DAY off. Big floppy sunhat on Eype beach.
What a day. The beach isn’t packed, but there’s still a couple of hundred holidaymakers and locals barbecuing, swimming, reading, sunbathing, strolling, screaming, fishing and dog walking.
Bang goes my half-hope of having the place to myself. I skip over a river running down to the sea and shuffle along the tideline until most of the people are gone.
Close to the waves, the sea twinkles. Speed boats skid past. Gulls mew. A couple loll in a dinghy. Two leggy teens wade into the ankle-deep surf, giggling and squealing.
Is the tide coming in? I promise myself I’ll get in the sea when it comes to greet me. I wait.
Then it’s too hot, and I hop in. It’s lovely. The water’s warm, in patches. I drift along, spying on people on the beach, gazing at stripes of shingle and headland and sky.
Wow. I’m floating in Lyme Bay. The water’s cloudy, a light blue here and a deeper, foreign blue over there. On one side is West Bay, the other is Charmouth. Maybe I’ll go there tomorrow, or Monday. Gulls fly above, their little legs tucked under.
Hauling myself out, I try to read a book but get distracted by the shingle. The stones are black and orange and pink and mustard and apricot. They squeak like unoiled hinges when poured through fingers. Each one’s strafed with time and tide. Some are pockmarked with fossilised acne and quartzes.
Salt prickles on skin as seawater dries in the breeze. It’s time to go. On the way back I can’t help drooling at dream cottages.
It’s not long before I’m deep in typical West Dorset countryside – ancient sunken lanes dappled with sunshine, rolling fields, grazing sheep.
At Eype Centre for the Arts, a couple of artistic types are hefting canvasses and smoking, bare-foot, on a bench. I smile. I love living in Bridport.