|A figure from Another Place on Crosby Beach, near Liverpool, England|
(Photo by Andrew Dunn)
Noun. Mid-16th century.
[Origin uncertain: perhaps identical with Old English bæce, bece brook, stream, with transf. meaning '(pebbly) river valley',
surviving in many place-names as Sandbach, Wisbech]
1. The water-worn pebbles of the seashore;
sand and shingle. arch. M16
2. The sandy or pebbly shore of the sea, a lake, or a large river;
esp. that part lying between high- and low-water marks. L16
When I read beach in the OED, I was little bit surprised that the word is (probably) Old English in origin. Britain isn't famous for its beaches, and we roundly aspire to abandon them yearly for the beaches of Spain, Portugal and France. Both Britain and Ireland, however, have exceptionally beautiful beaches and coastline, something that is often overlooked by both those visiting and those living here. Granted, the mercurial weather doubtless puts many off, but this can be part of the beauty - leaden clouds rumbling overhead in late Autumn, filling you with a sense of awe and insignificance before the might of nature, or the sharp snap of a Spring breeze around your shoulders that makes you laugh and pull your collar in. And of course, yes, if you visit in Summer, you might just be lucky enough to find a day on the beach that allows you to peel off your woollen jumper and strut around, Copacabana-style, in just a t-shirt, jeans and boots.