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We're Having a Heat Wave - Time for The Beach.

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
This week I am very happy for a number of reasons. Firstly, my first born has gone on holiday with his mates and I am free of his Friday night washing load for the first time since November. Hurray!  The second reason for feeling happy is that the weather here has been remarkably warm and sunny for this time of year. I had been worried. I have written off the first two weeks of June, due to a regularly occurring phenomenon that I have unilaterally named 'English Monsoon.'  My third reason to be cheerful was caused by a combination of the two previously mentioned: I had booked a two day 'get away from it all' that has paid dividends in both the time well spent and incredibly 'close encounters of the David Attenborough kind' that I look forward to sharing with you all soon.
Today's order of business, (no - it is not the unusually informal attire worn by Her Majesty at the State Opening of Parliament - as she read out a very watered down Queen's Speech - on behalf of her minority government  - with a certain bored air of "One has done this 64 times before and just like the McCartney song, it is not one of the best one has ever heard."), is The Beach. This is great timing too  - I want to share news of wonderful new exhibitions at The Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool between now and 12th August. The gallery is ablaze with bright sea-side stripes, with a show entitled LOVE LIFE, ACT II by Emma Hart and Jonathan Baldock. The work features jovial textiles, hilarious ceramics and more than a little seaside sauce. There is a film screening, an exhibition of Punch and Judy puppets from the gallery's own archive, with added surprises. It is a joy for children of all ages. 
Hold on a moment - there's more. Upstairs at The Grundy is a candid 1970's retro show, by photographer Shirley Baker, entitled 'On The Beach'. The work juxtaposes two sets of photographs taken five years apart. It is well worth the stair climb - I promise. I enjoyed my own visit so much that I have shaken on a deal with the new curator to have another of our much loved Dead Good Poets writing workshops at the gallery very soon. Our responses to the Mark Leckey exhibition were very well received by the archivists at The Southbank Centre - so I hope that we will have a great turn out for this event. I spoke with artist Emma Hart and she was delighted with the idea. We will post details here, on Twitter and also on our Lancashire Dead Good Poets' Society's Facebook page, as soon as a date/time is finalised.
My poem this week was written in Calpe, Costa Blanca in 2009. There are two beautiful beaches there; the Levante beach is in a sheltered cove, towered over by the Iffac, a large rock full of nesting sea birds; the other beach is a long stretch of soft sand, overseen by a long promenade, dotted withed lovely shops and bars. When I visit, II like to sit with a strong coffee, on a white sofa, at mid-afternoon siesta time, watching the scene and making note for a later work. Let me take you there...
We're having a heat wave  - time for The Beach.
Beach Parade

Rows and rows of polka dot and pinstripe parasols
parade along the sand along the bay.
Yellow, red and turquoise blue,
greens of every tone and hue,
zig-zags, checks, diagonals in each and every way.
Bathers shaded from the heat, sand filled toes on naked feet,
towels strewn like postcards through the door.
Deep cerise with orange stripe,
lime and lemon, citrus ripe.
Bodies baking, dipping, dripping, diving from the rocks around the shore.
Children run and splash and scream. Toddlers chuckle,
melting ice-cream drips on sand,
berry blush and almond cream,
choc mint chip or strawberry dream,
A cornet filled with tastes of summer tightly held in hand.
Roaring surf, silver spray, swirling currents in the bay,
seagulls call and soar across the blue.
Surfers sway with sun-kissed locks,
time moves slowly round the clocks.
Music drifts.   And Fades.
And so we sleep and hour.   Or two.
Our senses store the memories of holidays beside the sea,
We soak them up and pocket them away.
Bronzing skin, beaching hair,
baking sand and salt-filled air.
Sensations on a postcard: A place we can escape to on a dark, cold rainy day.
Thanks for reading. Now get out there and enjoy the sunshine.   Adele  
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