As the last warm days of summer began to fade last week, we visited our beach hut on Mersea Island at the time of the Equinox.
It is a very British ‘thing’ a Beach Hut! It was my parents hut; they loved the island and its view of the Blackwater Estuary.
Mersea Island is on the coast of Essex. It adjoins the mainland by a causeway, known as the Strood and it is purported to be the oldest causeway in Europe. It is said that at night, under a full moon, you can hear the sound of the Roman Legionnaires as they marched across the Strood.
The Island is in two halves - East and West. I always think of East Mersea as wild and untamed. There is a Barrow here where ashes were found in a glass jar. If you follow the road as far as you can go, you will find mudflats with a view to the old town of Brightlingsea.
In the churchyard there is a grave of a young woman, Sarah Wrench, who died on 6th May 1848 aged 15 years and 5 months. Her grave is encased by a metal grid. Some say it was because she had died in childbirth, and the grid was to deter grave robbers. Others say it was because she was a witch and the metal grid stops her rising from the grave. I like to visit her grave when I am there and wonder at how young she was.
West Mersea, by contrast, has a busy village centre, with shops, delis and cafes. The older part is picturesque with shutter-boarded Essex cottages, here there are oyster bars and fish restaurants. This part of Essex is famous for its oysters.
The Esplanade is where we go to the hut. There are rows and rows of huts, some three deep, some painted in pretty pastel colours.
Our hut is blue inside and out, with pretty bunting inside. We have a little calor gas stove to boil a kettle on for tea. It sits on the very front row and we have an uninterrupted view of the water.
I sat here on a warm September afternoon, watching and listening to the ringing call of the oyster catchers flying over the low tide line, whilst the occasional yacht sailed into Maldon.
It was so very peaceful, here in our hut, I allowed my mind to drift, I remembered family days here with cold boxes stuffed with food piled in the corner of the hut. I could hear the voices of young family members laughing and giggling, the whistle of the kettle, always on, another cup of tea!
Wind breaks marking our territory at the front of the hut. Buckets and spades, flip flops, deck chairs, shrimping net, cricket bat and balls.
If I listen, I can hear their happy family voices, the teasing, the singing. I can see their lovely dear faces, some no longer with us, but present nonetheless.
On the little shelf in the hut are displayed shells, hag stones and feathers, treasures found on the beach. I can see them now, the little ones proudly bringing their find of a pretty shell or an unusual stone. Their eyes shining with joy at the gift brought that was more precious than diamonds. Now those children bring their children, and more treasures are collected.
I can remember one Boxing Day when I brought my Mum and Dad here with turkey sandwiches and soup and we sat and looked at the water as we sang carols.
I can see my Granddaughter laughing and singing as she danced on the sand, her golden hair glowing in the sun. I can see her wrapped in a towel on a deckchair, bright eyes, giggling, happy.
I look to my husband and I remember nights here, watching the moon on the water, seeing the velvet sky and bright stars. I remember how we huddled together under a blanket and sat content with each other looking out at the view with a cup of soup to warm us.
I am grateful.
I am grateful for my family, the treasured memories I have watching them grow, now bringing their children into our family, into that circle of love that surrounds and holds us.
I am grateful for my very dear friends who I cherish.
I am grateful for growing old with my John. The acceptance and understanding we have of each other and of knowing love and being loved.
As I see October fast approaching, as I too am in the October of my years, I am so grateful for the life I have and the people in it.
One warm day in September made me so happy and feel so blessed that I can recall such glorious happy memories.
I am truly blessed.
Copyright © Christine Watts 2022