Monday, 27 August 2012

Leisure space

After a day of inertia I decided to go for a bike ride. Neither of the tyres on the bike I've been using so far would inflate to the right pressure. I tried the other bike, but discovered that the frame was too small to be a comfortable ride for someone my height, but as its tyres were sound and the right size, I decided to swap the wheels over, and deal with repairing tyres at leisure. I've not had much experience at fixing bikes. We couldn't afford one when I was young, so I bought my first second hand bike when I was an undergraduate with a proper grant and a scholarship, back in the good ol' days of state education. To my surprise, the wheel swap-over went without incident, so I rode the coastal path to Les Cases d'Alcanar and back in a pleasant evening breeze - nothing too challenging, an 18km round trip, but it left me more tired than I expected. That's what happens when regular exercise slips down the priority list.
It's hard to imagine this vast long beach ever being full of people. I wonder if there may be a particular class of holiday makers that doesn't want sandy beaches, with their miles of sun-shades and frenetic youthful activities, preferring, rather than getting sand in their eyes? 

Over the weekend, I came across a BBC news article about an Italian sandy beach resort of Riviera Romagnola on the northern Adriatic coast between Ravenna and Rimini where there are 140,000 beach umbrellas in 110km. People go there not to swim - the water isn't that pleasant - but to socialise and amuse themselves. It made me think of Peñíscola, but that's altogether more classy, and the sea is nice to swim in. Many holidaymakers come from densely packed high rise cities to an equally packed seaside. It seems to be their precondition for having a good time.

I remember once looking at pictures of people cross country skiing with Laura my Italian secretary. Photos of the northern Alps portrayed individuals and small groups making their ways in the vast outdoors. One photo of the Italian Alps showed a huge crowd of skiers all starting off at the same time, and it wasn't a race. I remarked on it, and Laura commented "Well, that's just how we like it to be."  It takes all sorts to make a world. Others like to have space, to spread out for their recreation and bunch up only with those whom they choose to be with. I guess that's where pebbly beaches and vast snowy wildernesses come into their own. 

Interesting to reflect that the semitic origins of the word 'comfort' means 'to make space for'.

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