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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas


Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas APRIL. 08, 2021

It looks funny written down but I quite like my new word. We all know what the seaside is but there are many seasides where you have trouble spotting the sea because the beach is so flat and wide. So if it is the seaside but is sea less it must be the sealessside.

Are there any English words with Triple letters?

The answer is not really, because the usual rules of English spelling outlaw triple letters. We put hyphens in words that contain three of the same letters in a row, so as to break the letters up, e.g. bee-eater, bell-like, cross-section, cross-subsidize, joss-stick, and shell-less.

So triple letters are outlawed? Then we must start a campaign immediately to free the triple letter. I rather like jossstick and beeeater.

This is Brean Sands in North Somerset, which is so flat that you do not need a car park, you just drive through the large steel storm gates (assuming there is no storm) down a ramp and you are on the beach. (Oh, I nearly forgot, you have to pay a man £5.00 first which buys a day's parking)

So how did we come to be here on an overcast fairly cold day in early April?

Our current Covid rules preclude us from socialising in buildings or eating at restaurants or drinking in pubs or staying away overnight. Our stay at home rule has been lifted though and we and our family have been vaccinated and we hadn't seen them for sixteen months as they live in the Midlands and we live in South Devon so this was where we met.

If you put a map on a wall and stand back and hold a dart and throw it at what looks like the half way mark between their home and ours it lands right on Brean Sands. Each of us took about two hours to get here and yes it was quite emotional when we greeted each other. Coming from opposite ends of the country we arrived just two minutes apart.

The great advantage of Brean Sands is that when you can only meet people in a car park how nice it is when that car park is a beach. On a beach of course you have to have a picnic.

Picnic- mid 18th century (denoting a social event at which each guest contributes a share of the food): from French pique-nique, of unknown origin.

The word's earliest usage in print is in the 1692 edition of Tony Willis, Origines de la Langue Française, which mentions pique-nique as being of recent origin. The term was used to describe a group of people dining in a restaurant who brought their own wine.

So on Brean Sands you can picnic out of the back of your car while also being on the beach.

Brean is a very popular holiday destination and there are acres of mobile homes and amusement and leisure facilities that line the beach for about two miles. These mobile homes below get the best view.

In Britain, a mobile home is a prefabricated home that is only mobile once, after you buy it and it gets deposited somewhere like this, and one more time when they take it away to be scrapped. In between those two mobile events they are immobile. Homes that are truly mobile, we call caravans, they are the ones on wheels that you drag around small country lanes designed for donkeys, the lanes I mean.

Caravans are made from matchwood and balsa and are lined with synthetic materials designed to look like wood. It is a legal requirement that every item installed into a caravan has to have at least a double purpose if not a triple purpose. So you get cookers that flip over to become sinks and showers that flip over to become toilets and beds that flip over to become sofas, children that flip over to become puppies and wives that flip over to become girlfriends, that sort of thing. For reasons of equality I will allow for husbands that flip over to become pool boys, you get the general idea.

Don't even start me on the abomination that is glamping. Buying a cheap Chinese polycarbonate chandelier and hanging it in a damp tent is not glamorous. Because that is where the glam in glamping is supposed to originate.

Back to the picnic. We even managed to dig out an old wind break bought years ago and only ever used about twice before. There was a steady cold breeze but the rain held off so, what in normal times would have been considered an eccentric and miserable afternoon at the sealessside, was in fact a joyous reunion with good company and very simple old fashioned fun, eating sandwiches, potato salad and sausage rolls on a wintery windy beach.

We had only two other intrepid neighbours, and in the distance in bright yellow, an ice cream van doing a brisk non trade which would probably have been more successful had he been doing hot drinks and baked potatoes.

The sea, out there somewhere in the distance is the approach to the Severn Estuary and the land in the distance is another country, Wales. The tidal range here is one of the highest in the world at fifty feet or fifteen metres, so although you cannot really see the sea, at high tide the car would be fully submerged.

The cliffs at the far end of the beach are on a peninsula called Brean Down which is maintained by The National Trust. At the tip of the peninsula is a fort built to defend the approaches from Napoleonic invasion. At the other end of the beach only faintly visible is a mass of large blocks and cranes which is our newest nuclear power station. Seems like as good a place to build it as any. I mean fifty feet tidal range and all.

The islet which is a small island, just off the shore is Steep Holm, which tells you that the Vikings were once here, because holm is Old Norse for islet. Behind it is Flat Holm which is why you cannot see it. When arranging islets it seems to me that for the greatest effect it would make more sense to put the steep one behind the flat one thereby enabling a view of both, so somebody was a bit remiss there, either that or Welsh. As from the Welsh side they would be the correct way around for the best effect

Remiss- lacking care or attention to duty; negligent.

On the way to the beach I noticed in a funfair alongside the road, half a Ferris wheel, the lower half. Thinking it unusual I decided that because it is quite flat and exposed here that maybe they remove the top half over winter to avoid damage.


Driving home, the half a Ferris wheel was a whole Ferris wheel (almost) with men clambering all over it to assemble it who must have been on a break when we went past earlier. It's little sights like that, creating small puzzles in our visual world that I relish spotting. You don't always get to solve the puzzle, but today I did. That just added to the whole pleasure that was today.

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