At The Beach

Across the sand sprawls
the narrow river from its
winding course to the sea.
Salt laden sea winds buffet
a cluster of cottages in the
shelter of ragged ageing
macrocarpa trees.

We enjoyed several summers
in the end one. Boards cracked
and warped by sun and wind
shed flakes of paint in every
wind blast, rust crumbs flew
from the corrugated iron roof.

Inside, chipped painted hardboard
lined the walls, chips peeled off
the linoleum’s hessian backing.
Above the kitchen bench shelves
held mismatched cups, glasses, plates.
Below the drawers held equally
worn cutlery and utensils.
Sagging beds and bunks with
thin battered pillows lay under
thin worn blankets and a
film of windblown sand.

At low tide we dug on the
beach for cockles*, at high tide
we caught small fish  from the dinghy.
We climbed trees, followed tracks
found caves under rocky overhangs.

At nights we slept soundly
to the sound of wind, waves
and the rattling of dusty sand.

*cockles: known in some countries as “clams”.

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At The Beach

8 thoughts on “At The Beach

  1. Cockles in Britain look a bit like snails with the small rounded shells. Clams, are different … in, guess what? Clamshells. Either way, a nice picture drawn with words. One hardly sees rolled linoleum any more? It’s all tiles. Our “hols” were somewhat similar. Two weeks of nothing but sand in everything. Cheers Jamie

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    1. Thanks Jamie. Cockles in New Zealand are bi-valves, not like snails. However we may have taken the Scottish usage of the word “cockles” from our very numerous Scottish ancestors who all arrived here in the second half of the nineteenth century. They do seem to have influenced our vocabulary a lot, and pronunciation to some extent. I found out a little while ago that some NZ pronunciations are similar to the Glasgow accent eg to non NZer’s our pronunciation of “fish” and “first” sound like “fush” and “fust”. This especially applies to Australians who had vast numbers of Londoners among their very early settlers.
      I do not think linoleum has been sold for years now, and only very elderly buildings still have it, like these cottages.

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  2. … schooled! Thank you ma’am!

    Yup Canada too, draws heavily on the Scots. My house prior to moving to the coast here. Had linoleum, upstairs. I pulled it up reveal a beautiful almost, new fir shiplap floor. Built in 1926, while small, it was a sturdy. small dwelling. Cheers Jamie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your appreciation. No, we used to stay at the old cottage while I was still at school. Once we were all at work over the summer we stopped going away together. As we “children” moved around the country to different jobs our family holidays changed to staying with other family members instead. I like to interact and comment when I like posts, I am sure it is an important part of blogging. Also I appreciate it when other people comment and like my posts too, so I know how much it helps.

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  3. You can still but linoleum in the UK —its a premium product now, top of the range! This is because proper linoleum is made of all natural ingredients (linseed oil is in there somewhere) and so is ‘sustainable’ . We considered it when re-fitting our kitchen a while back.

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