There is always salt in the air, it’s that distinct smell you notice when you arrive at the coast. I love the pureness of it. My favourite feeling is stepping off the train from London and taking a deep breath of the freshest, cleanest air. Those big, bright, clear skies that you only find by the sea. The kind of wind that feels like it clears your entire body out. 7 miles of sandy beach and, on a normal day, only a handful of people to share it with. These are my favourite parts of living in Camber.
But this is an English coastal village and owning a dog – especially a dog like mine – means, regardless of the weather, you always have to go out. Coastal weather can be unpredictable, and it is important to make sure that I am always prepared for 4 seasons in one dog walk. Combining that with a windy day – we get plenty of those – and going up and down the sand dunes, everything comes back with a layer of salt and sand.
This certainly has an impact on the clothing and footwear I use on the beach as it always requires more cleaning. Because I rely on my gear so much, I make sure I use a technical cleaner like Nikwax Tech Wash® and Footwear Cleaning Gel, so I’m not replacing jackets and shoes every year. The years BN, or ‘before Nikwax’, I used to notice my footwear falling apart: leaking, jackets letting water through, and zips stiffening after just one winter. Both the combination of salt and using regular detergents would speed up the degrading of the fabrics and components. The added bonus of using Nikwax cleaners is that you rarely get caught in the rain with leaking jackets. Often a wash revamps the waterproofing of my coat and if it does ever start to ‘wet out’, a quick wash and re-proof with TX.Direct® does the trick.
The same goes for my running trainers. I am lucky to have some beautiful run routes on my doorstep; from the promenade along the sea defence, the beach itself, and a huge golf course on the western side of the village. This means lots of different terrain to manage, so I have both road and trail shoes and both get equally as dirty! Dusty in the summer and muddy in the winter, alongside the running shoe stink from sweat! I use Footwear Cleaning Gel and Fabric & Leather Proof on my waterproof trail shoes and Sandal & Sports Shoe Wash on the road (non-waterproof) trainers. This keeps them in top condition, breathable, and comfortable as I get the miles in.
We’re an active family. Alongside the dog walking and running, we regularly jump in the sea for a swim. In all honesty, we are quite fair-weather swimmers, but we do take an annual Christmas Day swim – or surf if we are lucky with the waves – and there’s nothing quite like celebrating the start of a new year with a New Year’s Day dip! Autumn and winter swims are so invigorating, building up the courage to get in is the hard part, but it is always so worth it. We found the dry bag from the Nikwax Outdoor Complete Protection Kit is great for stashing valuables whilst you’re in the water and then, in turn, to hold your wet swimwear afterwards.
Living in this little coastal village can sometimes feel very isolated and certainly has its downsides. You get used to washing your windows and cars more often to keep the salt off, the constant battle against sand in your house, especially after a windy day (and having a dog that loves to run in the shallows on the beach), or the difficulty keeping a garden thriving with the salty air, harsh elements and lack of rain in the warmer months. But, as long as I can wrap up warm and stay dry, you will always find me on the beach – even on the wildest days in the middle of winter. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.