Tag Archives: beach

Mindfulness on Arran

I didn’t take my phone with me when we walked to Kings Cross point.

When we reached the bench at the top of the hill I sat down and let Rod and the boys carry on down to the beach.

I’ve been sitting on this bench since I was six years old. I considered this as I gazed out over the bay, across to Lamlash and up to Goatfell. It was so quiet. The only sounds were the insects zipping past my ears or hovering in the gorse behind me. Occasionally I’d hear a seagull down at the shore or the engine of a far off boat.

It was really hot today, I was in a vest top and shorts and could feel the warmth of the sun on my left side. It was almost completely still, only a light breeze made the leaves nod vaguely.

I was completely in the moment, but the worn wooden slats of the bench were hard and rough, so I stood up and followed the grassy path between the ferns to the beach, enjoying the relief of the dappled shade. I heard animals scurrying in the undergrowth and then laughter as I turned a corner to spy Rod and the Wee Man ankle deep in the sea. The tide was in and KD was asleep in his buggy in the shade of a gnarled tree.

I watched them for a moment, smiling, then picked my way across the stones to join them. I realised Rod had a beer in his hand and shook my head. I slipped off my trainers and stepped into the Firth of Clyde. It was catch-your-breath cold so I stayed in the shallows, scanning the sand for hermit crabs. The sea snails had left long tracks behind them and the cockles clung to the smooth stones – I could see every detail because the water was so clear. My eyes suddenly fell upon three bottles of Corona nestled in the rocks, keeping cool.

“You’re nothing if not resourceful,” I called to Rod.

“I’ve got a bottle opener in my pocket,” he called.

“Of course you do, “ I replied, selecting one. He popped it open for me and I took a slug. The rim of the bottle was salty. I stepped out of the water and selected a flat rock on the beach to sit on, listening to the dry popping of the seaweed around me. The tide was going out. The sun beat down and KD slept on.

Two women and four dogs appeared. We knew them, of course. They stripped to their swimsuits and waded in for a swim, shrieking that it never used to be this cold and beckoning their dogs, who sat resolutely on the sand. I listened to their chatter and watched Rod and the Wee Man play football with a rainbow ball and thought, “I’ll remember this moment as clearly as I can, so that when I’m old and lonely, I’ll feel happy.”






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Two surprises on the beach

Saturday didn’t sneak up on me like it did last week.

Last night I decided the wee man and I would spend the morning at the beach. It’s one of my favourite places in Aberdeen and a real perk of living here, so would kill the morning perfectly.

Isn’t it funny that the more relaxed you are, the easier things become? Two lovely unexpected things happened.

First, the sun blazed defiantly, as if to mock late September. The wee man and I ran around the playpark at the entrance to Balmedie beach, shedding layers and squinting. We shared a packet of Hula Hoops on a bench and he slurped his juice, swinging his legs and grinning up at me. I suggested we went down to the sea and he nodded happily.

It takes a while to walk through the dunes, but we weren’t in any hurry (another lesson from last week). The wee man gathered feathery stems of grass and poked at the fluffy heads of gone-to-seed thistles. As the path became steeper I had to carry him but I enjoyed the anticipation of the view that would greet us at the top.

view from the top at Balmedie BeachI’m glad I didn’t let him go completely when I took this photo – there’s been quite a lot of erosion since we were last there and the path dropped steeply to the river. We found an alternative route, took off our socks and shoes and ran out onto the sand in the sunshine.

For once he held my hand properly and together we stomped through the rivulets of water on the hard, wave-marked sand. He’s not too sure about the sea, so we stayed a little bit back and drew pictures instead.

Pictures in the sand at Balmedie

Then the second lovely thing happened.

The wee man spotted another boy and ran over to him. He was eating raspberries from a tupperware and was happy to share. Embarrassed, I ran up to pull the wee man away, but the dad reassured me it was fine, so I supervised from a distance. We struck up a conversation and it turned out his wife had studied in Glasgow. He suggested lots of new places for me to explore, including another beach at Newburgh. We swapped stories of the trials and tribulations of toddlers (he’s the tidy one in his family too) and the two boys played together beautifully for twenty minutes.

I’ve said before that the wee man opens lots of doors for me, and I appreciate that more than ever in a new city. People have told me Aberderdonians are not generally friendly, but I’ve found the opposite. They’re usually pleased I like it so much here and happy to share inside information.

So rather than spend a lonely morning trying to keep the wee man entertained, I ended up having a lovely morning and feeling like I was on holiday. As I headed back to the car, with my arms aching because the wee man was knackered and refusing to climb the paths, I reminded myself that life was pretty sweet. An interesting chat with a stranger on the beach kind of confirms your faith in humanity a bit.  Plus he’d reassured me probably more than he’d realised when he’d said, “It does get easier.”




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