There is most certainly a tang of summer on the breeze. The air is almost perfectly still, the sky is cloudless and has that rich blue tint of just past dawn, there are still patches of frost in the shady hollows and best of all even though it is 8am the sunshine is sufficiently warming that there is a very marked transition as I step from sunshine to shade to lean on the railing to pull my wetsuit on. The railing is royal blue with a white bloom where it is encrusted with salt and has been scoured by wind blown sand.
The sea appears to be flat clam but there is a hidden swell and just once in a while the water slops against the foot of the sea wall and throws up a veil of spray, 6 feet up the wall and another 6 feet into the air where it glitters in the oblique sunshine, freezes momentarily at its peak and then slaps down over the concrete.
Pausing on the lowest step with the sea swirling around my ankles I am thinking of L, another passionate open water swimmer who is in hospital today. On such a perfect morning my choice of wetsuit over ‘skins’ would have been scoffed at, but that is just fine, we agree on many things in principal but have our own views on the finer points. However on a morning such as this positivity is in super abundance and I only hope that some of it is rubbing off.
The beach at Broadsands shelves almost imperceptibly. This is probably one of the biggest tides of the year which is why I am here, swimming at any other time is a bit of a wasted effort as you have to pretty much wade half the way to France before there is sufficient depth to swim. Even today I am probably 20 yards out before I can kick off.
I swim straight out. I want to keep swimming straight out; ‘second star on the left and straight on ’til morning’ sort of thing. It is probably quite fortunate that I am distracted by a tennis ball otherwise I may well have been having croissants and hot chocolate for breakfast. Woof, woof!! A dollop of sea water sloshes down the front of my wetsuit as I pull the neck open to stuff the tennis ball in. Eeek! And that is why the wetsuit, I’d far rather be happy than right any day.
The men from the council have arrived and I have an audience as they open up the beach manager’s office. Why 5 of them to open up an office, why 2 small flat bed trucks? Curiouser and curiouser. They disappear off in the trucks and I continue to circle the bay. ‘Circle’ in so much as having first gone straight out 100 yards I have now gone right, then back tracked swimming parallel to the beach. I am directionally challenged.
The trucks (and men, could be women, who am I to make assumptions they are just Hi-Viz vests from this far out) are back and the mystery is explained. Lying on its side on the back of each truck is a beach hut. Each hut has a number and a corresponding number is white painted on the promenade. The first truck pulls to halt at the allotted gap and a moment later there is a ‘crump’ as the hut is tipped from the back of the truck . A twist and a shove and there’s another brick in the wall. Shove, ‘crump’ and number 134 is ready for summer.
It is going to be a good summer. Positivity all around.
Afterword. The whole of Broadsands was a marsh until not so long ago when the sea wall was built and the marshland reclaimed mostly for a car park. It is amusing therefore that this morning on this high spring tide the sea has flowed inland up the culvert, backed up the stream and a significant part of the car park is now flooded. A few extra inches rise in sea level due to global warming melting the ice sheets may not sound like much but a rise of 6 inches and I would guess the whole of the car park would be flooded. So what, it is only a car park, and it only happens a few times a year but my guess would be that when built not so long ago the level was set so as it wouldn’t flood at all. ‘And the Hundred Acre wood got floodier and floodier.’