Yesterday I took the afternoon off and went to my home beach at Shoreham, West Sussex.
My Dad has a lovely and extremely handy hideaway there, containing a kayak that he kindly allows me to borrow anytime, which makes it the perfect beach destination for me.
I had a rough plan to do some research reading as well as a bit of planning for my increasingly online business (needs must!) in addition to some unashamed sunbathing of course.
As for the kayak, that is my token bit of exercise. Some years ago, my Dad started getting into water sports and is now an expert stand-up paddle-boarder who only bothers to go out when there are proper waves. Most people I know do the opposite and wait for the water to calm down a bit. I would be in that category.
What follows is a lesson I guess in not treating those waves lightly at all….
After warming up sufficiently – and by this I mean eating my lunch in the searing sunshine – not the athletic variety, I waded into the sea, dragging the kayak behind me.
The waves were crashing in pretty violently – much more than I had anticipated.
I persisted however, as one does when there is a large crowd of onlookers – some of whom are minding their own business but a good number are also perking up at a bit of ‘low-level, water-sport-action’ before their very eyes.
In these Covid-19 days of temporary disappearance of spectator sports, people appreciate any kind of entertainment and naturally, I was happy to oblige. The truth is of course, I was desperately trying NOT to think about all those eyes maybe/maybe not watching – I just wanted to get in the kayak and start paddling.
To that end, as soon as one wave had crashed into me, I leap into the kayak and was about to start paddling out when another wave landed a lot faster than I was expecting.
I thought I had straightened the kayak in order to begin pushing through the waves and get out to sea.
Whether it was straight enough or not, this wave came crashing over me with such force that it capsized the kayak. I was thrown out and under the rushing water and quickly stood to my feet.
Once I had got hold of the kayak and paddle, I then realised what I had lost.
And not just any sunglasses. No, these are prescription sunglasses, that I happen to wear all the time when the sun is out. Without them I can’t see well enough to drive. I was wearing them in order to enjoy the views once I got out into the water – as well as to ensure I paddled back to where I had come from!
Of course, one of my first thoughts concerning the aforementioned ‘sport-starved spectators’ was that not only had I failed spectacularly to get past the breaking waves but that were thinking how I was stupid enough to wear sunglasses whilst doing it.
I tried staring into the water in a vain attempt to spot the sunglasses but as anyone knows, it is almost impossible to find something once it has disappeared into the not-so-deep depths, due to the constant rushing up and down of the waves.
A very kind man came down from his front row seat and began doing the same as me. We chatted and I acknowledged that this really was a needle in a haystack situation.
After five minutes or so of searching, I told him I was going to take the kayak out and confessed that a new prescription and subsequent new sunglasses was way overdue anyway.
Whilst out on the water, I focussed on the task at hand – paddling out to the buoy which is about half a mile away from the shore – and then turn round and head back. Sure enough, I did not return to the point where I began but I wasn’t too far out.
During my return, I was literally praying, “Dear Lord Jesus, I know You can find those sunglasses for me. Please get them back to me somehow.”
I believe it is possible to pray such a request – even if there is a big part of you that is slowly but surely resigning yourself to the inevitable reality of disappointment. I’ve been there before when I had a bag stolen right from under my nose in the middle of Brighton but I will have to relay that tale another time.
As soon as I had hauled the kayak back up the beach to where I was located, I began to realise how urgently I was going to need a replacement pair of sunglasses. I had an idea where some even older ones might be hiding at home but knew that I would need to organise some new ones pretty soon.
(You can see how tricky the waves were but this photo doesn’t do them justice)
I tried to get the number for Brighton Specsavers but my phone was not up to the task of firing up any results from Google, and I couldn’t find any emails I may have had from them in the past.
I gave up and simply tried to enjoy the sunshine and examine the potentially large bruise that would surely be emerging across my right shin. I had another cut on my right elbow but after submerging that under the water, the bleeding had stopped.
Then something very strange happened. I received an automated text message from Specsavers. I honestly do not know if that was coincidental or if nowadays, all you have to do is type in a company and regardless of whether you make it to their website, they get an alert that you’re trying to find them and they send out a text message.
Either way, I did not have to wait too long before I was booking an appointment for next week to get my way overdue eye test and some new sunglasses.
I settled back into some more reading and two hours went by very comfortably.
There were quite a few young children nearby, making a lot of noise, so I decided to put my headphones in and listen to some music.
Thankfully, I had my eyes open when one of the mothers of said children approached me with something in her hand…
I paused the music and took my headphones off just in time to hear her ask, “Are these your sunglasses?”
“Oh my goodness, yes they are! Where did you find them?” I gasped with pure delight.
She relayed to me that she had seen them on her way back up from the water, tried them on and instantly realised they were prescription glasses. (Trust me, whenever anyone tries on my glasses, they can feel like they have been injected with LSD, the prescription is so strong!)
Two other women had spotted her looking at the glasses and told her that, “That man over there in the pink shorts lost a pair of sunglasses earlier.” (This is where pink shorts come in handy.)
And that is how my sunglasses made it back to me.
Imagining as I did right there and then, that my sunglasses could talk, they might have said to me, “I was lost but now I’m found.”
To which I would have replied, “I was blind but now I see!”