There was a time when I thought the sea was always angry. We would visit my Gran in Old Portsmouth where some of the roads around her flat were still cobbled. In fact her single paned windows looked out over the Grand Parade. On our weekends normally we’d look down on a few rows of cars as people found a spot and decanted onto the coast, hot toddlers and dogs in tow. My Gran used to say that the old cobbled parade ground was filled with American and British troops just before D-Day. She would have looked down on the young faces as they looked out to sea. Round the corner was the Round Tower which has guarded the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour for six hundred years. Smashing up against it was this beach of pebbles and to get to the beach you had to walk through the old walls of the harbour. Fortified and steadfast they seemed rooted into the very depths of the earth. I’d always hear the sea before I caught sight of it, that was the way. The volume always seemed higher there, in amongst the stone walls and towers with their pebbly foundations. The salty spittle of the channel would be another signal you were getting close. We would tiptoe to view the waves and judge their mood, expectant and wondering. On those angry days we’d step into the wind and listen to our tiny voices being swept into the wash. Holding tight to each other or the railings we counted the rollers and tried not to get too wet. The walls buttressed the pulse of the waves and I would be swallowed up by the billowing sound. It was always a thrill. Somedays the temper had abated and the skies clearer and we’d jump down onto the pebbles ready to skim some stones.
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