English Riviera feels like a world of space and opportunity

Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, retains its internationally recognised Blue Flag

Meadfoot beach last week was simply stunning - Credit: English Riviera BID Company

I feel so grateful that I am able to call such a beautiful part of the world my home.

During lockdown, every local friend and acquaintance I spoke to, whether from across a road or thanks to technology, said the same thing: “We are so lucky to live here.”

I’ve met a lot of visitors to the Bay at work in the past couple of weeks, and seen this pretty, peaceful place through their eyes.

Their admiring words made me feel even more blessed.

We are immersed in nature in Torbay, so we’re perfectly placed to witness the rebirth that seems to be happening after a time of unprecedented dormancy.

The abundance of red campion in the hedgerows, the lack of litter - disposable masks not withstanding: please make sure you put them into a dustbin, our wildlife thanks you- on the beaches, the volume and energy in the dawn chorus: everything just seems to be that little bit more alive and enthusiastic than it has in a long, long time.

Have you noticed it? To me it feels like hope. 

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Walking around Roundham and along Goodrington and out in the gardens at home and at work, everything around me seems to be at peace.

Even the seagulls, who have had to return to finding their food in nature, look healthier - so it’s now up to all of us to help them stay that way. 

My mum is a gifted gardener. I haven’t inherited her natural flair, but I am learning: something I have wanted to do for years, but haven’t felt well enough to really focus on until now.

Simply immersing my hands in soil seems to lower my anxiety level, and watching the flowers and fruits we have planted emerge brings a welcome sense of wonder.

Waiting to see what has sprung to life overnight gives me something to look forward to each morning, and having spent time living in India and Australia I know how lucky I am to have easy access to the water I need to keep the garden, and myself, alive.

When I moved back to the Bay from London, it felt small.

I used to take regular trips back to visit friends and galleries.

Over time my desire to do that faded away: friends would come this way on holiday, and on one occasion I returned from a trip to realise that I was more inspired sitting and watching the patterns and colours in the sea and sky than I had been inside a building looking at famous pieces of art.

Post lockdown, our English Riviera feels like a world of space and opportunity to me.

Meadfoot beach last week was simply stunning: clear water, fresh air, a gorgeous little cafe, blue skies, so much sea and space: just bliss.

I know that a simple realigning of the stars could have placed me in a life so much less fortunate, in a place where it’s difficult for anything to grow, and where even the most basic pleasures in life are luxuries.

It’s easy to tell ourselves to appreciate the simple things: a conversation with a friend, the scent of a flower, the feeling of wet sand or grass beneath our feet, going to bed each night with a glass of water beside us and without fear, knowing we have food in the fridge for breakfast tomorrow, but really these things aren’t simple at all, they are incredible. 

Maybe take a few moments this weekend to write down some of the everyday things that make you feel grateful, and then commit to noticing and appreciating them over the coming week.

And, if you’re feeling both grateful and generous, perhaps consider a donation to your nearest food bank or to a charity like The Thrive Project in Paignton, to help a fellow citizen of the Bay who is currently less fortunate to experience the simple pleasures that most of us enjoy every single day.