When you retire why don’t you do what a lot of retired people do and buy a caravan? It could be a mobile one or, in the case of this story, a static caravan I believe they are called (see right). A misnomer as we shall see. A mobile home might be a better term. Before we bought the cottage we looked at buying just such a thing. But the problem, for us, was that you couldn’t use it through the winter. As this would, admittedly in our ignorance of what winter in a caravan would be like, be the very time we would most want to use it, this wasn’t appealing. Sort of halves its value we thought. We liked the idea of a winter caravan because we thought in winter there would be fewer people and therefore it would be less ‘estate-like’ which was a part of having a caravan on a site we didn’t fancy – at all.
We have always liked the autumn and winter times. Not for us that other well-trodden route of the retired person – spending the winter in Torremolinos in a rented apartment or even your own villa. I live in fear of that, most elderly of all descriptors – feeling the cold. We don’t ever want to stop loving the autumn and winter in this country. We’re still childish enough to love the falling leaves, (in fact we have a tradition that I’ve written about elsewhere around catching a leaf each), and the snow, if and when it comes. But, and it is a big but, as we get older our enthusiasm may be starting to fade just a little. So far, TG, autumn and winter remain in our positive column. But this is not the point. The point is that yesterday we went to the seaside, twice in fact on two consecutive days. We were saying, when we went to Oslo, that we hadn’t seen the sea for ages (and we really like the water) but now, like London buses, we’ve been twice in two days. Not literally in the case of the buses.
The first seaside visit was to Bridlington, or Brid as it’s known in these parts. We went a) because it was close to where we were staying after our wine group meeting of which I’ll no doubt write later in the month and b) because it has, we were told, a nice big beach where, at this time of the year, the pups may race round like loonies without needing to be on the lead. And so they did. I don’t want to be unkind to Brid, I mean now I have a massive readership for this blog, I have to be cautious about what I say and where I say it about. Nevertheless, I have to say Brid seems, at passing glance, to have little to recommend it. Plenty of people swear by it and I suppose you might say if it’s good enough for David Hockney it should be good enough for us. Perversely all it has to recommend as far as we were concerned apart from the dog-friendly beach of course, was that it has that slightly desolate air of the British seaside town out of season. This is the only time we would contemplate visiting a British seaside town. We love the greyness and the lack of people.
The following day we tried another seaside town along the same stretch of East Yorkshire coast, this time it was Hornsea of pottery fame. It has that same air of desolation but again it’s quiet and you can park right by the beach. And furthermore we managed to find just the right kind of café (see photo – it’s the left hand bit of photo) to purchase and eat an excellent sausage and egg sandwich in that rarest of things, white bread, accompanied by a mug of tea. Thus replenished we set off to use up all those extra calories because egg and sausage sandwich, lightly toasted and in white bread, is not our usual breakfast. The beach itself, after a bit of mountain climbing, is as you can see below, big and empty, just how we like it.
Above – the view the other way looking at the caravans
And where does all this leave us with the title of this blog – life on the edge or even on the edge of retirement?
Well it leaves some retired people quite literally on the edge, in the case of Hornsea, on the edge of a rapidly and consistently crumbling cliff. As you can see from the photos. And in the final photo you can see what happened when well-intentioned people thought they could halt the process of erosion. Quite sensibly, it seems to me, people decided to erect a very substantial barrier of metal and rocks at the point most susceptible to erosion. I imagine the people who owned the caravans and the term ‘static’ caravan could not be more ironic in this context, were delighted except the sea simply went round the barrier and the barrier made the erosion even worse. Now the barrier looks like a huge, rusting, irrelevant, Meccano set on the beach. So now the ‘static’ caravans either have to be moved or they will be very non-static plunging down the cliff face. It’s pretty ironic really that, when some people retired, they took what they thought would be the absolutely safe option of buying a caravan at the British seaside and what happens? Your static caravan disappears over the cliff possibly with you in it.
So all this we witnessed in our walk along the beach. At the risk of repeating myself, it is strange, on one hand, you probably could not imagine a more straight-forward retirement activity than having a mobile (literally) home at Hornsea (you might have taken up ice climbing or deep-sea diving, there would be less risk) but, as is often the case with life, and that’s retirement life included, there’s always a wee catch, a little hook waiting to entrap you. Many people contemplating a future retirement will say I just want to take it easy when I retire. I’ve bought this little caravan in Hornsea and I’m going to put my feet up and look at the sea. Well, sort of, you will have to put your feet up because you and your retirement caravan will, in all likelihood, be in the sea. Have a happy retirement, life’s a beach and then you’re on it.
PS. I’ve categorised this blog as ‘travel’ because this is the kind of traveling we do at the moment.
PPS. Watched a programme about the coastal erosion of a village in Norfolk / Suffolk? It looked worse if anything. Penelope Keith said the threat of erosion had brought the villagers closer together, well it would do, there’s less land to stand on. Sadly.