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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Sepia Saturday - Happy Beach Memories

Sepia Saturday gives bloggers the opportunity to share their family history through photographs.  This week's prompt - Bondi Beach in Australia.  

I am a Blackpudlian,   born in the  seaside resort of Blackpool on the north west coast of England.  Blackpool  Tower, built in 1894, was modelled on the Eiffel Tower and rises to 520 feet - facts drummed into us at school. My parents met at the famous Tower Ballroom.  

Until the 19th century, Blackpool was just a small hamlet.  It rose to prominence with the building of the railway linking  it to the mill towns of industrial Lancashire and Yorkshire and soon became England's  most popular  holiday resort, with its miles of golden sands. The unique Blackpool Illuminations were first switched on in 1879 to extend  the season well into the autumn.

 Central Pier with the Tower in the background.

 A view from  Blackpool Tower of two of the three piers.

The earliest picture of me enjoying the beach.  I reckon it was taken June 1945, as Dad is in uniform and I know he had leave between marking VE Day in Germany and then being posted out to the Far East.
Toddling along with Dad

Our own family holidays were taken in Bournemouth on the south coast of England, where a great friend of my mother ran a small hotel. All the ingredients of  traditional seaside fun were there - setting up deckchairs, playing  on the beach, eating icecreams  taking donkey rides, exploring rock pools. 

With my mother.  Every summer she made me a new sun dress and I remember this one in green and white  polka dots, with shoulder straps on my dress and a bolero to go over it.  
Digging holes with my brother.    Goodness knows why I  was I wearing a swimming cap, as I could barely swim at this stage?    Dad with his ever present cigarette, years before he kicked the habit.  it must be a photographic quirk that Dad appears so sunburnt in the photograph below, because he did not lead a particularly outdoor life to get that brown.


We move across country to South Shields on the north east coast of England, where my husband was born.  Here is the beach at Marsden Rock where he enjoyed playing as a boy. 

For many years, holidays were not on our agenda, but now living in the heart of the Scottish Borders,  we do like to get away to the coast "to see the sea".  

A day trip away is  North Northumberland and Bamburgh beach,  dominated by the impressive castle, which can be seen for miles around. 

As a child I remember having a book on heroines in history with an illustration of Grace Darling  (1815-1842), the lighthouse keeper's daughter at Bamburgh  who in 1838 risked storms and icy seas to rescue sailors from the shipwrecked "Forfarshire.   She died of consumption just four years later and is buried in Bamburgh, with a museum dedicated to her life.
 The view on a fine day from the castle ramparts over to the Farne Islands. 

Onto Scotland and another coastal castle in the university town of St. Andrew's. Before the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century,  it served as the ecclesiastical centre for Scotland.      

Rockcliffe Bay on the Solway coast of south west Scotland was our destination for a short break on the trail of my husband's ancestors who I had traced back quite easily  to Samuel Donaldson.of South Leith, near Edinburgh.  it was only much later when writing the narrative that it struck me I had  no evidence whatsoever that the Samuel Donaldson born in 1728 in nearby Kirkbean was the same Samuel Donaldson who married  in South Leith, in 1759.  So I abandoned this line of research - but we enjoyed discovering a new part of Scotland. 

Another bay on the other side of the country - Canty Bay in East Lothian, south of Edinburgh overlooking the Firth of Forth,  where we enjoyed some  self-catering holidays.  On the right is the prominent Bass Rock with its lighthouse and seabird colonies.  We had a clear view of it from our kitchen window and the bay was a favourite walk every day, with our dog enjoying clambering over the rocks.  

And lastly - one of my  most favourite  places  - the Isle of Iona off the west coast of Scotland - a tiny island only 1-5 miles wide by 3 miles long,  with a population of 120 pentameter residents, famous as the home of St. Columba and the cradle of Scottish Christianity.  It is a wonderful, magical  place that is high on my "bucket list" to return.    

if you think it always rains in Scotland, think again when you see the skies and seas in these photographs, though I admit we were very lucky with the weather.  We enjoyed exploring the island, walking south to north and across to the west coast, looking onto the Atlantic.  


                                           And our dog enjoyed the beaches too!  

Click HERE to discover beach favourites of other Sepia Saturday bloggers.  


  1. Lovely photographs, both old and more recent. The locality in Gippsland Victoria our younger daughter and son-in- law live in is called Iona, but sad to say it is not on the coast and seems to have nothing else in common with the original. Perhaps whoever gave it the name also had fond memories of that Scottish island.

  2. What lovely beach memories you have...and seem to be making more yearly!

  3. We were lucky enough to live right in the middle of the country, just about equidistant from both the east and west coasts, but of which were an hour and a half's rail or car journey away. So I recall well not just the Yorkshire coast but also the west coast resorts like Blackpool and Morecambe. A smashing collection of images.

  4. A lovely collection of photographs. Thank you for sharing.

  5. How lovely to live close enough to the beach to have such warm childhood memories - and a wonderful collection of the photos to back them up.

  6. A lovely collection of photos.
    I had an aunt called Iona but her parents were English so they either just liked the name or, being strong Christians, wanted to reference Saint Columba.

  7. It's amazing how Britain's beaches are so varied. Last year on our tour of the far north of Scotland, I was surprised to discover beautiful blue water and white sand beaches.

  8. Well you've got me wishing I was sitting on a beach digging in the sand. A pointless but fun endeavor. And I wish I could return to see Scotland again. It really is incredible…though the weather….

  9. They're all great pictures, but my favorite is the one of you running along the beach with your dad. Brought back memories of my own! :)

  10. Love those photos of you and your Dad! As you know I also love Iona but would like to experience the NBL coast when it's not freeIng, blowing a gale, and throwing it down ;)


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