We got whisked off to the beach the other day by some friends of ours. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m beach man myself. There is nothing I like better than lying down to toast under a wickedly hot sun for a dangerously long period of time until, skin threatening to burst and slippery with sweat, I daintily trot down the beach to embrace the quiet cooling arms of an ever welcoming sea, fitfully splashing around like a two year old (I’m a terrible swimmer), to return few minutes later to my allotted basting pot and preferably a glass of cold beer.

Imagine my chagrin as we approached the beach at St. Peter Ording in North Germany. A beautiful beach, with mile upon mile of flat, yellow sand. This much is true. It was also a hot sunny day, also true. And you couldn’t, for the life of you, have wished for better company – good friends in high spirits. But it was the kites and kite surfers that gave the game away. The whole beach was swept by a fierce wind which drove the sand into every nook and cranny you ever knew you had, and then some. People were fighting with wind breakers, only to watch them escape into the wild, chased by their windmilling owners, seagulls were staring enviously at the kites, wondering where they had flown in from, while the surf crashed loudly in the background so that we were forced to shout at each other whenever we felt the need to communicate. My friends are of much more robust stuff than I, and, ducking kites and wind-surfers, braved the sea twice, even trying to convince me that it was warm… but to no avail. I squatted valiantly behind a pile of rucksacks and a flapping wind breaker (no idea how they managed to get it to stay up), and managed to write a little poem about my day out.