On a family trip today I came across a humble arrangement of two bouquets of flowers; wilting and bare, contrasting in colours, tied to the seaward side of a public footpath sign on Talacre beach (Flintshire, North Wales). The location seems isolated, even desolate, but it is perhaps the most prominent location on the entire beach. The situation is close to the car park and the footpath sign is itself a ‘draw’, allowing walkers to navigate to the beach and back. More significant still, the lighthouse attracts walkers and paddlers all year round and is a natural focus for foot traffic.
What is the story here? As with any beach, there are many dangers from tides and sands. Do these flowers commemorate someone who drowned in the water, or perished on the beach? The internt tells me of a tragic event 7 years ago at a nearby caravan Or might they represent the vestigates of an ash-scattering ceremony at this beautiful if windswept location at the northern tip of Flintshire? There were no cards or other textual memorials to give a clue. Was this the actual focus of a tragedy or death, or is it simply the most practical locus for a memorial to be appended to a public landmark?
I’ve blog about Talacre before here. Clearly beaches are ever-changing landscapes with few fixed points for reference and navigation, making them challenging memorial environments. Memorial benches are often utilised to commemorate in these environments, when there is a promenade, as discussed here and also here. Yet as places of death, mourning and commemoration, we should consider how some individuals and groups negotiate the foreshore to make ephemeral tributes to those they’ve lost.