Springs and neaps

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Sandsend, the village at the bottom of the hill, has the best high tides. The grey North Sea boils and booms, pounding against the sea wall and somersaulting back into itself with a deep, wet thump. Jets of spray fountain up the wall and flick high into the air, raining down on any vehicles whose owners were naive enough to park them along the front.

When we were little, Christian and I used to go wave dodging, standing on the slipway in our wellies and then scampering away as the creamy sheets of foam rushed towards us the way beer leaps frothily up the side of a pint glass in well-produced adverts. We invariably ended up with soggy feet, and once every decade or so there are still tragedies where a rogue wave snatches someone from the seafront.

To the north, the crocodile promontory of Sandsend Ness, where they once mined alum shale, stretches out into the sea, and the swell pummels its sheer cliffs, sending clouds of seabirds wheeling, and occasionally gouging away another slice of the land. It’s a handsome place to spend an hour strolling after lunch. A few years ago, before some adventure or other, more prudent souls than me talked me into making a will (mainly to avoid the possibility that Christian might lose the flat if anything happened to me), and I specified that when all this is done with, I’d like to be burned to cinders and chucked off Sandsend Ness. Days like this I’m reminded why.

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