Sun beaches and walking beaches

I’ve just returned from a long and lovely holiday with my family. We sat in the sun in the Roman forum and felt the age old stone in against our backs, got lost in the maze of Venetian streets, stared amazed at the curves and swirls of architecture in Barcelona, and finally walked for hours on the cobbles of Paris streets. There were pasta and small, strong coffees, ripe and juicy tomatoes and melting pastries. We spent afternoons half asleep in the hot sun on the beach or watching the world go slowly by from the train windows. We were together as a family, and we loved the heat, the bustle, the history, the culture, the languages. I remembered how to speak French and pretended to know how to speak Spanish and muttered and gesticulated in Italian.
But now it’s over and we’re home. For a few days there I felt wrenched, as if I’d come from the centre of the world and landed, somehow, here on the west coast, a far flung land. The weather was cold. It rained.
But then slowly I remembered why I love it here. Today I took my dog down to the beach by Dallas Road where the fog closed the world in so there was no horizon. The water and air met in an invisible line, cocooning us on the beach. It was still, and the tide was low. The dog ran with a grin on his face, and I walked. The stones crunched beneath my feet and ahead of me a flock of sandpipers flew low, landing frequently, but always keeping a little ahead of me. There was a log on the beach that looked like a salmon with its skin slashed. A seal barked. And then I rememembered; it’s the stillness here that draws us. Or sometimes the wildness. And sometimes its the sun and sometimes the rain. Today it was being closed in on the beach, a good beach for walking, that made me happy to be home.

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