Beauty and the beach: Winterton-on-Sea, Norfolk

IMG_5333What is it that draws us to the sea; to the coast, the beach? On hot days in summer the answer is fairly obvious: to sunbathe, to swim, to cool off in the sea. Hot summer days are not such a common commodity these days – not in the British Isles anyway – but, whatever the weather brings, people tend to be drawn to the coast like moths to lanterns.

IMG_5307Perhaps it is part of an unwritten code of leisure etiquette, something that established itself in the British collective unconscious in Victorian times when those who could afford it caught trains to the newly developed resorts on the coast in order to take the air. The tradition persisted into the 20th century when, given more leisure time and improved public transport, the working classes too could enjoy the same privilege. Nowadays a trip to the coast is a commonplace activity: a Sunday outing, an hour or two spent strolling on the beach, exercising the dog, dragging the children away from the virtual Neverland of their electronic screens.

IMG_5294But maybe there is something that lies deeper? Some sort of atavistic compulsion to gaze at the sea, to see where we come from, from land masses beyond the horizon, from the primal sludge of the seabed. An urge look at the edge of things where seawater limns the shore and shapes our green island. We are, after all, an island race.

Or maybe that’s just me.

IMG_5312Either way, there is beauty on the beach. Sensuous ripples of sand adorned with calcium necklaces and bangles; the pure white glint of breaking waves. Serried ranks of breakers on the incoming tide, parallels of swell and surf creating a liquid stave for the ocean’s moonstruck music: swash and backwash, the gentle abrasion of pebbles, the faintest tinkle of dead bivalves.

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About East of Elveden

Hidden places, secret histories and unsung geography from the east of England and beyond
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3 Responses to Beauty and the beach: Winterton-on-Sea, Norfolk

  1. The Millers Tale says:

    Imagine the high windows in those Victorian mills and factories that must have taunted and beguiled the workers inside? Whenever I visit the resorts which lie at the end of the great railway lines which said Victorians also built, I think of them. I try to imagine what they must have thought as they gazed upon the edge-lands and the miles of water and sky that lapped. How cruel it must have felt to return to those factories and dusty cotton-mote air which choked and stifled. Poor sods.

    • Great comment – I’m not sure if most Victorian factory workers could even have afforded the rail fare. Seaside resorts like Cromer were for well-heeled middle classes when they started up. Most workers didn’t get outings to the seaside until post WWII.

  2. My wife and I vacation each year on Cape Cod, which is a 65 mile-long peninsula in Massachusetts USA. The eastern coastline of Cape Cod is a protected area – – no boardwalks or other development. Nothing but sky, sand cliff-backed beaches, and water (the Atlantic Ocean). To me, It is the best section of Cape Cod. My wife and I walk and walk, looking at the water, the clouds, . . . and often we fly a kite. Can’t beat it.,

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