I LOVE September, the changing colours, the gentle light, the warm days and cooler nights.
I also love the fact children have gone back to school and most of the visitors have gone back home.
You can almost hear Cornwall and Devon breathe a sign of relief as the peak holiday season comes to an end.
It’s as if we’re reclaiming our home. The roads are less busy and the beaches are much quieter.
It all means that those of us who live here and especially those who work in the holiday industry can hopefully enjoy some of what the South West has to offer before proper winter sets in.
For me, one of the greatest pleasures at this time of the year is spending a day at the beach and finding it almost empty.
I usually avoid the beach completely in August. I am too grumpy and too impatient to deal with the crowds or negotiate the congested roads and then struggle to find a parking space.
So having left the beaches to the visitors in high summer, I try to spend a bit of time on the coast come September.
I was lucky enough to go to the beach a few days ago in that glorious weather and for much of the day I was sharing it with just a few other people. Bliss!
As I settled down to snooze listening to the sound of the waves, I reminded myself how lucky we are to have this on our doorstep and to be able to visit it all year round.
It’s such a simple pleasure. A rug to lie on, maybe a towel, flask of tea and a few sandwiches and that’s it. It’s a cheap and cheerful day out.
Or so it should be. Sadly these days, if you factor in the cost of parking and fuel, it’s not such a cheap day out.
It’s also not so simple for some families.
I broke my own rule and visited the beach once in August this year and was astounded by the amount of stuff some people now take with them.
I watched as families dragged trolley-loads of equipment across the sand.
They would then spend the next hour setting up camp for the day erecting tents, gazebos, windbreaks, deck chairs, sun-loungers, umbrellas and cooking equipment. I was fully expecting to see a kitchen sink or two.
Then there was the sports equipment to set up. The huffing and puffing as everyone struggled into wetsuits while inflating the paddleboards.
I watched with disbelief from the confines of my towel that I had laid out in just a few seconds.
When did going to the beach become such a military exercise?
It got me thinking back to my visits to the beach when I was a child. I don’t remember ever seeing anything more than the occasional windbreak.
We certainly didn’t take much with us. Maybe a bag for towels, sandwiches and a flask. We had an orange and green blanket that we all shared and a couple of buckets and spades.
My sister and I would go off for hours and make our own amusement, leaving our mum to enjoy what must have been some much-needed peace and quiet.
There were no wetsuits for us. We would hop around holding a towel around us as we changed into our swimming things. Then, after spending too long in the water, the best we could hope for to ease the chill was a lukewarm cup of tea from the flask.
I can remember when we finally upgraded our beach equipment in the early 1980s and got a cool box. We felt very posh!
Things have certainly got a lot more complicated.
For me, the simplicity of a day at the beach is one of its greatest attractions.
I don’t need all that paraphernalia to enjoy the warmth of the sand and the sound of the sea.
Sometimes less is more!
I am hoping that the rest of September and perhaps even October will provide a few more warm and quiet days on the beach.
Then we have the prospect of windblown, bracing winter walks along the shore to look forward to.
The beach has something to offer whatever the time of year.
We are truly very lucky to live in an area where we are never too far from the coast.
There is nothing quite like the sea air to help clear the mind and lift the spirit.
Sadly our beaches are at constant risk from plastic pollution, sewage discharges and storm damage, so a massive thank you to all those who are fighting to protect them.
Our coastline is such a precious asset and we mustn’t take it for granted.
It makes Devon and Cornwall such a special place for tourists and for those of us lucky enough to live and work here all year round.
I will always be very grateful that the beach has never been too far away.
Bye for now!