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Beside the Seaside ...

The joy of living at the seaside is that on an afternoon we can take a leisurely drive along the seafront, looking out for dolphins and porpoises who can be spotted at times in the North Bay, bringing delight to those who get to watch their graceful and balletic leaps out of and in to the water. We marvel too at all the neoprene clad surfers riding the waves, standing up, falling down, getting back on their boards time and time again. And not least, we get to people watch as throngs of locals and holidaymakers promenade along the long rugged North Bay and the noisy, neon lit South Bay.
Our vicar is a cold water swimmer, plunging into the icy depths in the wee small hours with her troupe of local ‘mermaids’. A pastime she assures us is invigorating, and she certainly enjoys it and it extends her ministry in new and interesting ways. But as someone who runs screaming if the shower temperature dips below ‘tropical’, the very idea sends a shiver down my spine.

Much as we love our drive out, my husband finds that I have become predictable in my old age. I seem to have taken an unusual interest in feet and footwear, or the lack thereof (lack of footwear that is, not feet!) Why is it that some people wander around, not on the sand, but on the pavement, in their bare feet? If I get the smallest bit of grit in my shoe it feels like I am walking on boulders and is crazily uncomfortable, so when walking barefoot along the pavements and roads of South Bay surely your feet are constantly getting pricked and prodded by uneven surfaces, stones, and discarded pokey and sticky things? Why would you choose to do that when you have a perfectly serviceable pair of shoes dangling from your fingertips? And don’t get me started on Lifeguards …

Scarborough has some lovely colourful beech huts at North Bay. Quite a collection of them. So I was delighted to discover that they could be hired by the day. Hubby and I decided to hire one for a couple of random days through the summer months and just hoped that the weather was kind to us. On that first day we arrived as instructed around 9 am to collect our key from the management office and explore our little hut. It was conveniently located on the first tier of chalets, close to the offices and the toilet block, an important consideration for us doddery ones. When we unlocked the chalet doors we were pleasantly surprised. Inside it had all the comforts of home (except a toilet). It was more spacious than I expected, brightly decorated, and you also had your own little patio area at the front of the chalet. We had brought our own folding chairs and a full picnic basket so we were all set for the day. It was a lovely sunny day so we settled ourselves on the patio in front of the chalet with a fresh cup of tea and watched the world go by, and go by it did, there was plenty to keep us entertained.

Before long, inevitably, I decided to visit the facilities. Hubby went first to ‘scout out’ the area. At the end of our little path (2 chalets along) was a landing at the top of some steep steps. At the other end of the landing there was a metal rail fence and at the other side of that fence was the toilet and shower block. Hubby’s reconnaissance mission discovered there was no way through the metal fence which meant to get to the toilet block you had to descend a flight of steep steps, walk along the front for about 20 yards then ascend some more steep steps. It seemed crazy as they were just there! If you stretched out your hand you could almost touch the building. So not one to be outdone hubby said, ‘there must be some way to get there without going down all those steps’. Well, I might have mentioned before, my other half is in his seventies and not so nimble on his feet, but after examining the fence and confirming there was no way around it, and no way through it, he decided that the only way was OVER it! Despite my loud protestations he attempted to clamber onto the fence. He managed to get both feet onto the lower rung and clinging on for dear life he raised his right leg onto the top rail and with a bit of effort got his foot over, and that’s where it all stopped. So, there he was, dangling over the fence like a man sliding off a bucking bronco, not able to propel himself one way or the other. I limped towards him not sure whether to push, pull or shout for help. His instruction were, to say the least, confusing. Two young men coming down the steps from the higher level came across us, looked a little bemused but without hesitation one bounded over the fence with a single athletic leap, the other stayed this side, and between them, with a bit of pushing and shoving, and a bit of ‘to you, to me”, extracted hubby from the railings and gently deposited him on the toilet block side. I decided to use the steps!

Coming down the steps afterwards I saw a lifeguard going into a locked storage area underneath to take out some equipment. I noticed she was barefoot and thought it wasn’t very wise to be walking around this area without footwear. There were some dodgy looking puddles below the toilet block and various bits of litter that could be a hazard for bare feet, not to mention the equipment area itself. I moved on, but before long saw 2 more lifeguards walking along the pavement coming from their little lookout cabin to the equipment store, both barefoot. For goodness sake, couldn’t they slip on a pair of flip flops? Since then I have made it my mission to observe the footwear habit of Scarborough lifeguards. I have discovered that they are barefoot at all times, (well all times when working as lifeguards, I presume that when in Tescos doing their weekly shop they wear something on their feet, but I cannot confirm that). This cant be a good idea, what if they step on a sharp stone or bit of glass, they will be no good to man nor beast with blood pouring from their injured feet! Surely they could wear flip flops which they could kick off when in rescue mode. Even when sitting in their wee cabin filling in paperwork there is not a pair of shoes in sight. I worry about their foot safety. I went on the internet to check and flip flops are advised. I have also watched Australian soaps, again flip flops! Now I find myself searching out lifeguards, staring at their feet and fighting the urge to scream out the car window “get some flip flops!!!” Maybe when our vicar is cold water swimming in the wee small hours she can implore our Scarborough lifeguards to invest in some footwear to protect their feet … and my sanity!



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