Tuesday 31st December, the end of 2019, but not the end of the disruption to the norm that extends from around December 20th to a point in the New Year when the sales are exhausted and those that have too return to work. Today it brought visitors down to Shingle Street: families, couples and singles; photographers, birdwatchers, dog walkers and beach combers.
At low tide two middle aged men approached me and asked how high the tide came up. I point to the strand line of feathers, bladder wrack, mermaids’ purses and whelk shells along the top of the highest sea facing shingle ridge. They looked skeptical, said they were looking for somewhere to fish, would give it a go, didn’t really expect to catch much, just wanted an excuse to get out into the fresh air. Their nomad camp appeared an hour later.
Mid-morning, a straw-haired woman in white emerged from a bungalow and floated across the stones, stepped down the bank and sat by the water. She contemplated the gently rolling sea, stripped off to a black bikini, slipped into the water and dived under. Bobbing up, a couple of strokes took her into deeper water and the longshore drift. She swam in, crunched up the fine shingle, donned her robe and strode back over the ridges in a tight self-embrace.