Living in the Midlands, one of the things I most miss is being near the sea. Brought up in Kent, as a child I often went on family trips to Rye and Camber Sands in east Sussex.
To experience the beauty and vastness of the sea is a magical thing in childhood. I have continued to love the sea all my life.
This half term has been a wonderful opportunity to go to the sea! And I went to east Sussex again – Eastbourne, and the National Trust coastline at Birling Gap.
And I couldn’t resist taking photos – especially of one of my own personal images of paradise, an image that has the power to haunt your dreams and inspire the imagination – a silver sea, radiant in sunlight.
Here are a few views from our recent visit to Eastbourne.
Living as I do in the Midlands, I cannot help missing the seaside! There’s nothing like water – be it river, lake or sea – to make us feel open and free and to give us a fresh sense of perspective.
Now I’m back in Warwick I’m continuing to edit my new novel ‘A Passionate Spirit’ before it goes to be typeset. I have some sharp and perceptive comments from beta readers; their own perspective is invaluable, and I’m just about to go through the ms making changes according to their guidelines.
This editing work will be finished by the time we go to the Lake District at the beginning of August – and then there’ll be more opportunity for reflection among lakes and mountains.
I’ve written before in this blog about those sacred spaces which are known in Ancient Celtic terms as thin places.
These are places where you are led to believe that the veil between the visible and the invisible worlds is thin. They don’t have to be obviously religious places. In fact once I read of someone who had a religious experience whilst crossing London Bridge in the rush hour. For that person, London Bridge became a thin place.
A thin place may be any place where you have new or happy or inspirational thoughts. And one of my most popular topics on this blog is places I love.
But quite often, probably because our ability to tune into spiritual inspiration is hindered by stress, anxiety, tension and so on, our thin places are literally places of tranquillity where we can move apart from the preoccupations of our daily life.
Such a place for me, recently, was Holywell Retreat between Eastbourne and Beachy Head. I was there with a friend and my two teenage children just a few days ago.
The weather was mild and warm, the atmosphere still and hushed. A few people were around, but it wasn’t crowded. This was the end of the Easter holiday, and not yet the high season for tourism in Eastbourne. The sea washed over the stony beach. The white cliffs of Beachy Head were directly ahead of us.
A few people sat on benches watching the sea. It occurred to me that, had I not been planning to drive back to Warwick in a couple of hours, I could happily have stayed there all day in this dreamlike state, feeling the warmth on my skin, listening to the murmur of the sea against the pebbles on the beach, gazing at the white cliffs stretching out to the horizon.
Everything that might cause me anxiety melted away. And above all, I was present in the moment. So were my two children, as they wandered around the beach, and so too was my friend. I dare to believe that each one of us was living fully in the present, as you do in the space between sleeping and waking, when your dreams still linger with you.
Do you have a thin place? Or perhaps it is so special to you that you don’t want to reveal its location! Please share in the comments.
I recently visited Beachy Head, East Sussex, with a friend and my two teenage children.
As we walked along the cliftop, we all agreed: Where in the world could we go that’s more beautiful than this?
Beachy Head, together with the Seven Sisters Country Park and Birling Gap are all protected by The National Trust and they are a short drive out of Eastbourne on the south coast.
I was born and brought up in Kent, and it was only thirty five minutes drive from where we lived to the south coast. Camber Sands was a particular favourite, and we regularly visited and ran over the open dunes, usually going on afterwards to the lovely old fishing town Rye, with its evocative fifteenth century Mermaid Inn.
On every trip, I felt the excitement of that first view of the sea.
And now, I say to my own children, just as my father said to us: “who’ll be the first to catch a glimpse of the sea?”
Everything depends upon our own inner state, as we contemplate such landscapes, which can then become sacred spaces.
For me, standing on a cliff gazing out to sea is a thing of beauty, a joy for ever.