Beneath the red cliffs the china clay ships come and go in a working port. Where the river widens into the sea, a small, open-boat ferry plies to and fro. I think it cost about twopence a trip when my children trod the bouncy gangplank and settled for the tiny journey to the opposite beach. They, and I, looked into the rippling, sunny shallows and saw pebbles and sand, and the detritus of razor shells and seaweed, and relished that poignant mix of petrol and brine.
It was a new beginning, every trip. At the other side there were sausage rolls. We bought them from a cafe built over a small beach where the scuffed and pitted sand was rarely covered by the tide.
My younger daughter adored those sausage rolls, so much so that my mother, with whom we were staying, regarded them as something of a challenge. The next time we went out we sallied forth with a bag of her home-made sausage rolls.
Not so much fun for my daughter I fear.
At that time The Onedin Line was on television, a tale of Liverpool seafaring folk in the days of sail. The seafront theatre was running a semi-professional production of Oklahoma. We hugely enjoyed the show and puzzle to this day whether the hero, Curly, was in fact the actor Peter Gilmore, moonlighting.
The Onedin Line, with its sweeping, swaying theme from Khachaturian’s Spartacus evoked journeys much further afield than that of our little ferry.
But this is the harbour of the sailing ship I see from my headland. May we voyage safely. All of us.