Mid-August, hot sunny weather, cloudless skies and a wonderful opportunity to take a short break. We chose to go to the north Norfolk coast, a couple of hour’s journey from home and a favourite family holiday and day-off venue for many, many years. Cromer, East Runton, Blakeney, Wells-next-the Sea and Thornham have been wonderful places to swim, play on the beach, go crabbing, explore the forest, play football, walk, bike, have a ride on the steam train and visit the seals. We have hired a house opposite Cromer bowling club, a caravan at Wells, camped and weathered sun, rain and a gale. Each visit has got its own memories of fun, learning to do new things, disasters and achievements such as keeping a kite airborne, picking up crabs, swinging from rope slides in the forest and braving a cold sea and waves. Although our children have far outgrown many of these things, their parents still visit Norfolk. We normally visit before the summer visitors arrive or after they have left but this time we were there in the middle of summer. We found ourselves using the phrase ‘Do you remember?’ quite frequently. We took photos of familiar places and sent them to the children asking them the same question or recounting a funny incident to jog their memories. We all enjoyed the shared memories and as my eldest daughter remarked, ‘a really nostalgic, emotional journey’. A most accurate observation.
John went on a three-hour walk from Cley, along the beach, to Blakeney point. One photograph that he took made me think of the importance of memories. What is the story behind this photograph? What memories would be brought to mind if the owner came across it today? We may come up with some ideas of why it has been left to rot, so far removed from other sailing craft anchored in the more accessible creeks. We do know that using this boat could have left someone with many happy memories. It is also possible that the memories ground to a standstill because the boat was no longer needed - retirement, children growing up, change of holiday venues for whatever reason, an accident, or, most likely, the boat being lost when it broke its mooring during a tidal surge and was carried to its present resting place.
Although memories are important to us we need them to uplift us and not overwhelm us. It would be foolish to allow them to undermine our ability to live in the now. Bad memories can haunt us, undermining our character, confidence, dignity, and self-worth. Good memories can inspire us to not give up when life is tough, leaving us self-assured rather than disillusioned and a nervous wreck.
My final photo was taken at 7am at the peak of an exceptionally high tide. The sea had covered the car park, and the landing stage for the sailing boats was surrounded by deep water. In the middle of the creek where the water was at its deepest all the anchored sailing craft were perfectly reflected in still water. These boats had ridden the rush of water filling the creek and would be secure in their anchorage as the tide changed direction and rushed out to sea. When the tide changes it is as though someone has pulled a large plug out of a huge bath sucking everything out with it. Not so with these securely anchored boats. They would settle in the same place to a lowered water level in the creek. It is the present that matters. Memories are there to serve us. We cannot afford to live in memories of the past or imaginations of what we want the future to be. Memories, however, can be a source of comfort, a release of inner tensions which give hope and courage as we shed tears and laugh. A wonderful way to feed the soul.