Sand Dunes

One of my favourite places for winter walking is Camber Sands.

Winter is the season for texture. I suspend my obsession for colour, and appreciate instead the tactile qualities of plants and surfaces. The sea grass and sand give me my texture fix.

We had parked up in Rye and walked across the marshes and down the harbour mouth. It was the highest tide I remember seeing.

Because the normally endless beach was so narrow, there was a continuous line of walkers. It looked like they had been washed up with the tide, along with the usual flotsam and jetsam.

It always pleases me how you get clearly delineated areas of seaweed, shells, stones and sand. I am a natural sorter.

Like in the garden, the sensory pleasures are endless at the beach. You can enjoy the horizontal lines of sky, sea, surf.

Or the sweeping curves of the shoreline.

The softly fizzling waves, and the glistening shells.

The sound of the waves is regular as someone breathing whilst asleep: it varies enough so as never to become monotonous.

Pebbles and shells know how to arrange themselves. They have perfect spacing.

Every step leads to a new piece of art.

Whilst Stevie and I shared a moment on the beach, the girls headed up to the sand dunes. Every time they saw me pointing a camera at them, the adopted a comedy pose.

The sky was enormous.

We started searching the dunes for the perfect spot to eat our sandwiches.

Allowing me to enjoy the sweeping curves of sand and grasses.

Even the aeroplane trails arranged themselves artfully.

It is often windy at Camber, but today it was calm, and we could feel the warmth of the winter sun as we sat and munched.

Ah. This moment.

Right here, right now, with these clouds across the sky.

The girls scampered off over the dunes again, and I trailed behind to take photos. Stevie drifted back to the beach.

Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems impossible for a grown person to hurt themselves when bouncing on sand dunes. You can run down the steepest slopes, or just fling yourself off a precipice and you will always land on your feet, rather like a cat.

This is great fun for a forty-four year old woman.

I enjoyed this for a while, and then realised I was quite far behind the others.

I launched myself down the sand-dunes, back to the beach, bounding with the grace of a leaping gazelle.

I was just replacing the lens cap on my camera, and skipping along quite happily, trying to catch up with the rest of the family, when my foot caught a stone. I managed a quite spectacular face-plant in the sand.

If you are in company and you face-plant, everyone can enjoy it. If you are on your own and you face-plant, you have to spring up quickly, as if you meant to do that, as if it was just part of your normal skipping pattern.

I think I carried it off.

Until someone called out from behind me to tell me I had dropped my water bottle. He handed it over with a little smirk.

Having regained my poise, I spotted the others. They dusted the sand from my face.

We spotted a seal just after I took this photo (I had just put my camera away and didn’t want to try my family’s patience by fishing it out again). The seal’s head was like a shiny wet pebble, easy to miss. It seemed happy to be carried along by the outflowing tide. And then it disappeared, under the surface again, not to be seen again.

It was a lovely way to end our walk.

The Mindful Gardener is taking a rest from hard work in January. There might be a little bit of pruning, but mostly staring at frost patterns and looking for snowdrops.

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42 Comments Add yours

  1. croftgarden says:

    I enjoyed the walk along the beach with you. It is wonderful that a walk by the sea can realise the inner child, even at a venerable 44! Perhaos when the weather improves I’ll share one of my beach walks with you.

    1. I would love to see your beach! I would imagine that you have an intensely personal relationship with your beach. We only visit Camber a few times a year, and it is different every time. I would love to see it at sunrise and sunset, and when the weather is moody.

  2. Never mind the water bottle – at least you jumped up quickly

    1. Yes! I did spring up as quickly as I splatted!

  3. Heyjude says:

    No running down sand dunes for me! I would definitely land on my face! Actually I am not even certain I can run on the flat now. When the suspension goes it is pretty painful to do anything that impacts on the body! I still have to do a beach walk this year and it is almost the end of January – maybe this week I will squeeze one in as winter is definitely a good time for a quiet walk.

    1. That is me on hard surfaces, Jude – I don’t feel my cogs can take the impact! Enjoy your walk, and I look forward to some photos!

  4. Beautiful photos Ali. Looks like a lovely relaxing fall.
    I know how much you love color , and this time of year, there isn’t much, so I’m sending you a link to a very colorful commercial we have here for the iphone:
    Every time I see it, it reminds me of you. I hope it brightens your winter day.

    1. Oh yes! Definitely love that! I found myself wondering if they had varied each colour just a little bit, and no sooner had I wondered than I saw they had! Thank you for sharing, Cindy!

  5. 44 years young and playing in the sand….love it! My total experience with your country is lots of time in London, a bit of time in a small village near Leeds Castle and a visit to Oxford. This scenery did not register as English for me, so it was an especially fun post. OMG…I love best “I am a natural sorter.” You can write, girl!

    1. Kent constantly astonishes me with its variety of landscapes. We are very rural, with twisty overgrown lanes, but then if we head out towards the coast it is reclaimed salt marsh, and sandy beaches. Thank you so much for appreciating my writing style, Michele. It means a lot to me.

      1. I very much appreciate your writing style and I’m inspired by your discipline to your art. I adore interior decorating so my new home has been a creative outlet, but every time I read another of your lovely posts, I’m motivated to get back to wordpress. Oh and ….Your photos are excellent, too!

      2. Thank you Michele! I think we have the capacity to have many different creative outlets, which change and evolve depending on what is going on in our lives. Your interior decorating sounds exciting!

  6. I enjoyed your walk Ali and what a fabulous day you had for it. I recognise some landmarks especially the red roofed shack in your last photo which always makes me smile.

    1. The little shacks are gorgeous, aren’t they? They always spark a little fantasy about living in one. I am always attracted to really small dwellings – I think it comes from reading books like ‘Heidi’ and ‘Little Old Mrs Pepperpot’. I love the idea of having a few well-used possessions where everything has a purpose, and you have a routine that looks after itself and makes perfect sense according to the season.

  7. susurrus says:

    I reckon you could twist your ankle, but isn’t recklessly disregarding danger part of the fun of that kind of thing when you get older? When you’re young it doesn’t come into the equation.

    There are so many shells on the beach! I don’t know if it’s acceptable to collect them here, but I saw them used as wonderful mulch in several gardens when I was travelling.

    1. When I was a child I remember collecting them with my mum and plastering them onto plant pots! I suspect that would be a no-no now!

      1. susurrus says:

        It’s all about balance isn’t it? A few used shells for a pot to help give a child a life long love of nature seems a good investment on nature’s behalf!

      2. That’s true! I have never forgotten it.

  8. Oh, how I miss a winter beach! Twenty years ago I enjoyed a week at a beach cottage with my sister and our daughters, a blessing and privilege I will never forget.

    1. That sounds really special. I can hear the wind whistling! Was hot chocolate involved?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful photos, it looks like you had a magical day. My family get fed up waiting for me to take photos too.

    1. A perennial problem. Sand dunes help because they can be busy bouncing whilst I am playing!

  10. Emma Cownie says:

    Beautiful photos – I loved the blue, blue sky. Sands dunes are great to run and even roll down by the are a pain to walk up!

    1. Weirdly I like walking up things. I had very dodgy knees in my youth, and going down was really painful, so I still prefer to go up!!

      1. Emma Cownie says:

        You know, now i think about it, going down hills is more painful for knees than going up!

  11. bcparkison says:

    I would love to have ben there.

    1. It was a very special day. A rare day with no expectations, when events just unfold.

  12. 3C Style says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. It was like I was right there with you on the beach. Great photos. I am also amazed at the amount of shells. Impressive. My walks in January are in the snow since I live in Quebec. Here, no need to run. In winter, we can easily fall on our face. We just hope it’s not on a plate of ice. Lol!

    1. Ouch! I felt that! Do you wear snow shoes or skis? That sounds really beautiful.

      1. 3C Style says:

        The landscape is really pretty when the snow covers everything with his white coat. We need to wear suitable boots for our harsh winter and sometimes slippery ground. Otherwise, it is difficult to appreciate the season. I admit, sometimes I just want to hibernate! Happy Sunday.

      2. I love the transformation when it snows. It is a novelty for us when it happens.

  13. Eliza Waters says:

    After reading this, I want to walk on a winter beach! Too bad the nearest one is over 2 hours drive from here, not to mention probably much too cold at this time of year in New England!

    1. Yes, we were really lucky with the weather that day. We’re about 50 mins away from the beach, so it is nice for a winter day out. I’m sure you are enjoying some winter walks nearer to home, Eliza!

      1. Eliza Waters says:

        Yes, indeed. The snowshoes are getting plenty of use. 🙂

  14. Sitting here in the fading desert light, I began reading your blog and was instantly transported to a sunny, winter beach. Thanks for the virtual journey!

    1. That’s so nice to hear, Laurie. I, on the other had, am intrigued by the mystical sounding ‘fading desert light’. Now that is an adventure!

  15. Christina says:

    I enjoyed sharing your walk. I love the coast at any time of year. Brave of you to share your little incident, I hope no damage was done.

  16. I enjoyed this so much! What an amazing place. I love visiting the sand dunes, it gives you superpowers. Gorgeous pictures, made my heart happy.

    1. Aw, how lovely. Thanks Lisa! ❤️

  17. Clare Pooley says:

    I loved reading this account of your walk, Ali. I have very fond memories of Camber Sands and Rye and it was good to see that very little has changed there. I hope you weren’t hurt when you fell – I am prone (ha!) to falling over spectacularly 🙂

    1. I was in Rye on Friday. It is one of my favourite places.

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