A skylark rises, invisible, like the gentle, irregular whistle of a barely boiling kettle, singing on the hob. A good day to be a skylark. The merlins and sparrowhawks will be flummoxed by the clammy sea-mist that’s swirling in the air, like steam from that same celestial kettle that’s powering the songster.
This is the beach of my childhood memories, the ridged sand underfoot, the sea a distant, unfulfilled promise.
We park on the hard sand and stand, taking in the mysterious world around us. Well, mysterious except for the football-kicking boys behind us – but they’re soon lost to view.
A seagull’s garish cry is the loudest noise around, the mist wrapping everything else in a muffling, moist blanket.
It’s as if the world has been roundly admonished, for staying out late on Saturday night. This Easter Sunday morning, for a while at least, everything is very subdued.
Even the dogs are on their best behaviour, no frenzied rushing around, just chasing their exercise balls and coming straight back.
A ribbon of seaweed marks a line where the last tide turned. Razor clams crunch beneath our feet as we – at last – catch sight of the sea. It’s still coming in, but sliding gently, not breaking. Like everything else, a shadow of its stormier self.
Behind us the profile of the dunes rises, like so many dromedaries, behind a veil of a mist which curls and rolls but never clears.
We sit, English style, in our car, sipping hot tea-bag tea from polystyrene cups, nibbling half a slice of cake each, watching the stalwart kayakers unpack their rental van and head out to oblivion – let’s hope just temporary.
The mist is still in charge. It’s cold and damp and it’s the longest walk I’ve done so far –and I feel it. Time to go.
One last long look at the view – or lack of it.
The sky and sea, humans and horses, dogs and seagulls all blended into one steam-coloured smudge of day.
As we leave I can still hear the skylark. But of course, it’s nowhere to be seen.