A slightly surreal-looking rock pool at Hope Gap, inspiration for a scene in my novel-in-progress, set in a near-future world on an abandoned south coast.

The rock-pools are hidden, the tide turning to ebb. She doesn’t intend it, but her body takes her to meet the sea, waves lapping ankles and knees, until she’s floating and ebbing westwards. It isn’t the stomach-flip churn of her dreams, but a cradling lullaby swim.

At first it’s rocks and boulders, sediment-mist, porcelain crabs in crevices, piddocks and whelks, the drift-swim of weightless limbs.

When she breaks the surface for air, the cliffs are white behind her, urging her on.

Underwater, the coastline is a string of bays, sheltered in the eddies of the abandoned Channel, shoals of sandeels and herring, orange fish and silver, species she’s never seen: goldsinny, corkwing, ballan wrasse, the sea says.