Once upon a long ago a boy took me for a walk on a beach somewhere in the middle of England, where the sea was brown — nearly as brown as the sand, it was. The rest of the day was blue and red against a grey background of clouds and winds and middle-of-winter blues: those were the colours of the buildings and of my hat and of my heart, and, on the bus ride home, of the blurry world outside the raindrop-stained windows. And in its own quiet, understated way this day became one of the best things in my life — a little like watching the rain from that train station shelter in Kalmar was (what I called ‘the living equivalent of a poem’ back then) but mostly like nothing else in the whole wide world.

Last Sunday I took the same boy on a walk on the other side of the river from here in an effort to bridge the gap that not talking for most of the time in between had created. The sea was a hundred different shades of blue, and, when we came back, my heart was a hundred different colours too.

And so now I am as in love with Dawlish as I was with Cleethropes all that time ago. And, somehow, this is all that I could have asked for.