I even got to catch a glimpse of some of the apple orchards which Kent is famous for.
Approaching Margate, the thin blue line of the sea slowly edged into our view – to my left I could see wind turbines jutting out of the water, spinning away to make green, renewable energy. The forest-green of the fields contrasted well with the sapphire-blue of the sea on the horizon, making for some beautiful land and seascapes. Once we’d entered Margate proper after breezing through the smaller towns of Birchington and Westgate, we were greeted with golden-yellow sands, the sparkly sea, and seagulls cawing loudly on the ocean floor at low tide.
When we set upon the beach itself, I found many small surprises hiding in the sand – like mussel shells, unusually-shaped rocks, and seashells with fascinating colours and patterns, like this strawberry seashell:
Making a space for ourselves on the shore and gearing up into my swimsuit and new goggles, I ran down the rippled golden sand dunes and dark green beds of jelly-like seaweed into the cool, blue sea. While it obviously felt cold at first due to the sun warming me up during the day, my body soon adjusted to the water, and it felt somewhat warm. Because there was almost no wind, the sea was barely making any waves – it just calmly pushed itself towards the sandy shore without knocking anybody down, including me. While I splashed about in the sea and went beachcombing for seashells and sea glass, my mind was running up with new ideas for the current story I’m writing, Life is a Beach, with Dartmouth and Jollimore from Secondary School by the Sea. It felt like the sea was pushing me and my imagination to work with its small waves.
In-between swimming in the cool, glittery sea, I rested upon the shore to eat my lunch and read a magazine. While I was munching on my chicken-and-bacon sandwiches, a horde of hungry seagulls began to gang up on me. They seemed to be anticipating me throwing them some pieces of bread with chicken and bacon at them, so when I’d eaten enough of the sandwiches and they’d been whittled down to bready stubs, I tossed the leftovers to the eager seagulls. Inevitably enough, they started squawking and pecking furiously at each other for the lion’s (or seagull’s) share of what was left of my sarnies, diving straight for their dinner like excited kids rushing for a pile of sweets from a burst piñata. As I always like to call them, seagulls are the pigeons of the sea – except they’re a lot louder and much sneakier, as I later saw another one trying to snatch something from someone else’s picnic spot!
Sadly, I couldn’t stay on the beach – or in Margate – for long, because of traffic worries on the way home. We stopped in a nearby café, where I had a chocolate brownie and fudge ice-cream with a bottle of ginger and lemongrass fizz, enjoying a view of the brilliant blue sparkling sea and the colourful Margate waterfront. The boats in the harbour were now floating on top of the water rather than lying on the ocean floor, because by now high tide had come in. Even the seagulls were floating upon the tiny waves.
Just before leaving for home in London, we went up on a viewpoint near to the café, where we enjoyed one last glimpse at the big blue sea in all its vast glory.
I left Margate feeling a little disappointed that I couldn’t stay longer, but happy that my big day out beside the seaside had filled my imagination up with brand-new ideas for Life is a Beach. It may just be my new favourite seaside town… after a certain place in Nova Scotia, of course.