Looking down on a secluded beach

A pale artist’s guide to enjoying the beach (number 4 is my favourite!)

A day at the beach is something we dream about for half of the year but have you ever come home and thought “well that could have been better?” Sunburn, blue bottle stings and believe it or not, boredom are some of the regrets we can have if we don’t pay attention to the signs and do something about it. I’ve come up with a simple list of 5 things to make a beach visit perfect, unhampered… and creative.

I feel the heat. It impacts me so much that I don’t really enjoy being in the sun. It’s all thanks to a teenage dalliance with ignoring my fair skin that resulted in sun stroke that layed me flat for days. I’ve never enjoyed the sun since. A bit sad but I have found ways of enjoying the beach all the same.

Looking down on a secluded beach

1. Forget the hat, carry an umbrella

Hats are hot and only shade half your face. I have an umbrella designed for both the sun and the rain. It casts a large shadow over me and allows the sea breeze to weave its wonderful cooling way around me, including my head. I love it. Mine has a reflective surface on the top and a pretty Japanese floral on the inside. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Carry it with you everywhere while at the beach, except in the water – I don’t recommend swimming with it!

2. Sunscreen up before you leave home

Sunscreens take 30 minutes to bond with your skin and become effective so don’t make the mistake of applying it when you get to the beach. You’ll save yourself the inevitable sand mixed in and rubbed where you don’t want it too if you apply it before you leave home and a sunburn surprise.

A line of flotsam on the tide line

3. Walk along the tide line

Have you ever had a blue bottle sting? Awh awh awh awwwhhh! Believe me you don’t want that cutting your beach day short. You know that ‘line’ above the where the waves run out, where the bubbles collect, along with bits of seaweed, shells and pebbles. Well, take a stroll along it and look for evidence of bluebottles. If bluebottles are in the water, some of them will have collected there too. I walk a hundred meters or so in either direction just to make sure. No bluebottles, then I feel safe to get in the water.

Collected flotsam

4. Take a break from the breakers and explore

We all know the swimming is why we go to the beach. It’s cool, refreshing and relaxing. But don’t let it be the only highlight. Explore the rocks at the end of the beach and the tide line as you walk there. Collect bits of flotsam, shells, beach stones and coral and keep them for the next key step. Once at the rocks, slow down and look. Fish, anemones, crabs will show themselves if you are still and quiet. The rocks too have colours and textures that are beautiful. Remember when you were a kid exploring rockpools? Emulate that childlike behaviour and let yourself become fascinated again.

5. Make something

Remember when a beach visit meant buckets, spades and building sandcastles? Well I’m not going to suggest you do that again unless you particularly want to or have kids to play with. Those bits and pieces you collected however, play with those. Arrange, juxtapose, stack, layer. Create a little bit of natural art. Keep moving things until you like the look of it. Take a photo with your phone if you brought it, or bring them home with you to extend the fun and photograph your #flotsamlove arrangement there. Please share them on Instagram and use the hashtag so I can see them too.

Flannel flowers growing at the base of a banksia tree

The best beach visits are simple.
Don’t take too much with you but do make sure you have a collecting bag or big pockets. And don’t stop looking around on the way home. I found some flannel flowers. What did you find?

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