In the later summer of 1937, on one of his quests to induce Hilda to accede to his triangular marriage scheme, Stanley visited Wangford where he and Hilda had spent their honeymoon in 1925. The village is in Sussex,. near the resort of SouthwoldHe had taken the same rooms in Mrs Lambert's cottage there as on his honeymoon, and pressed Hilda to join him. While he waited in hope for her, he began his seaside painting later known as Southwold [repro Google Images <Stanley Spencer>.] But Hilda did not come, and after a few days he gave up and returned to Cookham with the unfinished seascape.

Back in Cookham and setting up in his studio to finish the painting, Stanley's feelings patently got the better of him. He felt compelled to turn what he had begun as a straightforward landscape into an imagined scene with figures, so that now both the landscape and the figures had eternal affinity. The figures he inserted can be interpreted as himself and Hilda in an idealized form as the couple in earnest conversation in the bottom left corner, while Mrs Carline with a duplicate Hilda and companion sit alongside her under a parasol on the other side of the line of drying towels. Does the line of towels imply the psychological barrier which exists between them now? Whether in the painting Stanley is looking back to happier days when he and Hilda spent hours together on the beach in deep metaphysical discussions (the two children on the beach may even be stylised versions of their daughters, Shirin then aged twelve and Unity seven), or whether he is imagining what he hoped would have happened had Hilda turned up to his rendezvous, or indeed whether he is combining elements of the two, who knows? But surely it does not matter in light of the frustration and disappointment he must have felt impelled to depict.

The painting is in fact a hybrid in Stanley's collection, not a fully-observed en plein air Spencer landscape nor yet one of his studio 'visionary' paintings with their shaped figures. But certainly it is a landscape no longer waiting for its figures. It is somewhat ironic that it
remains among the most popular of his sold prints.