Today's share of Paradise ...
I suspect I've blipped this view before. It's the classic loveliness of a bay on Argyll's Secret Coast, with the blue outline of Arran filling the horizon and the acres of fine sand that the low tide reveals in this perfect spot. Today, with the sun splitting the sky, I was determined to have my Scottish sea swim - the first of the year, the first in a year because I had my last one on this very Thursday last year.
It takes about an hour of rather hair-raising driving to get here over single-track roads and two-way roads that are never quite wide enough for that huge timber lorry and trailer we met today (they're harvesting forests like mad round here these days) nor the OpenReach van with another job to do. The road edges are cut sharply off by drops of up to five inches, so you don't want to go over and wreck your new tyres ...But it was worth it. We managed to park safely; we had the lovely walk down over the mach air, we found the beach with hardly any people on it. We had a picnic lunch, a paddle - and then I changed and went in for a swim as the tide began to seep and curl its way into the ribs of sand.
A man in a dinghy asked me if it was cold, but for once I was able to assure him that it wasn't, that the upper layer of water was so warmed by the sun that if you swam gently you could stay in that balmy liquid and enjoy it. We stayed till late afternoon, walking over the sand where the ridges were baked so hard by the sun that they hurt the feet. (I kept muttering about the Ancient Mariner - brown like the ribbed sea sand ...)
When we got back to the car, the thermometer said 30ºC. We drove home with the air-con running full blast and had G&T in the garden, joined quietly by the hedgehog which suddenly appeared, walking purposefully down the middle of the path, right up to where I was sitting, and then calmly turned and pottered off under the hedge.
I felt doubly blessed. A glorious day.