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preston sands

it’s rather a windy mid-january day, and i am in torbay, wandering about the rolling cliffside gardens of a fading 19th century mansion. celandine, winter heliotrope, snowdrops, snapdragon, there are several wooden benches too, for sitting down and admiring the view, and there’s a particularly ornate, but switched off, water fountain, weather-worn ancient sea gods and sirens, still proud, but paint peeling. there’s even a crocus or two, though they’re not yet in full bloom. all about me, dew drops are clinging to every blade, and over the ocean, clouds and sunbeams alternate, shadows stretching and contracting. the sunlight fades, illuminates, and fades again, and on the horizon, there’s the distant, but eventual, promise of rain.

i find my way to paignton’s preston sands, where stephanie tells me that each seventh wave is the strongest. there are strandline seashells of every sort, washed up onto shore. whelk, whorled, silver striped and slipper limpets, all caught in the rippling ribbons and ridges of shale and shingle saltation, sea-polished cobble and perfectly spherical pebbles aplenty.  a black labrador bounds about, braving the breaking waves, which are growing in strength, pawprints in patterns, and a little girl wearing a sparkling black coat and pink wellingtons boots is constructing a castle, from sand, spade, and bucket, next to the creaking pier. today, i am meant to be here.

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