STRIKE DAY

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Remember that childhood feeling of anticipation, of adventure? Of a day of freedom waiting to be explored? Often those days seem faraway in adult life but last week I was lucky enough to experience a few hours of such bliss.

As a strike by teachers closed half the schools around the country we decided to use this day for relaxation and fun.

The sunlight glows in the bedroom, gentle golden hues blending with the soft lilac of the flowers on the curtains. Yes! Already a flutter in my tummy. A few minutes to just lie and savour the minutes unencumbered by alarm clocks, free from the usual morning rush. A bumble bee buzzes its way in through the open windows, ambling around the windowsill, I imagine it bumping along the ornaments. My normal irritated reaction is replaced by one of quiet musings, the soft hum calming my incessantly busy mind. As the room warms from the morning sun I rise, open the curtains and gently edge the bumble bee out.

An hour later my husband, son, his two friends and I are heading towards the coast and the town of Clacton-on-Sea – an old seaside resort popular with London day-trippers in the late 1800s/early 1900s who arrived by steam boat. Today the pier on which the passengers disembarked is still standing and is one of the town’s main features. 

‘Urgh,’ exclaims one of the friends. ‘The sea is a really weird colour.’ I look again as we drive along the sea front. Knowing not to expect the brilliant aquamarine of the Mediterranean I expected at least a dark green shade. Not the sludge brown water moving laboriously up and down in shallow waves, the sand that had been stirred upon during the stormy night gradually sinking to the bottom but as if exhausted barely shifts at all.

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We park up and the youngsters are off and away with just a hasty meet up time arranged. We head to the beach, the soft sand giving way beneath each step and with effort we walk on. Distance – I relish the long distance views, the beach stretching for miles ahead of us, the sky a wondrous mix of clouds, rain threatening then the sun peaking through the brightest of blue respite.

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Its glare a sign of hope, the possibility of summer warmth. By the end of the day, we swelter in the heat, the cute little palm trees along one beach section providing scant protection. I lie underneath the fronds of leaves, close my eyes and imagine myself far far away. 

Ahead we spy some buildings and coming closer the most delightful beach huts have me smiling. Pastel coloured, they look incongruous on their own on the sand but they are so sweet. Ready for the doors to be flung open and for children to exit in a gaggle of laughter and swimming aids. As it is the beach is quiet on this an otherwise normal working & school day. We march on for a few miles, then turn and head back. 20160705_122336

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The serenity of the slow turning blades of the numerous windmills out to sea captivates me. The silent motion mesmerising. I stare on and only now realise that they are placed in long rows and that here, in one spot I see blades upon blades, overlapping as I’m standing directly in front of one row. Resembling a cactus. Like an open swiss army knife. What do you see?

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Ahead is the pier, the popular amusement arcade finally gearing itself up for the day’s activities. The view from the end of the pier back to town is fascinating – after all how often do you see the mainland apart from on boat trips?  

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To the side I suddenly stop and gawp. The unexpected murals a joy to behold; cheeky, bold and full of mischief. I spot the website and later discover this is one of many professional pieces of art created by The Silent Hobo. I love the unexpected, to be surprised, so much the better if on my doorstep.   

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By the pier the famous (really?!) Pirate Radio Station Museum is closed. My husband sighs but I emit a silent cheer. Then I begin to wonder, what would be on display inside. What kind of memorabilia would be on display to  celebrate the 1960s, when ships would be anchored in international waters just off the coast, the illegal radio stations sending the popular hits out to the east coast – songs not sanctioned by the mainstream radio stations. Later many of the DJs would become household names working for the establishment of the BBC.

The south end of the beach is marked by the Martello tower, built in the 19th Century by a country fearing the might of Napoleon and possible invasion. The small defensive fort towers are to this day scattered along this stretch of coast line, their rotund shape visible from miles away.20160705_142550

The only sadness to tinge this day is the sight of an injured seagull on the beach. Whilst a flock loudly squawk and fly around, one seagull struggles its way along the beach, one of its wings dragging uselessly in the sand. Almost torn off, it is held on by a sliver. As one the whole flock lifts, frightened by the arrival of two football playing children. The seagulls swoop gracefully in the air, their white grey feathers shimmering in the sunlight. All but one. The damaged bird looks on, mournfully I feel. Alone and stranded. I couldn’t take a photo of it, it just felt wrong – but here is one of just some of its friends. Can you spot the sleepy one?

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Finally our legs moan in rebellion and our stomachs grumble with hunger; obediently we enter the pub we’d seen earlier. By now heaving with visitors we exit and search out a quieter location and happily come across an Asian restaurant. The vegetarian spring rolls are the best ever and quickly I devour the four. The pièce de résistance is the main course. 

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Satiated we head back to the car, via the previously unseen beauty of the local gardens, packed with people enjoying a bench picnic.  

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82 thoughts on “STRIKE DAY

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much, Kathy! 😀 I have been tempted to do a post with just photographs as I feel the same – they often do tell a story. The beach huts are so cute…one blogger said it remained her of Beatrix Potter tales…I would love to read your take on them! If I had a go I think I’d start off sweet and end up with a darker story…mind spinning with ideas…

    • Annika Perry says:

      I know, the sight of the poor seagull stayed with me for a long time and my son and friends were equally sad. We were trying to work out what had happened. Attacked by its own kind? A dog? Still overall a perfect day!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you, Cathleen! 😀 I find the ‘problem’ with modern digital photography is that I end up with so many photos it’s hard to choose just a few! Always a great excuse to relive the day though…

  1. reocochran says:

    This post was chock full of incredible sights, Annika! I like the beach scenery! I was saddened by the injured seagull, wishing a wild life preserve were near. We used to take all kinds of wild birds and animals in shoe boxes in my old home town.
    The art and beauty were so wonderful in the murals. The pastel cottages were so sweet like Beatrix Potter designed little houses for her illustrations. Can’t you see the bunnies in one with Peter, Floppy, Mopsy and Cottontail? the ducks with Aunt Jemima Puddleduck? Putin the dark sky I saw such creative paintstrokes from Mother Nature! 🙂

    • Annika Perry says:

      Robin, I love Beatrix Potter and yes, I can picture all the bunnies there! Mr McGregor’s garden must be on the slope up the hill behind the beach! 😀 Definitely picture book little huts. Oh, I wish your wild life preserve was near us – I just felt so helpless walking away and fearing the incoming tide would carry away the injured seagull. Mother Nature is the greatest of artist of all time I often thing, just gobsmacked by the ‘creative paint strokes’. This is such a lovely all encompassing comment, thank you!❤️

  2. Sunshine Jansen says:

    Somehow those windmills reminded me of a traditional Chinese dance called the “Thousand Hand Guanyin” where several dancers in the same costume line up behind a lead dancer and their arms synchronize to depict the Goddess of Compassion (you can find quite a few videos of this on YouTube); strange that I think of this when the windmills are so much more modern and hard-edged, but that’s how my mind works! Thanks for sharing your day; so many things to enjoy!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Sunshine, I have never heard of the Thousand Hand Guanine although I have vague memory of having seen photographs of the dancers. Thank you so much for mentioning it and I’ve watched a couple of videos and your are right, their synchronised dance with their arms does resemble the windmill turning blades. Almost eerier how similar. Mesmerising to watch and how do they keep such perfect timing! There is a certain poetic irony, as you point out, in the contrast with the modern and hard-edged blades with the soft, gentle dance of compassion. Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing this interesting fact. For anyone interested here is a link to one such dance. Enjoy.

  3. Jacqui Murray says:

    What a delightful day. I can now say I’ve been to the beach this year.

    The windmills–aren’t they noisy? I’ve been around some, and they certainly are, but maybe not from the distance you were. I’ve seen those out in the ocean, where ours are spread across open land.

    And, my ocean is blue–the Pacific. The Atlantic across the continent is more your color. Interesting innit, the difference?

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jacqui, lovely to have you along on the day out! 😀😃 I have been close -ie. underneath – one of these windmills a few years ago up on the moors and yes they are rather noisy, which is why they are often placed in uninhabited areas or in this case far out to sea. I think however quieter models exist nowadays. It was humbling and exciting being beneath such a beast. As for the sea colour – I always assumed the colour had to do with the bottom of the sea – sand, rock etc…but think I’m guessing wildly. Off to investigate…

  4. JoHanna Massey says:

    No part of the drama a strike can bring!
    Choosing a day at the beach was just so smart. What a perfect day.
    So much to consider. The beach huts, the street art, the windmills. and I do wish the Pirate Radio Museum had been open! Great photos and accompanying essay. How much I appreciated your sharing this perfect day. 🐞

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Johanna. There was so much to absorb during the day – strange how it seemed so much longer than a few hours. I think I would have enjoyed the Pirate Radio Museum – my husband would have been ecstatic and regaled me with lots of facts! As soon as I heard about the strike day I was determined it wouldn’t be a stay-at-home and play on the computer day – the youngsters all loved it too and didn’t stop talking!

  5. L. T. Garvin, Author says:

    Annika, that sounds like such a wonderful free day. I like those very few days that we get that are unencumbered by alarm clocks (great description!) I love the beach so much, and I enjoyed your photos, the little pastel cottages, the Silent Hobo’s colorful murals, and the gorgeous garden at the end. Sad about the poor seagull, the injured birds always stand out to me also. What a precious day to share with your family… xo

    • Annika Perry says:

      Lana, injured birds always make me sad and feeling so helpless. It’s the same at home when I find them in the garden. The one time we did rescue one and tried to find help for it no-one wanted to know…sigh…But otherwise this was a magical day and for once my mind stopped so I could take it all in. So glad you enjoyed the photos and descriptions. The beach huts are one of my favourites – I would love to own one and decorate it! The gardens were such a surprise I just stopped in awe – a flourish of colour after the greens, blues and sand hues by the water.

  6. Julie Holmes, author says:

    What a great day out! Thank you for sharing the lovely scenery. It’s nice to have the beach to yourself, and a full day of chillin’ by the sea. Cute beach houses, wonderful gardens, and tasty meal. Perfect day (well, except for the cloudy. Sun would be nice)!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Believe me, Julie, at the weekends during the summer it is usually packed, which is why I could hardly believe we were still in England – I felt like we’d travelled abroad. Very relaxing and everything was perfect – even the just the few minutes of light drizzle! I have decided that this is a summer for Spring clothes as well as rain clothes and fleeces. All in one day!

  7. Miriam says:

    What a wonderful day out Annika. Just like I took you through Maldon I felt transported to your beachy day out. I love the seaside in any season but how wonderful to combine it with history, windmills, quirky colored murals and a wonderful atmosphere. Loved it. xo

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much, Miriam! 😀 Seems like it is a day of virtual travels. No gold mines or steam trains here! To be honest I’ve been here before but never taken proper note of everything around – a joy to see it with ‘fresh’ eyes!

  8. Jessica says:

    Let’s swap for a day! I’ll go there and you come here! 🙂

    What an amazing post! The pictures are gorgeous, too. The sleepy one made me laugh out loud!

    I’d love to be under a palm tree somewhere. Sounds like a wonderful day. 😊

    • Annika Perry says:

      Deal!!😀😃 Jessica, the swap is on! I must warn you the palm trees are very small – potted ones that come out during the warmer months – not the huge trees I’ve seen in Africa and the Caribbean. Still, I love them! I know, the beach huts are so sweet. There are many more further up the coast and they are often on sale for high prices – but I’d love one! We did see one here with the doors open and it was so meticioulslcy and well decorated – like a mini home!

      • Jessica says:

        Woo hoo!! Pick a day! 🙂

        Wow. I didn’t know palm trees came in a size small! Here (in the southern states) they’re huge. Guess it’d be quite difficult lying beneath a small one. Might be comical though. Ha.

        Oh, how I’d love to see one of the insides of those beach huts. We have a building in our backyard (currently full of junk) that is a similar size. I dream of emptying it and a makeover! 🙂

        • Annika Perry says:

          Well, they were just taller than me! Oh, how lovely that would be to have one of these in your garden! Do let me know if you get round to your makeover. You could write a series of posts about the project!

          • Jessica says:

            Oh now, THAT is brilliant! Maybe I WILL do that! I dream of a mini playhouse for Little Bit!

            Remember when we visited that ranch in the spring near those state parks? They had little buildings set up with a few play accessories for kids, a play kitchen for instance and play dishes, and left the rest up to a child’s imagination! Love that! We could make it half playhouse/ half MOM house! 😊😊😊

    • Annika Perry says:

      The beach huts are a delight – such soft gentle hues and I’ve never seen them standing on the beach before as they’re always higher up on the promenade and often painted in garish stark colours. It’s fascinating how much there was to see – an eye-opener to me even though I’ve been there a few times before.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you, Gulara and I love your word of adventure – that is how the day felt to me but I was worried it might seem rather childish to say so. Whilst there I was already thinking this would be lovely to share on my blog and as a result I paid even closer attention to my surroundings.

  9. Bette A. Stevens says:

    What a beautiful day, Annika. I’m feeling revived as I’m reminded of the exquisite beauty that surrounds us everywhere, if we only take time to enjoy it. Thanks for sharing your day away! ❤ Bette

    • Annika Perry says:

      Bette, how true that often we don’t take the time to enjoy these places of beauty! It was such a special day and I felt I had the time and peace to absorb the beauty around me. I must say that it helped being a week day as this otherwise bustling seafront was so empty and quiet!

  10. JC says:

    As I was reading, I almost thought I was there. I’ve never seen anything like the windmill out at sea and all the blades, your description was spot on. Thanks for the adventure… JC

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you, JC – I enjoy reading posts about other people’s trips and am so happy if I can bring you along on mine! There are a lot of complaints about the windmills, unsightly etc, but I love them and stood there for ages, mesmerised by them. Row upon row of futuristic beings, sentinels, out at sea, watching over us…

  11. PeterR says:

    What a fascinating post; so full of life and colour. I have to confess to not having been to Clacton; perhaps a hangover from the Mods and Rockers days. It’s now on the list. I followed your link to the Silent Hobo. Extraordinary work; so colourful and vibrant. It’s almost worth travelling just to see some of those.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Peter, I have only seen pictures on TV and internet of the Mods and Rockers and its hard to believe that this town was part of the fight for social chance! The art work was such a wonderful surprise, dynamic and vivid and it was great that they tagged to the website. Quite amazing artwork and they’re taking new commissions all the time.

  12. swamiyesudas says:

    Glad the Strike gave You all the chance for a Break, my Dear Annika! And for Us, because of that, We have received such a good account of a beautiful place, and nice photographs.

    Somehow, the picture of that ‘line’ of windmills draws me! May be because I keep speaking and writing about using such instead of the nuclear plants. Very nice.

    Regards. 🙂

    • Annika Perry says:

      So happy you enjoyed the post on my day out! Sometimes these unexpected outings give so much to one’s heart and soul. Oh, I agree, I cannot understand the fight to remove these windmills from the coastline. A fantastic eco-friendly form of energy and the windmills are out at sea and therefore do not cause any noise disturbance. Even visually I think they are beautiful and hypnotic to watch. Hope common sense prevails in this matter. Many thanks for your lovely comment.

      • swamiyesudas says:

        Thank You, Anna! …Do Windmills make noise? I have come across quite a few in India, but never heard Any noise!

        It seems that mega-businesses have invested heavily in nuclear power, and they have got the politicians in their pockets, which is why other forms of energy like the Windmills and Solar power are not growing.

        Sad world. Will change Only If and When We, the Common Folk and Citizens come out of Our Comfort Zones and Demand What is Good! 🙂

        • Annika Perry says:

          I walked underneath one up on the moors one year and yes, they are quite noisy as they are so huge. This is why they are set away from urban areas. There are so wonderful forms of eco-friendly energy – slowly but surely they are becoming part of our everyday.

          • swamiyesudas says:

            We come across many of those in the Southern part of India, and see them from our buses. But no noise can be heard, as We are perhaps all of 50 metres at least from the nearest ones!

            Yes, they are wonderfully eco-friendly, but governments are in the pockets of those who have invested in nuclear energy, so they are not buying the current that is generated from these Windmills!

  13. maryannniemczura says:

    What a neat place to “while away the time.” It is filled with history and beauty and those neat pastel huts. Then I got stuck on the word “gawp” and just had to go to the dictionary. From what I gleaned, it is the same as the word “gawk” in American English. I love learning new words and you always provide me with interesting ones. Teachers are not allowed to strike in New York State but in some US states, they still do. Why the strike in Britain? Usually salaries and other grievances. You enjoyed the day and provided your son with a field trip filled to the brim with lovely sights and a meal. A different sort of learning which I favor! Thank you for an educational opportunity today! 🙂

    • Annika Perry says:

      Mary Ann, I love your comment about the alternative education – my son and his friends had such a wonderful day out – exploring on their own, talking non-stop, walking along the beach. After a long school year stuck in a hot overfull classroom this was a real tonic. As for striking…you’re right, to do with pay but also they want smaller classes. Don’t we all in an ideal world but that is not going to happen! So glad you enjoyed virtually the day out!

      • maryannniemczura says:

        I agree about alternative education. What is the average class size in your son’s school? Our union wouldn’t allow over 30 but in some subjects with just one teacher, my classes were too large for languages with 43, 36, 34 and 32 one year. It was that or dropping kids from German. It is an administrative game and an attempt to limit spending, etc. I feat it is that way in other countries too. I had 30 in classes in Germany as well. But teaching and learning there was much different than in the US. Principals in Ger. are also teachers and understand our issues. 🙂

        • Annika Perry says:

          The class sizes in public school are generally around 30, plus or minus a few. Obviously it varies the older they become as some subjects attract fewer students. eg. my son’s computing class has only 20. Yep, you’re right about headteachers being more administrators these days rather than teachers as well – seems to be a recent phenomena.

  14. D. Wallace Peach says:

    A lovely extra day off. I’m glad you put the strike day to good use. We’re still waiting for summer, here in this crazy climate so I envy that warm walk on the beach. Great photos, Annika. It looks and sounds like you had a wonderful day. 😀

    • Annika Perry says:

      It was a very special, magical day, Diana – a gift to us all. The summer here is extremely varied, fluctuating between cool, rain and windy to hot, sunny and humid! I read recently that seasons as such are disappearing and that the last proper hot summer in the UK was 2003! I hope the warmth and summer sun finds you soon!😀

      • D. Wallace Peach says:

        The climate is changing rather rapidly, Annika. I’ve noticed it over the past decade and don’t think we can call it a fluke anymore. I hope you have more sunny days ahead too!

  15. delphini510 says:

    Your description of the sunlight through the curtain, the bumble bee buzzing and bumping around creates such peace.
    Thanks for a wonderful visit to Clacton. Why travel far when so much beauty is near.
    Oh, I see both the Swiss Army knife and the cactus.:) true, no cop out. The art is fabulous as are all your photos.
    I do worry about the poor seagull….

    The main course looks so delicious. I get hungry.
    Mirja

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Mirja. Oh, this time the bumbling bee created a sense of peace – not so much so at four in the morning when it wakes me up! Grr…

      I too have been to Clacton before but this time it was very special; less busy than normal helped but also perhaps I was more receptive to the beauty.

      Oh, thank you so much for calling the photographs art! I’m chuffed – ever since I bought a new camera I’m trying to be more considered in my photography and not quite so happy snappy!

      Yep, the food was delicious…my only moan is that I live so far away I can’t make use of their takeaway service.

      Warmest wishes to you xx

  16. Bernadette says:

    Thank you for sharing your words and pictures. I felt like I was on holiday with you and appreciated so many of the very different (for me) sights that you guided me too.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Bernadette, so glad you enjoyed the different sights and lovely to have you along, even if only virtually! 😃 By the end of the day we were all slightly confused, feeling we’d travelled away and were on holiday but then home within the hour.

  17. Jill Weatherholt says:

    What a wonderful outing you had, Annika. The pastel colored beach huts make me smile too. I recently worked a jigsaw puzzle very similar to your photograph. It was such an enjoyable puzzle. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos. The garden is amazing!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jill, that sounds like a beautiful jigsaw puzzle – what a coincidence! 😀 Further down up the coast there are rows of beach huts, but these are a mishmash of starker unruly colours which is why these gentle hues struck a chord with me. Do you like doing a lot of puzzles? I had a phase for a few years, they became addictive in a fun kind of way!

  18. Anonymous says:

    This sounds like a perfect day (to paraphrase Lou Reed) -and half decent weather too. I’ve been to Clacton a few times but stayed around the pier and town. I’ve never walked along the beach though but will next time I’m there. It looks idylic.

    Love the food photo too!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Mike, paraphrase away, I think Lou Reed wrote such songs just for days like this! It was idyllic – such varied beauty provided by the sea, the sky and landscape. You should definitely explore it if you ever go. Oh yes, the food was divine – not easy to get unusual vegetarian food so this was a treat.

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