A bungalow by the sea

Sea mist hangs over the rutted, ploughed fields. It hangs between the long line of poplar trees and the narrow dirt track that leads from the bungalows, through the dunes to the beach. Down there, looking out to sea, visibility is perhaps fifty metres at most. Waves roll through the mist, the world enveloped in grey, the air damp and chilly.

Most of the bungalows that stand in this colony beneath the poplar trees during the days of the German Democratic Republic. They are in varying states of repair, some peeling and flaky as if the last substantial work was done during the socialist era, whilst others are mini-palaces complete with satellite dishes and fine collections of cheerful garden gnomes.

Our bungalow is small, but it feels smaller than it is because it is so packed. All around us are the artefacts of a hundred family holidays; buckets and spades for when the weather is fine, board games and cards for when the rain drums against the corrugated roof. The plates and cups are mismatched, migrated to the coast from the family apartments where they had been replaced by newer, cleaner and less chipped dinner sets.

How many memories are hanging around in this garden? It feels like a happy place, lived in and loved. A refuge beneath the trees, three hours from the city and a stone’s throw from the beach. An escape from the mundane, the routine and the everyday. Sometimes when we come up here I feel like I am intruding on a family’s memories, even when they are not around. But over time, and with each visit, we add our own memories to the bungalow and the garden and the dirt track down to the beach.

Words and pictures: Paul Scraton

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