Christmas at Kenton

There is something magical about the beach and the sea, which no heart is untouched by.

The salty smell in the air, the feel of sand grains between your toes, the soft caress of sunlight on your face and the wind that whips your hair into a frenzy.

I cannot feign imperviousness, even though I grew up on the Kenyan coast and should have had my fill of the coastal phenomenon. And so the sight of Kenton with its sandy beaches and topaz waters from the car window was enough to make me flutter. My excitement was however quickly overshadowed by the enthused cries of “Water, water” from my young niece; a real water baby.

The grey clouds that had made the drive to Kenton misty and wet began to disappear as we drive into Kenton and the golden sun peeked out from behind silver tipped clouds. Nature was decked in its finest jewellery.

We were the beneficiaries of a day that had started dully, and while the heavy clouds had kept others at home we basked in the enjoyment of a relatively solitary beach experience.

Kenton was perfect that day in keeping with the reputation of the Eastern Cape as the Sunshine coast, and I was not surprised that it had been voted one of the best in the world.

We ambled down the crescent shaped beach to the promontory, stopping to admire clusters of seaweed, shoals of little fish swimming in the shallow pools formed by the incoming tide, and the scuttling crabs and long legged creatures carrying their shell houses on their backs who were foraging for food.

We spread our beach blanket out just before the overhanging ridge of rock, hoping to benefit from some shade.

Munching on Lay’s salted crisps – somehow the salty flavour of sea air always provokes a craving for salty food – we looked out beyond the gap in the land through which the sea rushed into this picturesque and sheltered cove. Our makeshift beach hats – fashioned from white muslin tea towels – fluttered in the breeze and did their best to protect our reddening skin from the sun’s rays.

On our way back to the car and a chicken sandwich lunch, we saw a fishing boat anchored right at the edge of the beach only then realising how the placid blue waters had masked a sharp drop in the sea bed, allowing mid sized boats to moor right along the beach.

On the drive home, we passed through the town of Salem. A small rural town in the Eastern Cape, it is very English and has its own country club. In truth, it is probably little more than a glorified crossroad – the kind you would miss if you blinked – but its glorious green landscapes make up for any negative association to an American town of the same name.

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