July holidays at Clifton were cold and rainy. The Atlantic ocean, churned by the north-west wind which came in winter in the form of cold wet low-pressure systems, threw up breakers which beat against the rocks, washed the sand from the beaches and out into the bay, and churned the water into a yellowish-white foam, which coated the surface for hundreds and hundreds of yards, like an ice floe, and which, when deposited on the rocks and the remaining sand, covered them with a wobbling, gleaming mass of tenacious bubbles that smelled of the sea and of the many tiny dying creatures who had given of their substance to make the foam. It dried and left streaks the colour of mustard on the white sand.
When the northwester piled the waves up high, they loomed like mountains, crossed the beach and sometimes even crossed the wall in front of our bungalow, so that it was a simple matter to imagine that Lion’s Head, the mountain which rose behind us and dominated our skyline, was itself a wave and that it might at any moment break. Sometimes to this day, the waves and the mountain merge in my dreams and the rising water, whipped with foam, rises higher than the peaks and obliterates everything.