They drove to Charmouth…

They drove to Charmouth and walked along the beach, as they had done the first time they had gone there. To shake off the crowds, said Mrs Foster, and Maria thought, to get closer to Black Ven, and, thinking this, wondered why it should be called Black when in fact it was grey and green and golden. Picking their way along the beach she thought of this and other things while her mother selected and then discarded likely sitting-places with all the deliberation of someone buying a house. At last a place was found that was neither too windy nor too shady, neither too near the sea nor too far, unencumbered by seaweed or noisy neighbours. Mrs. Foster set about the process of making herself comfortable and establishing the boundaries of their territory, and Maria, watching her, thought that if you were a person who didn’t know about seaside holidays  a visitor from outer space, say, or a prehistoric person  you might be amazed to find that at certain times of the year everybody gathers on the edges of England (and Scotland, and Wales) and just sits on them, looking at the sea. It might seem a very odd thing to do.

A Stitch in Time by Penelope Lively

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