Sizewell, Suffolk. 28th September.
There are few things more beautiful than a coastal dawn.
Above the waves, a glow on the horizon. Then a spark of light that becomes a globe of fire, pulling itself free of the sea. All in a few, precious moments.
Alone on the beach I watched the birth of a new day.
The night before I’d walked through the wind to the sand dunes.
The easterly roared in the trees, obliterating the night sounds except for the crickets in the gorse bushes.
The moon was yet to rise and, though starry, it was dark. Without a torch the path was hard to make out, just a lighter dark, a subtle difference in visual texture. Though I knew the route by heart the ground gave no warnings of its little ups and downs and I stumbled blindly at times.
Above me the Milky Way, a pale river in the ink.
Then a beam of light arcing over the horizon, Southwold lighthouse, some 15 miles to the north, its outline kept firm by the damp air rushing in from the sea.
To the south, the Sizewell nuclear power stations A and B, their alien light reflecting in the pools and ditches I walked past. As I neared the sea the ruins of a chapel were silhouetted against the dome of reactor B, the 14th century dwarfed by the 20th century.
Melding into the roar of the wind now, the sound of crashing waves. The moisture and the smell of the spray.
Sand and grass, the delicate edge of the solid world. After the dunes just pebbles and the north sea throwing itself against the shore.
I drink whisky, watch and listen.
A shooting star streaking in the direction of one of the lighthouse beams, Space seeking out Earth.
I find a place to sleep out of the wind, though even in the lee of the dunes the grasses thrash around me – I’m glad for my warm sleeping bag.
Waking in the night I open my eyes and find I’m looking directly at the crescent moon.
When I open them again it’s getting light.
I move up the dunes to watch the dawn unfold.
In this bright new world only myself and the sea-birds – flying along the coast from their roosts to their feeding grounds. Black processions against the early light.
The sun clears the horizon and I notice the vapour trails from the planes, pale slashes through the reds, oranges and yellows filling the sky.
Having packed, I set off and walk along the sea shore, kicking the foam, full of light, into the breeze.
After a little while I come across a bench, made from an old container driven deep into the stones by god knows who. Given its position on the shingle it must spend some of the day under the waves. I sit on it and enjoy the view, giving silent thanks to the public spirited genius who had the idea.