In the whole Northern hemisphere, Great Britain has the worst summer. Its summer is so bad that the name itself loses that meaning that other people in the rest of the world assign to it. Naturally, the way of living the sea and the beach is profoundly different from what is normally expected.
These pictures that I took over a few years show the different way the Britons live their sea and beaches. Visually the first thing that I notice is their use of shelters (tents) for the cold wind and of warm and colourful clothing. Practically, the sea is not a place to seek refreshment during the hot season, but just another type of outdoor environment, with its characteristics that make it different from the countryside.
Always swim between the red and yellow flags Due to dangerous sea conditions, and to the excess of monitoring built in the English mind-set, at the beach it is only allowed to swim between two flags, each colored in yellow and red. Sunderland, England. Bronica SQ-A, Portra 400
Whitley Bay, England – August 14, 2012: the cold weather and overcast sky conditions make the way the English can “enjoy” the sea during summer rather unique in the Northern Emisphere. August 15th is the famous Ferragosto in Italy and a celebration of summer in many European countries, however in England you dress warm for the cold and with vivid colours for the darkness. Camping tents are a useful shelter against the strong cold winds.
Blackhall Colliery, England – March 10, 2010: situated in County Durham, the beach (Blackhall beach) of this small village offers a nice view of the sea. Lacking proper areas with sand, people usually travel there by car and often use the cars themselves as a viewing point, due to cold weather. Bronco SQ-A, Zenzanon PS 150mm lens on 120-B&W film
Whitley Bay, September 2012: the unusually decent weather calls quite a few people on the beach. Still, being colder than in the rest of the world, people have to be dressed in order to enjoy the beach. The quantity of colours is amazing. Canon EOS 1n, EF 70-200 f/4L IS, Provia 100F
No bright sunlight, just a photographically pleasant shade
Looking at the sunset – obviously the sunset is behind, but the beautiful dusk colours are everywhere. Northeastern England, late Summer 2012. Two people onshore and one kajakying in the sea.
Tynemouth – May 2012: to the already miserable cold weather typical of the area, this late day of May also brings a very thick fog/mist on the beach. Bathers mix with local tourists attracted by the weird weather conditions. Canon EOS 1n, adapted Nikkor AI-S 50/1.2, Kodak Professional Tri-X 400
Port Talbot, Wales – July 2009: it is a beach but definitely not sunny, colorful,relaxing beach like it is normally intended when people think of summer vacations: Port Talbot is an industrial town and the industry has transformed the landscape. The sand is often char-coloured and big cranes crowd the horizon. One surfer is heading towards the sea. Fuji S3
Sunderland, August 2012: After a storm, the light conditions change the normal colour saturation of the scene: the sand appears almost as pink as the dress of one of the ladies in the centre of the roundabout. A car and a cyclist (with the usual ugly but useful yellow high-visibility vest) also arrive onto the scene immediately after the rain clears. The Roker pier is visible in the background. Bronica SQ-A, Zenzanon PS 80/2.8, Portra 400
At the beginning of August, when in the rest of the Northern Emisphere, in the world, people enjoy warm summers, this (fog and cold) is the typical scene in England (Sunderland). Summer 2012. Portra 400
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, September 2011: missing the chance of going to any proper beach, inhabitants of Newcastle replace the sea with their river, and add some sand on the sidewalks of Quayside. The photo depicts several people sunbathing in a rare sunny day.
Sunderland, July 2012: a large crowd gathers at the seafront (Roker beach) during the International Air Show. Ektar 100
The Mumbles, Swansea Bay, Wales, United Kingdom. Surfers near the shore reenter from a day in the water. Fuji S3
Tynemouth, England – June 26, 2011: this notoriously cold beach in Tyneside does not attract too many sunbathers. On this rare sunny day a few people attempt the outdoors and share the view with two commercial ships in the distance.