The beach does not feature on any map I have seen to date, it certainly does not have a name alongside it, but there it is, down the vertiginous, spiraling steps; which would be fine except for the ones built with the tightly packed bricks straight out of an Escher drawing. “I’m dizzy with anticipation. Or is it the wind.”
To be fair, the beach does not feature on any plane of existence at high tide when the steps simply spiral down into water and if like today the water is a bit murky there would be no hint of the gentle incline of pebbles and sand. The sand is golden with a high proportion of crushed shells, hence Shell Cove as I understood it was called until a week ago when someone with more local knowledge than I assured me it was Ladybird Cove. Shells I can see, ladybirds are less in evidence so I am sticking with what I know: Shell Cove.
I place my bag on the step. It’s not at the bottom and it’s not at the top, but this is the stair where I always stop. Running shoes and tights off and I am ready to go whilst studiously ignoring the couple leaning on the wall above and the snippet of conversation: ‘he must have a wetsuit’. No, he doesn’t.
The beach slopes down to the low water mark whereupon barnacled rocks take over, but there are big rocks dotted across the beach and I can’t see them today so I have to shuffle forward as I smashed a second toe last night in the river and now limp on both sides after the rock kicking moment two weeks ago at Sharrah Pool. I do not need any more injuries.
The sea is brisk but I am going out on a limb to claim that it is no longer ‘wintry’ and to add to the enjoyment of the moment the clouds rip apart and the sun beams through.
It’s only a little beach so this is only a little swim. Out far enough to get into the swell and grab a distant view of Berry Head. Then towards Breakwater Beach and loop around the rock with the sole purpose of displacing the seagulls. And back to the steps where I see that even in that short a time the tide has receded just clearing the steps. Perfect timing.