The sea is settling down and the waves roll in from a level horizon as the sun raises its face once more to herald in the new day. Footprints pressed into the fine red sand soften and begin to melt as they fill with displaced water and are then smoothed away by a line of bright foam running ahead of the sea.
The sunrise this morning set the tone for a stunning day and so I took a slightly long way home back to where I started out this morning for a fantastic 20 minutes jumping waves and dodging surfers as the sun set in a further blaze of glory.
In the pre-dawn light the seafront was not at its best, or what little I could actually see of it. Instead what I could hear was the waves lashing the wall driven by a wickedly sharp breeze. A mile in the Torquay direction things were a world apart where a serene sea lapped at the concrete steps and rippled across the tangles of ruts in the sand. But here’s the thing, from Torquay seafront you cannot see the sunrise. Well you can but only for a month or so either side of the winter solstice as the sun marks its wayward course across the horizon.
Equally no matter where you are you cannot see the sunrise if it is behind the clouds and back at the car what I could see was clouds across the sun. But a little devil on my shoulder was going “Do it, do it, you want to do it.” And so next thing there I was in swimwear when up and down the beach are people in heavy jackets and warm hats. It really is that easy to get an audience.
And once I was out beyond the waves the sun did its thing. Woo hoo!
And afterwards the proper shivers but that is going to happen if you stand about dripping wet in a cold breeze taking photos.
Storm Callum is still circling the bay and in the past 48 hours the wind direction has spun full circle twice around the compass looking for a way back in. The pre-dawn drizzle has faded away but the steps are slick with green weed and the sea surges with unanticipated force up the wall only to be thrown back in a cascade amongst the railings each time trying to sweep my feet away.
Under the critical gaze of the person leaning on the railings above I pick my way to the edge of the concrete feeling with my toes and then I am into the waist deep water. But another few feet out is a line of breakwater stones and just when I am sure I have passed them I catch my knee lightly on one.
The air is a balmy 15°C and the sea is not much less as I swim contentedly out of the reach of the rocks and then left and right and back again up and down the beach. Above there are pale splashes in the sky but whether gaps through the cloud or simply whiter shades of pale I cannot tell and looking down what appears to be pale sand is clearly not as my legs terminated at the knees.
This morning though I have got to be terribly late so after just 10 minutes I’m edging back to the steps.
The cut in my knee barely notices except that a bright red trail is zig-zagging fast towards my foot like summer lightening. Why so much blood from such a small cut? You would have thought that cold water would shut off the circulation. Ah well my life would not be the same if I didn’t have cut knees.
In the wake of Storm Callum the rain has returned and any thought of heading for Charmouth fossil hunting has been shelved. The morning has nevertheless been saved by other swimmers who have stuck to a planned Meadfoot swim. Well what’s a little rain if you are up to your neck in the sea anyway?
The storm may have swamped the seafront with a flotsam and jetsam of seaweed and pebbles but the sea has turned remarkably calm overnight though a swell surges up the slipway and swamps the steps as we slip onto the pea soup of a sea.
The rain raises micro-mountains of sea water as a foot to each falling drop but it is imperceptibly easing down to fine intermittent drizzle. No-one is however inclined to go far and the not so distant summit of Shag Rock will remain unclaimed today. Instead we are quickly dressed and ordering indulgent breakfasts at the Meadfoot Beach Cafe.
Sunday is already a huge improvement over Saturday and it’s only 11am.
Did someone say there was a storm with 60 mile an hour winds and torrential rain? The great thing about Torbay with its high headlands and small beaches tucked into little coves is that there is usually somewhere out of the weather. If that fails then Brixham has this massive breakwater.
So after my run I swam at the beach for a bit in a flat calm sea whilst on the other side of the bay 4 mikes away I could see water shooting in great sprays at Thatcher Rock, Meadfoot and London Bridge.
Mist blew in shreds on a breeze that, despite the 14°C air temperature, scythed wickedly sharp up the dark street outside the house and left everything with a dripping coat.
At the seafront the sky was reddening across the horizon behind a wall of cloud and the chance of a sunrise seemed slim. Anyway what’s so special about sunrises? They have been as regular as clockwork this last couple of weeks, “Ooh look, another just like the last one and the one before that.” But sunrises are not simply sunsets done backwards, there is far more anticipation to the return of light and warmth and though the seafront is again packed with would be photographers there us still a sense of oneness with the daily rebirth of that little fiery ball.
I have caned my run as for some reason my legs decided without asking me to just let rip and I am back at the car, out of breath and dripping. There is no time to waste as the cloud has gone from the horizon which has begun to boil with colour.
The sea turned from mirror calm to choppy in just a few hours yesterday morning and it is still surging about the steps and trying to knock me off my feet. It is safer in the water and I am swimming to the horizon as a crescent of rising sun appears. Now you see it, now you don’t as the waves lift and plunge me. The crescent makes a semicircle and then lifts clear as a bloody coloured bead. A few moments later and it is too bright to look at and so another dull grey autumn day begins. Or not.