It’s a beautiful morning and the sea sparkles, grey Naval ships are silhouetted on the horizon. We descend the Art Deco steps, worn into natural shapes by eighty years of storms and tides and trip through the stones on the tiny beach. Joh’s Dad beats us in, and immediately returns to the shore as though attached to a bungee. ‘You need to stay in for twenty minutes to get the benefits!’ I say. He gives me an old-fashioned look.
Joh, Pauline and I swim to the buoy marking the edge of the swimming area, then turn parallel to the rocky shore. If you venture too far out here you’re liable to be sunk by a warship, mangled in the propellers of a cross-channel ferry, or surprised from underneath by a submarine (up periscope!)
After a while we float and enjoy the view: Smeaton’s Tower and the big wheel on the shore; Drake’s Island over towards the Tamar; and the Breakwater a couple of miles out in the Sound. Turning back, the current is surprisingly strong around the tiny promontory, and swimming a few meters further from shore than Pauline and Joh I suddenly realise that I’m way behind them. We stop and allow ourselves to be washed onto a concrete headland and dive in a couple of times.
I look up at the sky; icy blue and bisected by a cloud the colour and shape of a flatfish skeleton.