This week… under lockdown (five)

This week I’ve been humming that haunting hit song by The Mamas & The Papas.

Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me

In these difficult days under lockdown, I’ve been daydreaming about the beach. It’s partly because of the warm spring sunshine and also, of course, because I’m cooped up like everyone else at home, and longing for wide open spaces.

Where are you dreaming about travelling to when we’re able to move freely once again?

I miss the sound of the waves, the drag of the pebbles when the tide is drawing out. The first paddle of the season when the water is icy cold, but the shock of it energises you from your toes up. The wide open vista out to sea that offers respite to your eyes, and your mind, from the clutter of everyday life. And the farthest point where the ocean and the sky merge on the horizon with the promise of forever.

I long for the coastal breezes on my skin and in my hair. Both the fresh, cool coastal winds of an English spring, and the warm, soft caress of the Mediterranean.

Solent Fort visible on the horizon on the English Coast

When I next get to the beach I’m going to kick off my shoes and splash about in the waves at the water’s edge. I’m going to walk for miles when the tide is far out at Hayling Island, right down to the Solent strait which separates The Isle of Wight from the mainland at Portsmouth. On a clear day you can make out the historic Solent Sea Forts, built off the coast to protect the waterfront city and its naval dockyards during the Napoleonic Wars.

What will I eat?

Often I go to the beach early in the morning and take a picnic breakfast with me. On Christmas Day this could be smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, and hot soup. The beach at Hayling is wide open and, in winter, the wind is so cold it makes your ears hurt. So I eat my picnic in the car parked facing the sea for the best views, with a blanket for warmth. In the summer, I take fresh strawberries and yogurt in a screw-top jar with granola topping, and a flask of hot, sweet, Arabica coffee. I don’t bother with too much beach gear, instead I find a rock to perch on or simply settle into the soft warm sand.

When the tide is out there are lots of little warm pools to paddle in

What will I do?

After a long walk I’ll settle down with the Sunday papers – the only day of the week I read a real newspaper – luxuriating in time to explore cover to cover. I begin with the main section, moving on to the review, the travel and the magazine supplements. Amongst the sand dunes it’s so peaceful without the background of traffic to disturb the day.

I’ve been going to Hayling beach since I was a child and it hasn’t changed one little bit. I find that reassuring in an uncertain world. Everthing is as it was when, as a family, we holidayed here in the Sixties. It’s the place where I feel most close to my dad, a keen swimmer and a walker. The simple picnic, the papers, and a flask of tea. Back then we would stay in a caravan on the island, and the day would end with a fish and chip supper from a local chippy as a treat.

Poppies in the East End of London, home to fish & chips since 1953. More…

I’ll drive there as it’s a fair way without regular public transport, and these are early days after all. I’ll happily pay the parking fee which goes towards the upkeep of the, very clean, beach. I’ll collect all my rubbish to take home and recyle.

Family traditions. My grandparents on Brighton beach circa 1950s

Who will I see?

Hayling Island has a long history of windsurfing and there will be surfers out on the waves whatever the weather. There will also be plenty of dog walkers. Dogs of all shapes and sizes will be rushing up and down the beach delirious to be released from confinement. Hayling is a safe family beach and the children will be intent on making sandcastles and splashing about in the shallows. Speed boats will occasionally zoom past further out and on a sunny day it will feel like I’m in the South of France. There’s space for everyone here when the tide is out. The beach goes on for over three miles and never feels crowded.

Watch to the end to see the speed boats!

What will be my soundtrack?

The Mamas & The Papas are a perfect soundtrack to a lazy Sunday at the beach. If I feel the need for music I might also listen to Simply Red, Dionne Warwick, George Michael or the late, great Glen Campbell (his last album Ghost On The Canvas is so poignant). I’ll use earplugs so the music doesn’t disturb the peace and quiet for others.

How will I feel?

When I head for home I’ll feel, not tired exactly, but like I’ve discharged all my excess energy and stress. And I’ll have that delicious feeling of having been scoured clean by the ocean breezes, one of the best things about spending time at the beach.

Tide’s out! Hayling Island on the South Coast of England

Where are you dreaming of?

Now it’s your turn.

It’s likely that the first steps when the world reopens for business will be staycations. I’m delighted that the Hashtagtravel community are located all over the world. Wherever you call home, where will you be visiting? Tell us about it in the comments. How does it make you feel? What will you eat? Who will you meet? What music will provide your perfect soundtrack?

“The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.” – Shirley MacLaine, actress

Other beaches I’d like to visit soon include Swanage, Lyme Regis and more.

In my inbox…

This week it feels like a sea change (notice the clever segue, heh heh) as people begin to hope that the bad times are coming, if not to an end, at least to a relaxation of the lockdown. In the meantime, there’s plenty to explore online and here’s a few of my favourite picks this week.

Learn to cook from scratch

This one’s for you if you have come to realise during lockdown that you need to brush up on your basic cooking skills. I hear that Rosalind Rathouse, founder at Cookery School at Little Portland Street, London, believes she can turn anyone into a competent cook in just five days. Rosalind is offering FREE personal online cooking classes, from complete novice to home cook, over ZOOM. Obviously subject to availability. Email #CookerySchoolChallenge.

Mind your manners

A quick overview of negotiating our new society from Debrett’s

Debrett’s has been the authority on modern manners since 1769. This week they published advice for ‘keeping calm and carrying’ on in a changed world. The new rules of etiquette apply to home life, shopping, or venturing out in public and offer ways to help adapt to our Brave New World. Brush up your skills at

Just chilling

Visit Florida

There are many promotional travel videos going around. This one by Visit Forida is so good. Why? Because nothing much happens in this almost 5 minute film. There’s a beach, a burning log pile, the sea and the sun. If you stay with it, it becomes a meditation. Relax, watch the flames dance and let the crackle of the fire soothe. Be swayed by the peaceful swoosh of waves and watch the sun dip below the horizon. No razamatazz, no scenes of people cliff hanging, no dramatic dives from cliff tops into the ocean, no champagne fizzing and no hotel pitches, just nature, beautiful.

Unspoiled, Unexplored, Unbelievable

Visit Faroe Islands, part of the Kingdom of Denmark, with a local guide courtesy of a live video camera. Just like a computer-game you direct the moves of the Faroese islander. Want to the experience the rugged mountains or cascading waterfalls close up? Use a joypad to see views from an on-the-spot perspective and explore locations on foot, or by helicopter for a bird’s eye view of the wild and natural countryside.

The unspoiled and unexplored Faroe Islands are now on my travel wish list.

Virtual tours take place once or twice daily (for now). The Visit Faroe Islands team will be online in real time to answer any questions.

That’s it for this week. Here’s to an end to lockdown, a global recovery in every sense of the word, a time when we can all go out safely into the world once again. Stay safe everyone.

Dream a Little Dream. Source: LyricFindSongwriters: Fabian Andre / Gus Kahn / Wilbur SchwandtDream A Little Dream Of Me lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc

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