Wednesday, 3 June 2015

A Favourite Place

I've done a lot of wandering up and down this beach. It's near Tyrella by the Mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland, and we spent all the childhood summers I can remember, in a small cottage a stone's throw from here.

I don't know how we all managed to squeeze in; often there'd be the six of us, plus cousins and Granny, but you don't think about things like that when you're small do you; it's just the way it was.

What I remember is the mismatched china; lucky bags; ulster fries; an army of earwigs in my felt tip case and swing-ball battles. And just lying on the big bed in the main room, colouring in with my sisters, while mum cooked over the fire beside us in large blackened pans. Life at the cottage was pretty close to camping. There was no electricity and we drew water from a deep well in the garden. Best of all the chemical loo was in a marvellous old sentry box with a sea view my Grandad had picked up in a salvage yard. There were two other tiny rooms off the main one and mum had quite ingeniously managed to shoe-horn in three, three tiered bunks she bought when Armagh prison closed down and all the contents were sold off.

So we slept on our prison beds in sleeping bags full of sand, with a night light flickering beside us. The stuff childhood memories are made of.

Back to the beach and the reason for all the walking, because on the whole kids don't tend to be the keenest walkers, and I was no exception, but the thing is I loved hunting for shells. I'd spend hours wandering slowly along the tidelines, collecting any that caught my eye. The prize finds were always cowries and pelican's feet because there weren't so many, and I did become annoyingly good at finding them.

No surprise then that my daughter has caught the shell-seeking bug...with a gentle push from me obviously, and on a trip to Tyrella a while ago the two of us wandered up the beach together and collected a bucketful of shells. We used them to make mice and pram ladies - I remember doing this with Mum, right down to brushing on a shiny coat of clear nail varnish.

I'm fond of this picture with the sea mist softening lines and colours - she almost looks like she's floating. It was strange old weather, with blustery showers, heavy skies, sun and mist, though not so unusual for a beach day in Northern Ireland...

Funny, I don't really remember it raining during those summers by the sea.

Many more favourite places to peruse over at Tara's Photo Gallery.


  1. Such beautiful pictures. I love the beach too. I also love collecting shells too, as does my little boy. #TheGallery

  2. I love the photos - but your descriptions are magical. Earwigs in your pencil case and swingball battles? It's almost like I was there with you. Lovely post - thank you. #thegallery

  3. We live about a far as you can possibly get from the beach in the UK, but I love it. One day I'm going to live somewhere nearer! Shell collecting is the best kind of fun too.

  4. Your childhood holidays sound magical Tracey. Isn't it funny how we don't remember the bad rain and being overcrowded.... all part of the fun. The shell ladies are fab, I seem to remember making shell 'souvenirs' way back when. What a fabulous photo.

  5. I have similar memories of summer with Grandparents down in Sussex and I don't ever remember it raining either


  6. Love this post! What incredible memories. The old prison beds made me laugh and how lovely to make figures from shells :)

  7. Such beautiful images, combined with the story your words weave. Such precious memories that are living on with your children. I adore those shell folk and must make some with my daughters soon. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  8. Amazing memories T... As you say, what childhoods are made of! I remember going to stay with Dutch relatives and squeezing in. We used to fight over who slept in the bath with cushions and a sleeping bag! :D xx

  9. That sounds magical. Beautiful post.