Whilst walking the night-time streets of Guildford, Eric remarked to me that it was a place that felt permanent; a place where one could put down roots. My home, and now hers, stands in complete contrast. Bournemouth is a new town, founded two hundred years ago as a seaside resort – which it still is.

She lectured me on the joys of her old inland town, with its stone walls and canals. I asked why one would want to put down roots, when you could have a beach instead?

She branded me a ‘flotsam person’, and that was that.

Things that remind me of the sea

But I suppose I am, really. I carry things that remind me of the sea, so that I feel at home wherever I go. The feeling of being tied to a place, a town with history, isn’t for me. Like the sand that drifts forever eastwards, despite the groynes that try to stop it, I’m happy anywhere near the sea. I love the feel of transient beaches, transient lives, forever in motion. Years come and go, bringing with them the ebb and flow of people – students, summer students, tourists.

I am a flotsam person, a driftwood person, happy wherever I can wash ashore and sit on sand as the waves lap against my feet.