Aah beaches....don't we all just love them! The vastness of the horizon, the sand between our toes, the sound of the waves crashing and a sense of freedom and space that we so often crave. Then there's that refreshing dip in the sea, bobbing up an down and feeling a million miles away. The Instagram family, which I am a part of is saturated with beach photos. Scene after scene of idyllic seascapes, amazing sunsets, gorgeous bikini babes and cocktails galore. For all I know there might even be more beach shots than g-banger booty shots!
But behind all that beauty and perfection and those carefully constructed moments captured on camera is another type of reality - well, the real one. Beaches aren't always what we want them to be. Here in Australia we are surrounded by the sea and all of our capital cities are situated along the coast. So beach life and all it entails, is simply a way of life for many. The sea, the sun and the sand attract all sorts, from grannies to kiddies and everyone in between. I didn't grow up along the coast or near a beach. So this isn't a natural environment for me, and I've noticed I have developed a rather strange relationship with it.
Like everyone else on the planet, when I glimpse the sea with my rose-coloured 'beach' glasses I gasp and feel excited, like I'm about to experience something phenomenal. But before too long it's not uncommon for me to say to Mr Fritz, "You know the only problem with beaches is that they have sand!" Now as absurd as that may sound, these sentiments are true for me. I actually don't love the sand. In fact it usually really shits me.
In South Africa, where I spent some of my childhood, I only saw the sea when we travelled to Cape Town which was about 1400km away from Johannesburg. And then we just played in the shallows, thank goodness, as it is the territory of the mighty great whites after all - something I would not have been aware of back then.
Since moving to Melbourne, Australia I've had unlimited access to beaches. The closest ones are just in Port Philip Bay, about a 15 minute drive from my place, but these are not necessarily my favourites. Being a self-confessed 'non beachy person,' I have surprisingly been to more beaches than I ever wished for. In 2013 Mr Fritz and I took off on a ten month life-changing adventure around Australia and experienced some of Australia's most unique, remote and pristine beaches.
We stopped counting after beach no. 45. Some were truly magnificent and others were uninviting and the sea aggressive. I particularly disliked the murky waters, wild waves, crazy wind, the swarms of flies and sandflies, and lots of crushed shells that give you little cuts. Oh, and the thickly washed up seaweed with the accompanying stench, you know, the one that you just can't linger in. I was also very nervous in seas that were sometimes frequented by salt water crocodiles, sharks, massive fish (yep, fish freak me out), giant stingrays, sea snakes and jelly fish.
Beaches are often synonymous with wind - another thing that shits me. And together, wind and sand make for a truly unpleasant experience. I still recall that fabulous moment when our flimsy sun shelter was almost lying flat with us inside it - oh what fun! And when the sand got whipped up and sand blasted the crap out of us. Oh and all our stuff got covered in sand and it was in our ears, eyes and nostrils. Some sand I find sticks to you like babyshit to a blanket. It gets partially embedded into your skin and the only way to remove it is by firmly scraping it off with your nails.
Beaches are usually very exposed areas too. In some parts of the world elegant palm trees provide respite from the burning sun but here they don't. Here it's you, the sea and the sun and all the other crap you need at the beach. A hat of course, preferably one that you can strap down quite firmly so the gale forced winds don't steal it from you. Sunglasses. An absolute must. I even wear them in the sea. Yes, I'm that weirdo who looks like they're trying to be posh, but the reality is without them I'm blinded by the glare, and then how the hell will I spot the shark or the crocodile? Beach towels. Two per person. One you lie down on and the other you roll up as a small pillow, beaches are actually very hard and very flat, so this I find helps. You can also use it to cover parts of your body when you hear your skin start to sizzle. And my favourite! Sun screen. Thick, greasy and sticky. And particularly annoying to apply on those windy days.
My hair gets matted. My skin stings from the salt as it dries. And sometimes I have to cross a small desert to get back to the car park, this is when my feet burn in the hot sand. And so I have to hurry, but it's uphill and I'm carrying all this shit and the wind has blown all my hair in my face and the march flies are trying to bite me! I get hot and sweaty all over again, and I long to sit in the car and blast the air conditioner in my face. But first I change out of my bikini next to the car. Man that sucks too. Because as any woman knows, putting a bra onto wet tits and undies onto a wet arse is almost impossible. But I manage. And here's the curious thing! I'll do it all again. Such is the lure of the beach.