An evening walk on Swanage beach

A typical Swanage sunset

This morning at 6.30 a.m. the glow of early sunshine through the contrastingly dark branches of the trees behind the rectory, spoke of another new and glorious day ahead.  The good weather looks to be continuing, and (note to self) watering the runner beans and courgettes is still important.


At the end of last week, and after a busy few days and a Saturday of weddings in three out of the four churches , Helen and I took a walk along the beach in the late afternoon, on the eve of what was going to be another very full Sunday.  There were people in the sea, groups on the beach, and happy holiday-makers everywhere, as the shadows of the hills gradually pushed them towards the evening sunny areas.  


The sand has moved, south to north, as it does, exposing the rock beneath as we got beyond the groynes and the steps up the the Ballard Estate.  Head down, fossil-hunters searched the ground.  We picked up sea-glass which is maybe not as special, but just as lovely and, as one holds it in one’s hand, it seems to tell a story; a mystery tale of other lives.


The sun-bathers and swimmers were thinning out as we moved along, but still the odd bat and ball game was underway; maybe not quite as earnestly as at the Oval, but then again, the only ashes here are from barbecues and little camp fires on the sand.  Everything appears in a gentle glow on the warm sand.


Purposefully we strode towards a gap in the undergrowth behind the beach, and found the entrance to the rope path that took us up to the track above, from where, in the still sunshine of this September evening, we looked for blackberries in the hedges and chatted with walkers to and from town and downs.  Other pickers had been there before, but that is good, for each one prepares for another, as the berries ripen in turn and few are left to turn squidgy.  At one point we paused with the sun on our faces and the sound of the sea easing back and forth below us, the light on Ballard Down just perfect, and we were led to say to each other - “What a place to be gathering fruit from the hedgerow; what a day; it’s just perfect; the silence of the hillside contrasting with the breaking water far below us?”


Two pounds of berries in the pots and back down to the beach, we made our way to the town.  It was 6.00 p.m. and there were families - very happy families - loaded with enough equipment to have seen them through the day - trudging home.  Everyone was sun-kissed and looking ready to return for more relaxed fun in the morning.  Parties of youngsters were preparing for the evening ahead with food and drink to share.  We strode back to the rectory, glad to have seen it all.


John Mann