dinsdag 31 mei 2016

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside!


I was about six years old when I first saw the sea.

Before that, the sea lived in the bottom drawer of a chest of drawers in my maternal grandparents’ attic room. More specifically, it lived inside a beautiful shiny conch shell. If you put it to your ear, you could hear the sound of waves crashing on the shore. Or at least, that’s what my grandfather told me. I never doubted his words, as the drawer also contained photographs of my grandparents taken at the seaside.  In them, they wore funny bathing costumes, even my grandfather did. They must date from late 1920s or early 1930s.


My grandmother (far left) and grandfather
The year I turned six, my parents bought their first car, a 2CV (Deux Chevaux), after which we started spending Sundays going on day trips all around the country. In we would pile: my dad and paternal grandfather in the front, and me squashed between my mum and grandmother in the back.

My paternal grandmother in front of our Deux Chevaux
That summer, we went for an overnight stay to the seaside. We arrived around midday and I remember it being warm and sunny and very crowded. I stayed at a hotel for the very first time and I remember being served half a grapefruit as a first course at lunch, which I didn't like. I have only vague memories of playing on the beach but what sticks in my mind was being told to be aware of jellyfish!


Strangely enough, I cannot find any pictures of that seaside holiday except for this one, which must have been taken by my mum, of my grandparents, my dad and me, picnicking in the dunes. I am wearing a striped towelling top, which was all the rage back then.

After that holiday, though, I don't remember any seaside visits until we first took the ferry from Ostend to Dover in 1976. 

Although I love all kinds of landscapes and natural features, I seem to be particularly drawn to the seaside, to which I keep returning again and again.



Here I am in St. Ives, in 1995, during my first summer holiday with Jos.



I love the sound of the crashing waves (which sounds exactly as they did in that conch shell) and seagulls' cries, ...








... and the sight of boats bobbing in harbours and marinas.

I like the salty smell of washed-up seaweed ...



... and walking along the shore when the tide is coming in, trying to keep one step ahead of the ever increasing waves.




I like walking along the beach, collecting shells and pebbles smoothed by centuries of tides ...


... and natural sculptures of driftwood bleached by the sun.


When I saw this amazing vintage seagull printed dress at Vintage Styling last year, it just had to be mine!



Over the years, I have collected quite a few seaside related brooches, like these boats and seagulls.


Last summer, I succumbed to this sailing boat patterned dress, which I saw in shop window in Cardigan while on holiday. It is from Seasalt and although I think it's lovely, it needs lots and lots of ironing, which is why it had been languishing in my ironing basket for months. I actually ironed it especially for this post.


In the bottom left picture you can see Colin the Crab, which we bought from the same shop, called Mundos, on Cardigan High Street.

I am going to finish this post with some photos of the colourful beach huts at De Panne, Belgium's most westerly seaside resort, near the French border. They never fail to cheer me up and I cannot resist taking photographs of them whenever we visit.


What about you? Do you like to be beside the seaside?

19 opmerkingen:

  1. We used to have a holiday home by the sea in Lytham St. Annes near Blackpool and spent many hours promenading and eating icecream. Sadly we sold it as we realised with work commitments it was better to have a nicer home that we could enjoy everyday. It was a good decision as we are country folk by heart.
    Your blog post today is wonderful, you've had me smiling, reminiscing and held captive by it.
    Thanks Ann, I have really enjoyed the insight into your family life.
    Lynn xxx
    ps. Isn't it funny how shells make that noise.

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comments, Lynn. I actually loved writing that post. I have so many family photos, especially from my late mum's side and I guess that most of them were in that bottom drawer with the conch shell. xxx

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  2. I too have a large conch shell hidden away that I would bring out to entertain my son when he was small. I bought it on a long ago visit to Florida. I miss the sea, landlocked in the centre of the US as I am now.

    Your collection of brooches is nothing short of amazing, and having such lovely seaside themed dresses must give you something to look forward to wearing when it seems winter will not end.

    Loved seeing your family photos. How miserably uncomfortable those old swimming togs must have been, knitted from wool!

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    1. It seems that the conch shell trick is a universal one. I had actually forgotton about it until I started writing this post. Now I'll be on the lookout for one of my own. I really understand you're missing the sea. We are lucky, really, only being an hour's drive away. xxx

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  3. I loved reading this, Ann! Wonderful family photos, too. I remember a big conch shell that sat on the side of my grandparents' bath and excitedly listening to the sea.
    My first beach holiday was Tenby in 1968 - my brother had just been born and I decided to do a runner from the hotel room, but I was scooped up by a fellow resident and returned back to my parents. My Dad nearly died of shock when he realised it was Geoff Hurst, who'd scored a hat trick and won the World Cup for England 2 years earlier.
    Love the seagull and sailing boat dresses, blue really suits you. Those beach huts are gorgeous. xxx

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    1. Thank you Vix, I loved writing it too. What a story about you being scooped up by Geoff Hurst! I actually love Tenby. Apart from the shells being from Tenby, the harbour photo was taken in Tenby as well. We did the round of the chazzas there last year. xxx

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  4. I love the seaside too and actually crave to be near the water quite often. I'll be heading down to Brighton in a month's time which I can wait for and will definitely have to spend some time on the beach.
    I love that Seasalt dress, that's gorgeous! The brooches are really cute too xx

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    1. I'm ashamed to admit that I've never been to Brighton. I'll be in Pembrokeshire in 3 weeks' time, so will have my share of beaches too. Here's to hoping the weather is fine for both of us. xxx

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  5. What a heartwarming, immensely lovely post and stroll down memory lane. I really feel like I got to know you better, dear Ann, and adored experiencing the sea - and some stellar vintage fashions inspired by it - via this delightful entry. Thank you for the virtual beach vacay! :)

    Many hugs & joyful start of June wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Thank you Jessica, you've really got me blushing now. I do love to take a stroll down memory lane from time to time. xxx

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  6. wonderful post - dear ann!
    i just want pack my beach bag and take the next train to the baltic sea - 500km up north!
    i like being beside the seaside - but i do not like crowded beaches! i´m a total snob :-)
    love your seaside themed dresses, esp. the sailboat one! supercute brooches!!
    xxxxxx

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    1. p.s.: 2CV has the nickname "ente" (duck) in germany :-)

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    2. Thanks Beate. I do prefer quiet beaches as well, or visiting the more popular ones slightly out of season. We too call a 2CV a "duck" (eendje) or sometimes a "goat" (geitje). xxx

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  7. Lovely post! I do like to be beside the seaside very much. I love the sights and smells and depending on the place the kitsch. I have pebbles and shells and all sort of bits that I bring back and out around the house. LOVE your seagull dress it looks amazing and I am quite fond of gulls even if they do steal your chips!xxx

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment. I have pebbles and shells around the house too. Oh, and of course: the kitsch. I quite forgot about that. xxx

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  8. I adore going to the beach and lucky enough to live with in an hours drive from each coast of my country. Yes New Zealand is small, two Islands in fact. Those striped huts are gorgeous.

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    1. We too are only about one hour's drive from the sea, but we only have a little bit of coast in Belgium, which is even smaller than New Zealand. xxx

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  9. I adore the sea too and I love this post! I really think the sea is a draw for vintage folks. I adore images like the ones you shared from the 20s and also 50s seaside imags. Your brooch collection is fab

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    1. I guess that you are right in that the sea is a draw for vintage folks and I am very fond of that picture of my grandparents at the seaside. I am a bit of a brooch fiend and vintage brooches are such a nice thing to collect. xxx

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