Large trucks laden with cargo thunder along beside our car, causing the seats to palpably vibrate. Their loads bear familiar insignia – Hamburg-Süd, Maersk, Yang Ming, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd… Like us, these trucks are on their way to the coast, tasked with delivering these cheerfully coloured yet battered containers to the giant ships awaiting them.
Every so often, the grey and brown monotony of warehouses, power stations, petrol refineries and factories is broken by a tantilising glimpse of cool ocean. It beckons to us, winking as the blue mass swells and catches the burning sun’s rays.
We near our destination, leaving industry behind us, seeking relaxation and leisure.
In the shade of a plane tree, we munch on our picnic dinner. The hot chips coat my fingers with grains of salt and skeins of grease, while filling my mouth with pleasure. Crisp exterior, fluffy interior. The homemade salad inspires my pride, as a few of its ingredients were picked from my garden – parsley, chives, basil, yellow beans and green ones. No amount of cold water quenches my thirst, but juicy strawberries and crimson grapes hit the spot.
After dinner, we linger in our patch of shade, gazing out over the bay, engaging in languidly-paced conversation, trying to keep our bodies spread out so as not to have our legs stick together with sweat.
Eventually, we rise and make our way to the beach. The sun still has bite, even at this late stage of the day. Immediately upon entering the water, I am reassured that it is still possible to feel cold. The water’s coolness is a shock, considering the heat, but this becomes a welcome sensation as I inch my way in. Beneath my feet, the sand is soft and fine, and I can feel its rippled pattern.
The sky above the sea is awash with colour – first yellow, then orange, then pink, and then back again. To the west, the fiery sphere gradually descends. Meanwhile, three majestic pelicans glide above us, silhouetted against the flaming orange sky.
We find a small piece of seaweed to throw between three, showering ourselves with water droplets as we execute each throw. This piece of seaweed, with its thin, leggy shape, charts a different trajectory to that of a ball, dancing through the air.
My exit from the water is nowhere as graceful. I stomp my way back to the shallows, displacing the water as I go, allowing the warm air to gradually reacquaint itself with my skin. While the temperature is still high, I remain somewhat cool thanks to the combination of a still-wet bikini and an ice cream. My crunchy, golden-brown waffle cone houses a scoop of mouth-watering ice cream. The bitterness of its coffee flavour cuts through the sweetness of the smooth, latte-coloured frozen treat.
We sit on the wall separating the footpath from the sand, looking out over a scene full of colour and movement. And yet, despite there being hundreds of people, there is something intensely calming about the scene. The beach allows us to be free, to do as we wish, to cool down and to slow down. That’s why it feels so good.
Love, hope and peace from Emma.