The beach has taken on a more end-of-season quality now. Deckchairs are still out, but jumpers are on. Children are still in shorts and a t-shirt and demanding ice-cream, but the rest of us have a coat to hand and are eyeing the hot drinks. Bertie loves it more this way, and I think I do too. It's more bracing. He can run and run without having to lie down and pant, and we can walk over miles of sand and enjoy mostly just the company of other dog owners and a few kite surfers.
The biggest boy is doing photography at school and had an assignment to take some images in the style of Martin Parr, so the beach was the perfect place. Lots of ice-cream stands and bucket and spade stalls and people doing the seaside things. It's a typical Victorian seaside resort; if you look beyond the seafront chippies and cheap bars there's a whisper of its former splendour to be seen, but on the whole anywhere on the front has been commercialised in some way. A couple of streets away there are rundown Victorian terraces, once grand, but now split into flats and bedsits. The occupants don't have the money for the upkeep of the grand buildings, so they are falling gently into dilapidation. Maybe one day they will be 'gentrified' again, such is the circle of things.
I like visiting the beach town. All life is there. The summer days are a raucous jumble of children and adults trying to control them and stalls and shops selling the horrible ubiquitous plastic rubbish. As night falls the atmosphere changes and the revellers take over. There are pimped up little cars making endless noisy circuits of the sea front, boys in tight tops with tattooed, suntanned skin, hanging around in tense groups, waiting for something to happen. Girls fluttering around the edges, short skirts, all the make-up, expectations high. You know how it is when night falls in the summer.
A couple of streets back from the front it's edgier in places. Dark corners and seedy bars, drugs deals and muttered half-conversations that only make sense to those in the know. Energy with nowhere else to go spilling out into a fight, drama created for the sake of creating drama, for something to do. Action, to give the night a purpose, to make a memory.
For some it attracts while for some it repels. Some just like to go and watch and take it all in. Life, and lots of it.