A Day at the Seaside

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Down here in the capital, a warm sunny day is a treasured and sought after occurrence. Believe it or not, Wellington is the windiest city in the world, windier than even Chicago, and more often than not that wind is accompanied by heavy rain and intense cloud cover, as well as the odd thunder and lightning storm.

Don't get me wrong, most of the time I don't mind the crappy weather - after all, any excuse to sit inside with a hot cuppa, a solid book and a second hand cardigan right? However sometimes, in the depth of Winter when you can't walk to the local bus stop without looking like Krusty the Clown by the time you get there, and you're once beautiful tan olive skin is turning a greenish yellow hue from lack of vitamin d, even the most committed tea-drinking-cardigan-wearing fob will wish for just five minutes of sun, believe me. So of course when we do get the odd sunny day, every Wellingtonian will head out to their favourite local beach for some much needed tanning time: Oriental Bay.

Recently blessed with a series of beautiful sunny days, I have spent a lot of time at Oriental in the past few weeks. Just today, my flatmate and I ventured out for a day of shopping and a swim. Well, I went swimming while Lisa sat on the beach looking too cool in her teashade style sunglasses and vintage jeans, while I crashed through the waves like a beached whale in my itsy bitsy bikini, looking more like a foot soldier storming the beach at Normandy than a chic art student.

Lisa looking suave.
The neat thing about Oriental Bay, is that literally everyone in Wellington swims there. We Wellington residents are an eccentric bunch to say the least, and you can't help but notice the different types of people that live in this city when we all arrive on mass for a day by the seaside. Of course, being an introverted socially awkward 21st century kid with an aptitude for social media and well, not speaking, I hardly ever strike up conversations. What I do love to do is take photos of these Wellingtonians in their natural environment, or better yet, attempt to guess their current lives and back stories. Just today, Lisa and I sat eating ice cream, taking polaroid selfies, and labelling people as they walked past, and pissing ourselves with laughter. My favourite is the middle-aged divorcee, who is obviously going through a midlife crisis (why else would he be wearing capri shorts?). He moved down from Auckland, leaving his middle-aged wife, three children, suburban home and steady office job to be a graphic designer. You've all seen him, wallowing in the shallow waters at the end of the beach, beer belly out with his ice cream in hand, contemplating life's mysteries. Then there's the stoners, smelling of salt with matted braided beards. They sit and play guitar loudly between the family with the young kids, and the group of Asian teenagers playing volleyball, while the beautiful tanned, toned girls frolic along the waters edge.

Oriental Bay has certainly been an iconic Wellington destination for many years. I'm originally from West Auckland, where the beaches are beautiful, but mad and dangerous, and you can't swim without the highly likely chance you'll get pulled out to sea. So to live in a place where the local beach is so calm and peaceful (if you ignore the screaming kids that is), is kinda great. One of my favourite photos of the bay was taken by Brian Brake in 1960. When I showed Lisa, she asked if I had taken it. She has a point, Oriental looks the same as it did more than half a century ago. Steadfast, in the conscious of every Wellingtonian.

One of my favourite photographs by Brian Brake, Oriental Bay (1960).
Until next time babes xx

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