Thursday, 12 July 2018

Heatwave - Sand in My Shoes

"May you always have a Shell in your Pocket and Sand in your Shoes"

Following that destructive storm Hector, summer finally arrived – with an intensity we had not experienced for nearly a quarter of a century. The earth cracked and baked in the long hot days and whilst the forecast did not predict rain for weeks, a hosepipe ban was introduced. Keeping the garden and allotment watered was a time consuming process with only watering cans permitted.
As the temperature soared and city pavements sizzled in the scorching sun, turning my back upon the agonies of rush hour traffic, I succumbed to the allure of coastal breezes and found myself driving southwards

towards the Bay where in the distance Mountains sweep down to the sea and ancient dunes lead down to a wide sandy beach.

The sun beat down but with the roof of the car open, I felt cooled by the wind that ruffled my hair- now lightened naturally by the sun, (the sun-bleached look that years ago Laura and I would have tried to achieve through squeezing Lemon Juice on to our hair).
It was a while since I had driven this route and as I drove through the familiar scenery of the gentle rolling County Down countryside, the fields and hedges were vibrant against the bright blue of the sky.
Mount Panther appeared on the right – the decaying old mansion still standing after all these years amongst the tall trees on top of the hill. 

At the crest of a hill, the road dropped away 

and I caught sight of Dundrum Bay below on the left.

Leaving the car, (my white plimsolls already dusty with the fine sand)

 I set off on the boardwalk that led through the heath, 

wandering carefree through the sand dunes towards the beach. 

In front of me, on the horizon, the mountains were bathed in sunlight. 

I heard the chirp of grasshoppers and felt the warm, barely there breeze whisper against my skin.

The path wound through the dunes; gorse, heather, wildflowers 

and twisted windblown trees either side. Butterflies fluttered through the air, while larks soared overhead.

Leaving the path,  

I climbed up high into the dune. 

Reaching the top,

the tide was in

 and I saw the sea shimmering below me. 

I sat listening to the larks and grasshoppers, 

looking down at the sandy beach where the faint noise of children laughing and calling to each other floated upwards on the faint breeze. A dog barked excitedly as he darted in and out amongst the waves. 

The sea sparkled like diamonds as the hot sun glinted on the crest of far out rippling waves that curled rhythmically towards the beach. Birds circled and swirled around above the beach, at eye level with me, 

before they swooped steeply downwards to the waters edge.

After wending my way down towards the beach, where the tide had now turned,

I walked barefoot along towards the entrance to Dundrum Bay. 

The soft white sand burnt the soles of my feet, and the seawater, which although warmed by the sun, felt delightfully cooling as waves lapped at my ankles.

To my joy, the beach was surprisingly empty – most people choosing to congregate at the entrance where the boardwalk ends. 

However as the afternoon sun grew hotter, more visitors arrived and I decided to travel back around the coast to another of my favourite places, 

where wildflowers grow in lush meadows with rocky foreshores...

(to be continued in Part 2)


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