Continuing our Everyday Adventure Series, we hear from story-teller, adventurer and net-positive artist, Soraya Abdel-Hadi, as she makes a journey back to the ocean after almost a year away. Read on for a dose of vitamin sea...
Words & Photography by Soraya Abdel-Hadi | @sorayaearth
There have been so many times over the last 18 months that I have lamented my lack of access to water. Just like for so many others, the COVID lockdowns shut down my regular journeys to expansive water from home. To fill the void my Labradoodle (Rory, who is possibly more obsessed with water than me) and I sought out local lakes, rivers and hidden streams. Some days we made do with puddles. When restrictions were eased enough to cross county lines, we were joined by my mum and headed for the coast to soak in the vitamin sea on the move, from clifftops, headlands and many, many steps on the South West Coast Path. It was a much needed top up in an expanse of sea-less same-ness.
But this week marks the beginning of a new era of everyday adventures for us all - ‘freedom day’ has finally arrived. When I was lucky enough to be invited on a trip to Devon with a friend, I didn’t ask anything about it at all. I knew I’d be near the sea and that’s all that mattered. Packing, though, turned out to be trickier than I remembered. It’s been such a long time that I almost had forgotten how to do it. There were some things missed; ocean-friendly suncream was one of the casualties of my haphazard packing style, as were a second pair of shorts. It’s the hottest week of the year so far, but don’t worry I remembered my big woolly jumper.
On our first full day, it was time to visit the ocean after tantalising glimpses from the car on the journey in. Packing had been simplified, just by the fact that I could only choose from the things that had made the original cut.
- A towel, underwear and my one pair of shorts were a must for post swim, because how could I not go in the sea after so long (forgot my towelling robe but oh well).
- Some non-marine-safe suncream for after swimming application was added last minute. I’d usually apply marine-safe suncream beforehand but I can’t get it in a supermarket (allergies - yay).
- Water to drink, of course.
- Flip flops for the beach, as we were walking in wearing trainers.
- A picnic blanket to sit on.
- (Steampunk) wooden sunglasses which are possibly the most trendy thing I own.
- Art materials in my Sendak Artists Roll and my Startbay sketchbook.
- Phosphorescence, my current read.
- Essential COVID supplies of a mask and hand sanitiser.
- Keys, bank card and ID.
- All of this fit comfortably into my Millican 25l Maverick backpack, which I bought over two years ago.
Companion on the trail
Smith the Roll Pack (25L) has literally ‘got your back’. It’s deceptively simple and lightweight, allowing you to travel further for longer. Geared towards life on the move, from the mountain trail to the city commute, we’ve added discreet pockets for essentials such as your laptop (up to 15"), waterbottle and valuables.
It was a short walk to St Mary’s Bay from where we parked the car and although the beach had a few people on it where we entered at the bottom of the 100 steps down, a two-minute walk to the other end of the beach provided us with our own beautiful uninterrupted slice of Devon coast. It stayed quiet where we made beach camp for our entire visit - with just the occasional canine visitor fresh out of the sea and newly joining bobbing yachts on the horizon. We had chosen to visit in the morning to avoid the hottest part of the day, but the contrast between the air temperature and the sea still had us gasping and exclaiming, while we simultaneously inched deeper until being immersed to our necks was inevitable. We trod water with nature enveloping us - water hugging our bodies, sea horizon behind us, beach in front and plant-swathed cliffs in our peripheral vision. I felt like I was at home again - back in the water. Then jellyfish joined us. After cautiously examining three different types in the water around us, we decided that perhaps it was time to invest in some of our other beach activities of art and reading.
We left as the beach started to get busier and the temperature continued to rise, feeling smug in our early start. This sort of simple everyday adventure is one that I hope to recreate more of over the rest of the summer. Sea water has made a re-entry into my life and I’m going to gather as many ocean moments as I can.