There are only a few places where you can comfortably watch the clouds go by without craning your neck, and one of them is lying on a beach and it was here that I suddenly realised how surreal the seaside can be. It's the place you can eat Christmas Pudding in summer, albeit as the very best ice cream in England - just after breakfast and again before supper; where normally decorous women can show their knickers as they lift up their skirts to avoid the waves while paddling and nobody bats an eyelid; where grown-ups can eat fragrantly vinegary hot food with their hands out of a paper bag without the raising of a single judgemental eyebrow- none that I saw at least; where sculptures adorn beaches and towers and delight passing strangers.
And even the hollyhocks are tempted to steal a march to the shore. (Did they follow me, I wonder?)
In our surreal little bubble, we lay on the beach, hiding under straw hats and hammamas from the strength of the sun in the afternoon, reading, snoozing, eating and drinking tea brought onto the beach from the rented flat, took an evening promenade, walked to the next village for a cream tea and raced the bus back. Then we came home with our haul of books, brooches and sneaked-in fabric and slipped clumsily back into the real world.