Thursday, June 17, 2010
(rather sizeable flag by the Duoro river in Porto)
(my pasty knees appreciating a beaching at Povoa De Varzim)
It came to my consentingly ultra-violated attention this afternoon, as I positioned myself spine-to-sand and space-to-face, that I'm not sure why beaches haven't completely ousted spas from the luxury leisure market. It's not as if beaches haven't got economies of scale on their side (given that there are roughly 356,000 km of coastline in the world, at least 2/3 of that must be deck-chair friendly). Although not all of them are accompanied by a glossy minimalist pamphlet or satisfyingly gravelly circular driveway, the beach rivals the spa in all the core credentials - simply trade fluffy bathrobes for charmingly frayed beach towels, flannel slippers for skinny dippers, candles and Perrier for Cornettos and pier-jumps; suddenly spas start to look like a primitive prototype for their sandy counterparts. Especially considering the luxury spa claim of the "all inclusive" notably excludes the smooth, cream-crested cerulean depths, freezer fresh Magnums and invitingly tanned locals called Pedro or something- it's a wonder tourists haven't thrown in their cucumber slices for sunglasses years ago.
A brisk sea wind rolls a soft jostle across my towel, through my toes. Tousling loose hairs, like the reassuring hand of a relative, it insistantly hustles out the pedantic strains and petulent stresses that, drainingly unwelcome, bustle and stagnate in every nerve ending, naggingly sensitive to every touch.
I'm relieved to feel them dusted away; those dredges and bundles of frantic fret that silently leeched from an otherwise sunny dispostion. The seaside is medicinal, purifying in its granular swerves, its blunt unhuman denial of repitition, disregarding of habit and the practical. Not one shore the same, not even the same stretch matches from second to second; but like James Bond's varying but inevitable successes, or Jordan's perennial demises, each more reliably and predictably embarassing than the last , the coastline reassuringly supplies a fret-draining fix at each and every port. Except Weston-Super-Mare, which remains life re-affirming solely for Jeremy Kyle's producer.