Moments from a heatwave

This field is blue-black with a crop of solar panels; then the colour of parchment returns. Cows languish in clumps and, though I’ve travelled this line so many times, even they seem whiter, bleached by the sun.

Train, car, boat. West Wittering Beach – where a lion bought from Harrods was once taken to play – is an ants’ nest of people. Only when we’re beyond the harbour mouth and the speed limit does the heat give us over to the wind.

This bay is quieter than the one next door. The water stops being cold after ten seconds, becomes bliss, albeit a seaweed-tangled bliss. We fish out a torn plastic bag pretending to be a jellyfish. The real ones here are kind enough not to sting.

Evening. New kayak, magic carpet to a plane of reality that sits just above the water. The quiet of oars. The terns and the oyster catchers still take offence. I see what I have never seen before – the tide-bared banks are bright green with samphire. I will bring scissors next time.

I think it is a buoy at first, until the snout revolves around. Head glistening coal-black. Down it goes. I paddle on. Up it comes again, closer. I’m unable to stop myself making a kissing noise at it, the same one I make to get my cats’ attention. It whips its head around and, slowly, sinks away.

A seal’s a good thing to be, a summer like this, I think.

Chichester

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