I think when people imagine Brighton Beach, the stereotypical images of a sunny beach filled with tourists and locals all sunbathing on towels spring to mind.
But when I visited, it was quite different. It was dark and gloomy, stormy and wind whipped, and huge waves swept in menacingly. I loved it.
Somehow beaches in winter seem more wild. The lashing waves and swirling winds remind us that nature is powerful and ever present. We are only borrowing this shoreline for a short time, before the sea reclaims it with the turning of the tide.
I sat on the beach for a long time, doing nothing, just staring out to sea.
Most of the beaches I have been to in my life have been clearly divided from urban life, with buildings giving way to woodland or scrubby grasses before the beach softly sloped into the water. It was strange and fascinating to me to see how close the buildings in Brighton were to the waters edge, to see the pubs and bars and shops which were built on the beach. The city and the beach are so interlinked.
Beautiful pastel shells were washed up all over the beach, along with dark and tangled seaweed.
The contrast between the natural and the man-made was especially evident in the juxtaposition of the grey, ominous sea and the twinkling lights of the pier.
The time I spent on the beach really made me realise how much I love the sea, and how much I miss it. I hope one day I can live close enough to the coast that beach walks are a regular occurrence, rather than a rare and momentous occasion. I am a mermaid after all.