Thursday, 27 November 2008

Skywatch - Friday 28 November 2008

We tend to think the sun never shines in the UK but it does, occasionally! When it does, the skies are beautiful and when the wind is from the west, it's a fantastic place to be.

Although last summer was one of the worst I can ever remember (I can remember quite a few), the sun did shine a few times, the skies were blue and on 9 June I captured the evidence below.

This is part of the beach at Seaham Harbour in the North East of England. As beaches go it wouldn't win any prizes, but I like it. I love walking in the water along a beach, any beach, anywhere really, I don't mind. Although I like living in Washington and it's only a twenty minute drive to a few beaches, I miss not living next to the sea.

I lived in Seaham until I got married in 1969 and now it seems to me that when I was little, we spent most of the summer on that beach. The summers were longer and hotter, the days were sunnier and the beach was definitely cleaner. Well I said that's how it seems to me.

The beach certainly got dirtier because the coal dust from the pits in the area was dumped it into the sea. Eventually as coal production increased the sand got blacker and the water got dirtier. Not a pretty sight!

Dawdon was one of several pits in Seaham, it was sunk in 1905 and employment grew to 3,300 with an output of 1 million tons in its heyday. It was closed in 1991 a few years after the 1984/85 miners' strike.

All the pits are long gone now, courtesy of Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative Government. The loss of the industry hit places like Seaham really hard. My great grandad, both my granddads, my Dad, all my uncles and my brother worked at Dawdon Pit. The area has never recovered despite the development of new industrial estates.

(Dawdon) "...suffers from severe deprivation, with many
households surviving on welfare benefits, poor health, poor educational attainment and significant child poverty."
Dawdon Community Appraisal

On the plus side there has been a lot of work done redeveloping the area. In addition the sand is clean again and the water is much cleaner. However the sea seems a whole lot colder than when I was young!

Beach top car park

They have been doing a lot of work to improve the area at the top of the beach. I think the designer of this wall must have been having a bit of a Gaudi moment. I really like it.

Is this a sea monster?

The church on the left of the picture is St Mary the Virgin. It's an Anglo Saxon church dating back to 7th Century. It's supposed to be one of the 20 oldest churches in the country. To my shame I've never visited it. Something I must do this summer and I'll take my camera, if it's allowed!

Why not join us at Skywatch Friday and post your photos? We'd love to see them.