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I'm a bit uneasy quoting Thoreau: I'm not a big fan. He is too self-righteous by half, especially if you believe the story that his mother brought him lunch in his self-sufficient solitude. However, he's sometimes spot on. An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. He doesn't mention a swim, but that doubles the blessing.

For the last few days I have been doubly blessed. I rarely walk early these days, and even more rarely plunge into the ocean. But the water is warm; I have a companion; throwing a ball for the dog gives me a bit of body heat; and by the time I've walked the length of the beach I'm ready to meet the waves, hoping one will slosh me out of the gradual approach that is my custom when I encounter a body of water.

This morning the colours are muted, shades of grey and a tinge of apricot, early light becoming the fingers of god reflecting in the wave wash. Sand anemones blur under the surface of a rock pool. But there are a few sparks of bright beauty: opalescence inside a shell, the gleaming gold of seaweed, a tiny speck in the surf which is my resident son doing what he loves best.

By the time I leave the beach, the light is aureate, and I am set up for the ordeal of a phone call to the Polish consulate.