Hayling Island, Hampshire: Their communal bath is such a frenzy of activity that it feels as though I’m watching them on fast forward
We arrive at the beach just after sunrise, though there is no sun to be seen. Dingy grey stratus clouds blanket the sky, and on the other side of the Solent, the Isle of Wight is obscured by mist.
Sewage-overflow alerts have kept us landbound for several weeks so we dawdle on the shore, contemplating the water, murky with what we hope is now just sediment stirred up by the wind and waves. For the first time this autumn, there is a noticeable chill in the air, and though the sea temperature has only dropped one degree since our last swim, we are anxiously anticipating the cold bite of the water.