When I first saw a huge expanse of water, I screamed and ran the other way – at least that’s the way my parents tell it. It wasn’t the best start for the water baby I later became. For me, nothing beats being close to the water, whether it’s to swim in it, look at it or enjoy the sound it makes. Whether it’s burbling or crashing, I find the sound of running water not only soothing, but inspirational. It encourages reflection, calms the mind and just makes me feel good. Here are a few of my favorite watering holes.
Concord Falls, Grenada
I don’t remember how long it took me to walk up the hill to Concord Falls. I was staying in the village of Concord and we set out one morning after breakfast to make the trek into the hills. I have no idea how what the distance was – but we seemed to be walking for miles, first up the winding road then through the bushes until I thought my legs would give out. Finally we rounded a corner and there was a small waterfall, splashing into what looked like a cool, green pool. I dived straight in, and almost immediately shot out again – it was freezing! Up in the mountains, the temperatures were more like a cool spring evening than a Caribbean summer day. I soon got used to it and relaxed, enjoying the constant splashing. This is just one of the many things to do in Grenada; it’s on the list of places I’d like to return to one day.
The Mediterranean, Nice, Cannes, France
The Med is not typically what you think of as a restful place. For someone used to Caribbean beaches, the beach at Nice isn’t even that great (too many rocks, ugh!). But you can’t beat it for sheer grandeur. Being able to stare across the ocean and see nothing else in front of you, or gaze into the murky blue depths, has its attractions. The first time I visited Nice (in the middle of a year in France), it was early in the year, before the tourist hordes had descended. It was relatively quiet and I was able to sit in the sun and stare out towards the horizon.
Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottingham, England
This is one natural attraction on my doorstep that I actually appreciated. The Attenborough Nature Reserve stretches for several miles through Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, near the River Trent. It looks like a large lake, but isn’t, and the tops of trees rise from the middle of the water. A winding path takes you all along the reserve, where you can see ducks, swans and other birds – lots of them.
Dotted around the reserve are wooden benches that blend in with the scenery – those were my favorite place to sit and think. One of my strongest memories of the place, though, was not at all restful. We were walking our dog, Jodie, who was getting on a bit and turning a bit deaf, when, as always she jumped into the water. The only problem was, she was heading for the trees in the middle and couldn’t hear us calling her back. It seemed the louder we called, the harder she swam – and we were just thinking about a rescue operation when, to our relief, she turned around and headed back to shore. Phew!
Browne’s Beach, Barbados
Forget about Sandy Lane – this is the best beach in Barbados, in my book. A few miles of pristine white sand, clear blue water and a few trees. What I like about this location, apart from the water, is that it’s a beach that the locals use. Go early in the morning and you will see people from the area standing around in the sea chatting with their neighbors. Go a little later and the exercise buffs come out to walk or run before taking a refreshing dip. Even when there are lots of people there, the beach is hardly ever crowded, so it’s easy to find a quiet spot to sit and people watch. Life doesn’t get much better.