Hythe

Chasing the Tide
There is no feeling quite like sitting on a boat, watching the water froth as your vessel cuts through the waves. My preferred mode of transport is definitely by sea.
I went to Hythe today, and took my mother with me. Travelling with her is an exercise in patience, since her punctuality is worse than the White Rabbit’s. On this occasion, however, the bus was also late, so we managed to catch the eleven o’clock sailing.
Chugging across Southampton Water on a small orange boat called Uriah, we could see the speed ferry and the first of the summer yachters heading for the Isle of Wight. The sky was streaked with wisps of cloud, and all around there was that feeling that goes hand in hand with leaving your coat on its hook. The British summer, ever praised but probably fleeting, had arrived.
Hythe Pier boasts that it is the seventh longest in the UK, but despite this rather limp claim to fame, it is quaint and full of Victorian charm. There is even a little green train that chugs from end to end, but we decided to walk over the boards, many of which were engraved with memorials and anniversary dates. My mother insisted that it would be utterly romantic to stroll out onto the pier and be shown a sentimental inscription. I told her she is getting soppy in her old age.
We took a leisurely stroll in the town, admiring the trinkets and knick-knacks on sale in the pristine window displays. We looked out of place in the silver-haired crowd.
Tuesday is market day, so we searched the stalls for treasure. I was tempted to buy a fish for dinner, but settled instead on a locket in the shape of a scallop shell.
If there is one necessity on a summer’s day out, it is a decent lunch. Hythe is a small town but popular with tourists, so there were many eateries to choose from. Torn between The Admiral Nelson and a restaurant called Seashells, we opted for the latter and its ocean view. We trekked upstairs, and the entranceway had a worrying bingo hall aesthetic, but the actual restaurant itself was like a beachside hotel (though the bold colour scheme and fraying décor left something to be desired).
In light of the view, I felt obligated to have seafood, and chose the risotto. My mother settled on the fish pie. We followed the main course with poached pears and ginger ice-cream, all washed down with a pot of peppermint tea.
It was an excellent feast, and we spent a good portion of the afternoon sipping our tea and discussing our family.
Watching the sun dance on the waves, and the gulls chase each other through the wind, I felt that sort of wholesome contentedness that stems from an afternoon relaxing with a loved one.
The tide was heading out as we left, leaving the sand rife with lugworms and the beach clad in swirls of seaweed.
Sometimes I think it is an awful thing to grow up. When I was sixteen there was nothing I wanted more than to become an adult and move out. Now I am an adult, and I am moving out. I wouldn’t change it for the world, but independence comes at a price. On the cusp of living overseas, I realise that there won’t be many more times when I can casually ask my mother if she wants to jettison the housework and come on an adventure.
Gliding back across the water on Great Expectations, the truth was clear to me. Days like this are worth treasuring, and in the future their memory will be like prayer beads. I will keep them close to my heart, and take comfort from their presence.
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