It’s August and in August the Country Gate gang head to the beach.
A visit to the seaside is a treat for us at any time of year and for well over a decade, as the children grew up, every school holiday the waggons to rolled to West Wales. We couldn’t afford to go anywhere else. Whilst friends flew to Spain, Majorca, Croatia, New Zealand, Japan and Greece we spent time doing essential home maintenance on our ‘ethical holiday home’ (family home inherited from my late parents and occupied all year round by an aged aunt).
There are worse places to go for a holiday than within a stone’s throw of Broad Haven South, Barafundle, Amroth, Newgale and White Sands Bay. We bathed, played cricket and frisbee, discovered bodyboarding, flew kites, read books and ate fish and chips whilst the sun went down. In the Winter we wandered in wellies or walking boots, thick jumpers and waterproofs. Whilst the wind tugged at out hair we sat on the rocks and drank hot coffee from flasks.
I worried that we weren’t giving the children a ‘proper holiday’ – whatever that means – but I needn’t have. We visited some fantastic places – many of which are documented in this blog – despite the bitter sweet feeling that the whole experience could have been better had my parents been alive to enjoy them with us. My great aunt died (at nearly 100) three years ago so we sold the house to a cousin, allowing the essential maintenance on our own house instead and in recent years we have visited Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, Guernsey and Devon. There’s a definite seaside theme here. “I could watch the sea for hours,” said my daughter this week, whilst gazing out to sea on the coastal path at Baggy Point near Croyde in Devon. My middle son tentatively asked if it was too far for a day trip to Broad Haven South later in the month. He’d like to go back.It’s in the blood. They speak fondly of those holidays just as I look back on all the evening jaunts to the beach after dad came home from work when I was their age.
For those suffering from stress or anxiety the seaside has so many benefits. If it isn’t available on prescription, it ought to be. Here are my five reasons why.
- Sun 30 minutes a day spent outside in natural light can significantly affect our wellbeing. The higher the level of Vitamin D in the body, the lower the blood glucose level, suggesting that sun avoidance may be linked to the onset of Type 2 diabetes. A deficiency of vitamin D leads to muscle pain, weak bones, fatigue, lowered immunity, depression, mood swings and sleep irregularities. Wear sunscreen but get out in the sun when you can and the beach is the perfect place to do it.
- Sea Sea water has antiseptic properties and may improve skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. (I can vouch for the latter.)The salt and potassium chloride content ”seals” the damaged skin and speeds healing. Obviously you need to wash the salt off and moisturise well after a few hours on the beach but it really makes a difference. Psoriasis reared its ugly head first for me when I hit puberty and my self-confidence plummeted. I was persuaded to go sea bathing by my parents after the tourists had abandoned the beach in favour of their evening meal and my condition improved so much.Sea water also has strong antihistamine effects and is a good decongestant. It may even help to reduce snoring – always a bonus.
- Sand Sand acts as a natural exfoliant, helping old skin to shed more quickly and improving its natural regeneration. Walking, running or exercising on sand is also recommended as the extra resistance it imposes on muscles can maximise the effects of any fitness regime.
- Smell The distinctive smell of the seaside is caused by dimethyl sulphide gas and breathing it in deeply will help you to sleep better.This is because sea air is full of negative hydrogen ions, charged particles abundant in sea spray and concentrated in fresh air, which improve our ability to absorb oxygen by neutralising damaging free radicals (positive ions). These negative ions can also balance levels of seratonin, the feel-good hormone, making us less prone to anxiety. Patients with respiratory problems and pulmonary disorders report improvements in their condition after spending time at the seaside too.
- Seaweed I’m Welsh band you may be shocked to hear that I can’t bring myself to worship at the altar of larver bread. If you can bring yourself to partake, seaweed has high levels of zinc, chromium, manganese, selenium and particularly iodine, all essential for good health. I can embrace a seaweed bath or face mask however to draw toxins out of the body and leave you feeling centred and energised.
So there you have it – a beach is the place for tired teachers to go on their summer hols – or any hols.