I’ve lived in London all my life, and I love the energy and variety of big cities. I have no desire to give it all up and live in the country. I get jumpy when we drive out of town and I can no longer get the internet on my phone (in my family, “I’m in the country” means there’s no 3G signal). Instead, when I want a change of pace and a change of scene, only one thing will do: being by the sea.
In Britain that’s surprisingly easy: wherever you are in the country, the coast is never more than 70 miles anyway. I’m spoiled for choice. From London I can go and find colourful beach huts;
head to Camber Sands for miles of deserted dunes;
or head to Aldeburgh, our favourite spot on the Suffolk coast, with its epic beach of stones that crunch underfoot, and the best fish and chips on earth.
All these are within two hours of home. We’ve also gone further afield, to the magical seascapes of Cornwall, and the desolate sand flats of Norfolk.
These places are all different, and I enjoy visiting them at different times of year and doing different things: champagne on the beach for my birthday in Aldeburgh, writing new year’s resolutions on the shore in Whitstable, or soaking up the summer sun at Camber Sands.
But being by the sea, all these places are also, in some way, the same. It’s hard to say exactly what’s so special about being on the coast. Perhaps it’s the soothing sound of the breakers; the constantly changing colour of the water, as the light plays on it; the smell of sea air (and seaside food); the fact that a seascape, whether wild or serene, is a timeless vista that looks the same as it did thousands of years ago; or just enjoying the simple pleasures of life among friends, our cares left behind in the city, at least until Monday morning.
All of these play a part, and there is also an undefinable magic to being on the edge, where two worlds meet. A weekend by the sea is a great way to recharge my creative and emotional batteries; failing that, a day will do, or even an afternoon. And when I return to the city I have my dreams of the sea to sustain and inspire me, in the form of my memories — and, of course, my photographs.
(These images were taken with my Contax 645 and Contax Aria on Portra 400).