• The magic of the seaside 07 August 2017 | View comments

  • 07th August 2017 | By David Jolley

    Our seaside was Rhos on sea, with mum and dad or Aunt Annie, Aunt Hilda and Uncle George and grandad – Sometimes all of us. A pebbly beach, a sandy beach, work lines and shells: often raining and blowing but just a great place to be.

    I remember playing endlessly with a very small Dinky lorry. It had a red cabin and a cream painted tipper behind. That lorry is still with me in this study. We have shifted a lot of sand.

    There was the day I was sent down the beach to get a bucket of seawater to clean our toes before returning to socks and sandals. The bucket was tinny, shiny and had a picture of a pirate painted on the side. It was bigger than I was used to and when it filled with water and the returning tide sucked hard – small DJJ went with it and head over bottom into the water. Salt water in my mouth and up my nose – probably out of my ears. I thought my time had come!

    We had a pier with live shows which we went to on Thursday evening in a small ‘Runabout’ bus. The village still had trams which ran between Colwyn bay and Llandudno. Some were double decker and others just single. A single with no roof was called a ‘Toast Rack’ according to Annie. A toast Rack trip to Llandudno was a special treat, best if it was not raining.

    Mostly we stayed at ‘Auntie Dora’s’. Dora was not a real auntie, but affectionately adopted into the family: a friend who had lived beside the family in Ettingshall and had moved to Rhos to run a boarding house. We would be in a room right at the top of the house and would peep into the dining room where the regular residents would have their meals, or the sitting room where they read large newspapers for most of the rest of each day. Breakfasts were porridge and toast and tea. We were very comfortable and enjoyed the walk down the hill to the front. On the corner was a shop, still there now, which sold newspapers and toys. Grandad would take us down early to collect his paper and we would wonder about which toys would be good. Wondering, like dreaming, is free! The marvellous thing was, there was never any disappointment in those toys, because we never got to find out their weaknesses.

    My red and cream lorry is the only one I can remember we bought. And see how it has lasted!

    This week at Dementia Conversations, we are holding a Beach Party at Bowdon Vale. The idea came from Ros. People are really excited and making plans. We have sand and water and windmills and beach games. We have a special book and a box with seaside scents and a CD of seaside sounds. There is a small Punch and Judy cabin and a jigsaw and magic painting book.

    An ice cream man is booked for 2.30pm. 

    We will find some sort of deckchairs and we will find music such as is played at roundabouts and hoopla.

    Some people will dress for the beach. I shall roll my trousers up and have a knotted handkerchief tied over my balding had. This is for real.

    We look forward to some stories and, hopefully, the return of feelings which cling strongly to this very special place – a distance away and with the magic and excitement of earth washed by restless water under an open sky.

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