A dear friend has asked me to pass on information relating to the completely gorgeous Beacon House in Whitstable which she says is available to hire at the moment. I have stayed here several times and always found it to be a special place of calm beauty, whether for company away-days, shoots, retreats, or holiday breaks. In fact, it was here that I stayed for a week to heal up in 2002, and I have still-sweet memories of stretching my bruised body in the morning sun, wandering barefoot on the warm decking, drinking in the art on the walls, the jewel colours of a local craftsman's mosaics discovered under my feet, the flowers and birdsong everywhere; the wood behind, the sound of the sea twenty feet before me. Walking outside Beacon House, (which looks like it has been transplanted from New England, with its huge wooden veranda, arts and crafts tongue in groove work and decking) you will find the faded pastels of the lines of beach huts on the shingled shore, and you can tramp down the coast road listening to wheeling sea gulls circling in the huge wildness of the sky. On your return to Beacon House, you can devour tea and scones by an open fire , or on a fine day, feast in the garden on the local oysters barbequed til their shells pop open. Cooking oysters this way is special: the taste of the sea, smoked. The balance of fire and water. Elemental pleasures. I remember salt on my lips from hot chips eaten on the beach by starlight, a shivering morning dip in the sea, sunsets that Turner could have captured. I read this poem out loud to myself once, on the verandah, as the moon rose, saying it under my breath as the sea boomed and shushed, as the night fell, as the last walkers returned home to their fires.
If you can, go. Or if you know someone who you think would like it, please pass it on.
The sea is calm to-night.The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; -on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in...
And if you are a painter, or photographer, or you want to shoot a fashion story, I recommend it, especially during the winter: the light is something else.