The coast at Findhorn is a favourite place for a walk by the sea because of the ever-changing seascapes under huge spreading skies. Always present is a sense of the vastness of the world as the land, sea and sky vanishes into far distant horizons. On this latest visit, on a mild March day, the tide had just turned, leaving the first strip of firm, wet sand below the long strips of surf sorted pebbles Wind-ripped clouds spread over the sky, their ragged streaks a contrast to the ruler straight lines of the beach. The sea was visually calmer with gentle waves breaking weakly on the sand, their power ebbing as the tide drew back. This apparent serenity was broken by the roar of the waves, the dominant sound on a day with no screaming gulls and few other birds. Just one little dunlin racing on its clockwork legs away from the waves and a cormorant perched on a rotting post far out from the shore.
As we rounded the dunes into the mouth of Findhorn Bay the sea thunder began to fade and we heard another sound, the mournful, slightly eerie calls of seals, a large group of which we could see on the beach on the far side of the water. The water in the bay was still and quiet, little ripples washing over the pebbles at its edge. The sun was brighter here and other than the hint of chill in the brisk breeze it could have been summer.
The ravages of winter storms were visible though in the ragged remains of a windsock that stands atop the dunes on the headland between the sea and the bay. We had seen this many times over the years, always bright orange and solid. Today it was torn and faded and shredded.