A sky of solid blue, blazing sun, and the shushing of waves on the shingle beach – and it’s October.

We’ve carried our picnic down from the car-park to the beach steps but the tide is coming in and soon there will be nothing to sit on; we walk up the path to the top of Seaford Head, clear a space in the rabbit-droppings and spread the ancient blanket. Bacon and parmesan muffins, asparagus, figs and a bottle of Sauvignon in its silver chiller-jacket: this is a classy picnic – we’ve got Sheffield son and girlfriend with us.

We walk down the hill past the much-photographed coastguard cottages and spread our towels, and after limping over the pebbles I have to dive into the sea. It’s colder than it looks, and after a bit of puffing, floating and staring up into the blue I’m crawling painfully back out again.

A beefy-bicepped man in tattoos and shades strolls along the top of the beach with a tiny dachsund straining on a lead; another, leathery dark-tanned, poses in tight split-sided trunks. A thin white youth in flappy football shorts fails to skim stones over the sea.

Just the whoosh of the waves, distant children’s squeals, seagullszzzzzz….

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