Thursday, 4 April 2013

Left My Soul There Down By The Sea



When I need to unwind and relax I conjure up a picture in my mind.
I see myself relaxing on a beach, lying there in the warm sun as it rises or sets. Next to me is Mrs PM, holding my hand and leaning her head against my shoulder. The waves are gently lapping against shore.
The image at the start of this post was taken in Port Douglas, Australia on the morning of our arrival as the sun rose over the Coral Sea and, although it was almost eight years ago, I still see it every single day, both at work and at home.
Why?
Because the image is my background picture on my work laptop, my home laptop, my desktop and my Nexus 7.
When I feel the need to escape from the stresses of everyday life, I find that by staring at that image, I can momentarily immerse myself into the tranquillity of the memory invoked by the photograph.
Ultimately I would like to retire to the seaside, whether it be a cold and breezy British shore or a warm and relaxing southern European beach somewhere.
I’ve even strolled along the promenade at Blackpool on Boxing Day with a biting, icy wind blowing all of the cobwebs from my addled mind; the cold wind and the sound of waves crashing on the shore brings a clarity to my mind – and peace.
I am happiest when I am by the sea – but not in the sea.
I am quite happy to watch the waves, smell the sea air and let the wind carry me away to a restful place in my mind. The thought of stepping into the sea summons an altogether different feeling – one of fear.
I’m not such a scaredy cat that I won’t actually set foot in the water (although Australia is the exception on that front); I just don’t like the things in it.
First of all, I’m not a huge fan of sand. Some people love walking barefoot on the beach and letting the wet sand cling to their feet.
I hate it. Sand gets everywhere. I hate the feeling of it in between my toes and under my toenails. The feeling makes my teeth itch. When I walk on a beach I have to wear sandals and even though they protect me from most of the sand, I still find myself having to wash the sand off my feet as I leave.
And I have another confession, dear reader. I hate seaweed. I hate the feel of it and the look of it. It all stems from an episode in my childhood. I was around five years old and sitting watching television, safely in my own living room with my parents at my side.
Dr Who was on.
I loved Dr Who – I still do – but this particular story scared the shit out of me. It was called Fury From The Deep and basically featured monsters made out of seaweed that terrorised a North Sea gas refinery.


Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself standing in the sea in Brighton, screaming blue murder while standing in about five inches of sea water.
My dad rushed to my aid and asked what was wrong. I pointed down to my feet and he simply laughed – but saved me all the same. My legs had become entangled with seaweed and in my immature and childlike imagination, the seaweed monsters had come to get me.
Even now, when I swim in the sea, I find myself shuddering in utter disgust if seaweed touches me or drifts to the vicinity of where I am swimming.
I love waves as long as they are small. Big waves are bad.
On a holiday to San Sebastian in Spain, I decided to go for a swim. I noticed that the waves were pretty big but I thought I was a strong enough swimmer to cope with them. I waded out into the sea and started swimming away from the shore. The waves were getting quite big so I stopped swimming and decided to turn back. To my horror I found that I was out of my depth and my feet couldn’t quite touch the bottom.
I decided to tread water and let the waves carry me back ashore. It worked – sort of.
I was floating in the water and noticed a young woman about twenty feet ahead of me.

And then I saw it.

A huge wave was approaching fast.

The woman pushed herself up to try to ride the wave. She failed. It hit her full on and I saw her silhouette in the water as it washed over her and bowled her over completely. I saw feet where her head should have been and as the wave reared up in front of me like a giant leviathan, only one two thoughts entered my head:
        “I hope there isn’t any seaweed in that wave."
    “OH SHIT!!!!”
The wave hit me and I kind of lost track of time for a few seconds. All I remember is being overwhelmed by the sound of water smashing against my head. I had no sense of where I was and had no idea what had happened. I was like a marionette and powerless to fight back against the unknown forces assailing me.
When the ordeal was over, just a few seconds later, I found myself lying on the beach having been washed ashore. My swimming trunks had opted to give a few people a great view of my arse. Thankfully I was face down and I managed to pull up my trunks before too many people reeled back in horror.
Sadly that was when I realised my trunks were full of sand – and seaweed.
I staggered out of the water like a demented seaweed monster from Dr Who, much to the delight of my mates who had seen the entire thing from the comfort of their sunbeds.
The final horror of the sea are the creatures that live within. Billy Connolly once said that we are not ever supposed to be in the sea but are too stupid to take the hint; the hint being that creatures in the sea bite us, sting us and eat us.
I refused to go snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef because of box jellyfish, irukandji and sharks.
I have been snorkelling in Barbados and the Bahamas but on one occasion I almost added my contribution to existing marine excrement when a huge grey fish swan past me.
Of course it was just a harmless fish but to me, viewing it underwater and without my glasses, I thought it was Jaws ready to have Plastic Mancunian for lunch.
In conclusion, I want to be beside the seaside – not in the sea. My ultimate plan is to spend my time strolling by a beach somewhere in the world, watching the sun rise or set and enjoying the beauty and tranquillity of nature.
Here are a couple of relaxing songs that remind me of the peace, beauty and tranquillity of the sea.






And my dearest hope is that the writers of Fury From The Deep didn’t base the story on real life events.

12 comments:

Kath Lockett said...

PlasMan, Port Douglas is my favourite place and I hope to retire there with Love Chunks some day......

I'm not a fan of swimming in the sea either, but my fear of seaweed isn't as strong as yours. However, I've been unceremoniously dumped by too many big waves and ended up staggering back to shore with a sand- filled crotch that more than hinted at a potential 'well hung hermaphrodite' status......

drb said...

Ditto. Overcame seaweed fear by wearing full length wetsuits and booties. Boogieboarding is worth it.

No surfing for me though - JAWS!!!

Elephant's Child said...

I also would love to retire to live by the sea. Sadly, since my partner is NOT a fan, it is unlikely to be a happening thing.
And I loved snorkelling at the Barrier Reef. It almost drowned my mother who could not stop opening her mouth to exclaim at the wonders she saw. Which made the worse side of me laugh. After I had pulled her to safety.
Seaweed doesn't bother me (I eat it too) but I am with you about sand. It gets everywhere. Including where it shouldn't.

River said...

Being afraid of seaweed as you are, you're probably glad you don't live near the beach in Adelaide where we recently had several beaches completely covered in a massive seaweed "dump". Overnight, one beach was four feet deep in seaweed, from water to dunes, over the next couple of nights the same thing happened at other beaches. Front end loaders were being used to put the seaweed back into the water before it began to stink in the heat.

Jackie K said...

I agree PM - there's nothing as relaxing and tranquil as water. and nothing as scary as the sea!
My go-to calm image is the view of the sea in the caldera from Santorini.
Growing up in Australia, I didn't like the beach as it's all HEAT, SAND, SEAWEED and FLIES here. I only grew to love the beach when I was in Italy and Greece.
Now I like it here too, but my kids hate the sand and seaweed!

Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

Port Douglas is a great little place and I can definitely see the attraction. There's so much to do round there.

These days I'm not actually scared of seaweed - it just feels horrible.

:-)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi drb,

Yes - I've had fun boogieboarding in the Caribbean.

:-)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

Mrs PM comes from Blackpool so she loves the sea too.

Mrs PM also went snorkelling at the Barrier Reef - she doesn't know the meaning of the word "fear" that one.

:-)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

That sound absolutely terrible. The smell of fresh seaweed is bad enough.

:-)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Jackie,

Santorini is beautiful - I haven't been there but it is on my list of places to visit.

:-)

Cheers

PM

Big D said...

Seaweed does not alarm me but I'll tell you why I have no urge to go swimming in the sea.
I live near Portsmouth and all the ferries trundle past the beach on their way in.
All those people...all those toilets...where's it all going? No wonder the water is brown.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Big D,

Good point well made.

As you say - yet another reason not to venture into the sea - particularly in Portsmouth.

:-)

Cheers

PM