One of the things that I love most about living in the Orkney Islands, (and there are quite a few!) is being so close to the sea. It is always there like a friend, inviting you to come and visit.
I have loved the sea since I was a teenager and I had a long period of ill health. We had a family holiday to Cornwall and I felt so much better breathing in all of that fresh sea air. It was such a relief to feel well for that week and that feeling has stayed with me ever since. Being by the sea makes me feel free, untroubled, younger even!
I ended up moving to Cornwall and spent 21 years of my life there, but it is expensive to live anywhere near the sea in Cornwall. That meant that we had to live in the most landlocked part of Cornwall. Still very beautiful, but too far from the sea for my liking.
Living here, I need only look out of the window to see the sea, which I do, often. It calms me, helps me find focus on busy days, when I am doing half a dozen different things at once.
We go to the beach several times a week, either wrapped up in layers on chilly, blustery days or in t-shirts and bare feet on the gloriously sunny ones. Our kids enjoy it as much as I do. We have never been ones for just sitting on a beach, we like to explore. The beaches here are perfect for us. Some sand – for play and feeling between your toes, huge expanses of rock – for climbing and exploring tidal pools, and large amounts of shells, sea-glass and other treasures for collecting.
Being there reminds us of our happiest times in Cornwall. I have to say, that I much prefer the beaches here. They are quiet, we usually have the whole beach to ourselves. We are usually joined by lots of seals, who either bob about in the waves close to the shore or sunbathe on the rocks, occasionally lifting their heads to see what we are doing.
I also love being able to see the other surrounding islands and look forward to exploring them more when the whole covid-19 thing is behind us. It makes me feel like adventure is always just a short ferry ride away.
Our 18 year old wants to get out on the water, kayaking, sailing, exploring the bits that aren’t so easily accessible. I know what she means and I am sure that we’re all going to learn a lot of new skills living here, because of our desire to experience it fully.
The sea has kept us going in these times of isolation. We have all felt so lucky to have that escape. Our home and our pockets are filled with things that we collect there. Things that are used for play, craft and learning. Even our vegetable garden is covered in seaweed mulch, collected off the shoreline. It is great for enriching the soil and keeping away slugs!
I think that I would really struggle if I had to move away from the sea. I know that I would miss it terribly. I love it in all of its moods – calm and sparkling or violent and dark. It is always changing, always wonderful. It gives me a sense of place and a deeper connection to the land that I live on. It somehow makes me feel like a better version of myself.
I am so glad that I can share all of that with my family. So happy, to know that our children can enjoy it for the rest of their childhood. I can see how much more adventurous they are, living here – exploring the natural world all around them. Our youngest child won’t remember life before living here and I think that she would happily spend all day, everyday down on the beach.
Living by the sea with my husband (my best friend) and our beautiful children – there is no place that I would rather be.