‘Come and get me, sea!’ Ceris shouts at the horizon. Spinning round with a ‘hi-yah!’, she throws a punch and a kick at the fizzing white foam as a wave crashes in front of her. She is four years-old, fighting nature in all its force, and she is winning. Captivated in a moment of sheer joy and exhilaration and completely unfazed by the chill of the English Channel, this tiny blonde girl could take on anything. She is fearless.
I am standing ankle-deep in the water with my jeans rolled up watching her. I gasp every time a wave catches me by surprise and rises further up my shins. My mind drifts to whether I have turned my Out of Office reply on and to this morning’s email about renewing the car insurance. A knot tightens in my stomach. I can feel my heartbeat in my chest and I need a wee.
‘Dad come in!’ she shouts. I snap back to the moment. Rolling my jeans up further I wade towards her. She beams with excitement and I smile back. Now the water feels invigorating and for a few minutes the anxiety is washed away.
It is just me, my daughter and the sea, and it feels wonderful.