I’m working in Bideford again today, so I meet Andrew for a dimpsey Atlantic swim at Saunton. The air temperature has plummeted and there’s a frigid northerly blowing. The tide’s around two thirds out, so we change in the shelter of the cliffs and trot down through the exposed widescreen beach. The first shallows are icy, but as we get to knee height the water warms so that it’s infinitely preferable to go under.
The sea is dark, the same shade of slate as the puffs of cloud overhead. I’m lulled by the whoosh and foam of gently breaking surf as I float. The bank of cloud on the horizon obscures the setting sun from view, while the sky glows peach and palest blue and a crescent moon hangs tipsily over the estuary. Orange light shivers on the surface, distorted by long rollers and the latticed ripples formed by the wind as it whips offshore.
We stay in slightly too long, bobbing, swimming and body surfing. As we run back up the beach my feet begin to freeze and by the time we reach the car park I’m numb to the ankles and able to sprint straight over the stony ground with no hobbling whatsoever. Well perhaps ‘sprint’ is too strong a word…We warm up in TrannyVan with ginger tea and a chat.