Sandy Bay

As early morning arrives beneath a clear, still sky, beckoning the beginning of another summer’s day, Sandy Bay awakes quietly breathing a sigh of quiet restfulness, after the frivolities of the night before.  The peacefulness of the dawn, only broken by the cry of gulls hovering upon the thermal air, and the gentle snooze of the sea embracing the sand, welcomed the gentle breath of another day.  All was quiet too, in the holiday caravans perched on the cliff top. There they sat looking out to sea, as if to capture the first rays of the sun as it lifted its head to the east. Safe inside, their guests slept soundly after the fun of the evening before, which marked the first day of their holiday. Indeed, everything was unearthly quiet. The lights and the buzz, of the fairground, the laughter and voices of those who had frequented the bars and Night Clubs the previous evening, it seemed, had been captured and carried out to sea upon the sea wind.

The sun gradually arose in a vibrant blue sky, with violet hues. Its rays acting like a magnet to those in the caravans. As they emerged rubbing their eyes, gently; George exclaimed “Hey! Look at them” pointing towards the cliff path, “They’re keen.” He had spied two early morning joggers, making their way along the path towards Exmouth. Both were huffing and puffing like some long ago steam engine still in use. However he thought, at least they were making use of the clear morning air in their pursuance of fitness. “Morning” shouted George, “Morning” came the due reply. The couple continued their jog uphill past George’s caravan, the lady in the lead finding the incline less difficult than her companion, to his amusement.

George scratched his head, and re-entered his caravan. George had booked a week’s holiday by the sea with his family, his wife Pat and their two children, Lilly, aged 9 and Kevin, aged 7. The family had travelled from London the previous day, anxious to get away from the busy big city to seek the freshness of the Devon seaside. George had woken some hours earlier, by the sound of Seagulls walking up and down on the roof. This early call provided an insight into what would happen each morning during the holiday. The Gull’s webbed feet tapping out a beat, a kind of seaside calypso if you like.


Over in E field, things were stirring in caravan E122. Jocelyn and partner Darren, accompanied by their children Amy 6 and Paul 9, had made the long journey from the North of England, Wigan, to be precise. It had been a long trip, with delays on the motorway near Bristol. To make up for this, Darren decided to cook everyone breakfast. To avoid disturbing the family any more than possible, Darren gently crept around the caravan to start cooking. All went well until he started to grill the bacon. The smell of bacon always seemed to be part of a caravan holiday, the aroma of which often being carried on the breeze from other caravans. The problem was that such gastronomic exploits always attracted the attention of the smoke alarm, which for some reason was always located in the vicinity of the kitchen. This loud bleeping caused havoc in the caravan, especially when everyone appeared to move at once, caravans seemed to require a certain amount of planning, and foresight, when all moving at once.

Further up in the camping field, two couples had erected their tents side by side. Kerry and Trevor, from Wales, had met Tracy and John from Birmingham, in the park while on holiday the previous year. They had got on well, and a friendship had developed between them. To celebrate their re-union, the couples had ventured down to the Patio Bar for a few shandies. It had been quite late when they had arrived, and after setting up camp, darkness had arrived. This, of course, proved no problem on the way to the bar, but the return journey proved more difficult. Where had they pitched their tents? The night, and the consumption of one too many shandies made the task increasingly more difficult. Tripping over tent guide ropes, much to the alarm of the caravan’s occupants, did not go down too well. After an hour or so, the couples were rescued by the camp’s security, and safely deposited in their own tents. In the right one, it is hoped!


In the East of the park, in a caravan facing towards Budleigh Salterton, a committee of Cornish Morris dancers had set up home for the week. With the flag of St Perran proudly flying from the television aerial, the group of guys planned to dance their way through the holiday, hoping to attract some free beer en route. Although it was early morning, the group decided to practice a dance they had recently learned outside the caravan on the grass. It was indeed peculiar, to hear the sound of bells and a slightly out of tune squeeze box greeting the dawn. Was this normal practice in Devon? Other visitors in nearby caravans, might have mistaken this event to be so. But as a local man passing by on a push bike pointed out. “They are Cornish”.

Time sailed on and the Sun, now high in the sky embraced the park with its warm, golden light. George and family had decided to head for the sandy beach. The children loved building sand castles, while George fell asleep reading The Daily Mail. His partner however constantly nudged him to stay awake and take an interest in what the children were doing. The beach was crowded, each square meter, it would seem, portioned off by boundaries marked with wind breaks and deck chairs, marking territories. The tide on its way in usually caught those beach goers not used to the sea’s cyclical rhythm off guard, with possessions being swamped by the wave’s dynamism that was larger than the one’s before. Such situations often led to a commotion of activity, people hurriedly trying to rescue towels and rubber rings, before declaring defeat and resigning to the enigmatic strength of the sea’s vigour.

The afternoon went well for the Morris men, the group comprised of both men and women who danced on the promenade in Exmouth. The group that come from St Dominick in East Cornwall proved to be a great attraction to the tourists who were on holiday at the resort. Although they were called Morris men the group also comprised of some ladies. In addition to the out of tune squeeze block one of the guys played the fiddle. The assembled crowd were amused to witness a bit of needle between two of the ladies. As the Morris men danced with sticks clashing, the ladies seemed to have a battle of their own. After an hour or two and abandoning the dance for the bar the Morris men headed back to the caravan park.

Evening was drawing in and the families returned to their caravans after enjoying a great day. George and Pat decided as did Jocelyn and Darren to take their children to the fun fair during the early evening. The bright lights and the excitement of screams of laughter filled the evening air. This was followed by a gentle stroll down the illuminated smugglers walk, avoiding from time to time the approach of tiny Tim the parks little steam traction engine. At the end of their walk, calling in for a burger and chips which signalled time for bed, for their children, and with baby minding in place the parents headed for the night club to enjoy the cabaret. The night clubs opening times signalled the emergence of Kerry and Trevor and the other couples from their tents in the camping field who all headed towards the club for some light refreshments. The atmosphere in the club was buzzing with activity and excitement. The cabaret that night was a recognised name from the world of television. Previous acts who had provided brilliant entertainment at the club; were entertainers such as Ken Dodd who had kept the audience in fits of laughter until the early morning.

A man then appeared on the stage and blew into the microphone and announced that unfortunately the star act designated for the evening would not be able to appear after all, due to a large traffic jam on the m4 interchange, near Bristol. But please don’t worry for we have arranged an alternative act live from the banks of the river Tamar in Cornwall, with no expense spared. I am pleased to announce The St. Dominick Morris men, complete with an out of tune squeeze box and a fiddle.





By Ray Steed

Copyright MysticDevon

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