Mid morning, the sun is hot. The basalt of the upper beach is dry and blue. Lower down the rock pools are being filled by an incoming tide. The beach is busy with people washing; their clothes, then themselves.

Near the village, high up the beach, children play in pools which the community use as a washing place. There are flat and smooth rocks here, ideal for scrubbing clothes on: taller textured rocks for whipping sodden soapy garments against. The pools are deep - ideal for rinsing clothes in. The clean smell of soap rises on the sea breeze as I pass by.

Children gather at the pools. Working as a team, they move slowly along the beach turning over stones, looking for ‘treasure,’ sharing their finds as they make them.

A girl on her own, perhaps eleven years old, has washed her lime green tunic and spread it between two boulders to dry in the sun. She walks to a small pool, sits down on the beach and begins to wash herself. Working methodically she scrubs her calves, heels and the soles of her feet with what could be a chunk of polystyrene. Taking of her salwas she searches for a flat washing rock. She has a clear plastic container of soap in solution. Pouring from the vessel she captures the liquid in the folds of her garment then needs and squeezes the green textile against the rock. Once clean the garment is rinsed, wrung out then spread in the sun to dry next to her tunic.

The band of smaller children has moved further down the beach to shallow but broad pools lying at the bottom of gently sloping rocks. The water is soapy, the rock too, a combination that makes a perfect water slide. Their wet bodies glisten in the sun, white soles of their feet flashing as the children slither down the slide head first then spinning round on their bellies as they reach the bottom.

The soapy rock makes it precarious play and one small boy slips and hurts himself. His sister, a little older than he, lifts him up and takes him away from the play. Sitting him down she works her way along each limb in turn, searching out the wound, assessing its severity, before carefully walking him back to the pool. Two women appear on the scene. They let out a shout. All the children stop their activity, stand up and listen. Gathering up their clothes, they move off as a group. Stragglers are hurried up by the two women, their washing checked over, soap pots collected. Some of the washing party are chastised for being slow or careless.

It seems that this group of children is learning to take care of themselves, learning to take responsibility for their own welfare as well as that of others while still finding time to explore and play. Valuable lessons.

Cinque Terre
Mountains and fjords
Northern Lights
Nature and sunrise
Snowy Mountains