Sunday by the Sea

The beach at Coverack. I grew up by a very different sea, a beach where the sun came up warm in the early mornings then burned down fiercely after just a few hours, driving us away, back to the shelter of home.

The wintery Cornish sea is gentle, at ease under clouds, and a miraculous tropical turquoise blue when seen from above. Among the rocks are hidden colours.


I am as happy by this sea as my first sea. I used to walk on the beach in Colombo with my grandmother on school-holiday mornings, wading through waves, talking together, planning our day. She would draw in the sand with a stick, elephants mostly, once a tiger, and houses just as at home she drew the embroidery patterns she designed. We would stand in the shade of the coconut trees as my grandfather jogged to the far end of the beach, turning back where rocks spilled across, blocking his way. He’d be greeting his old buddies from the Kinross Swimming Club jogging past, or stretching stiffly, or did headstands in the sand.

That old beach is altered now, eroded where we used to walk, the people long gone, as has the innocence of those times. But as I walk with my chattering daughter in these different waves, and gulls – not crows – shriek at us, I am as happy by this new sea, as familiar with its sighs and restlessness, drawn to the newness of each ripple and wave.

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