We had the kippers for breakfast, largely because I remember Elizabeth Taylor eating them in Conspirator, which had used shots of Cley windmill. As some of the previous days had seemed a little hurried, we chose to spend much of our time in Cley.
In the marshes and then on the beach, we took quite a number of photos and field recordings. It was a sunny morning but was very windy so this affected the recordings. I certainly felt not nearly as well equipped as the many birdwatchers out on the marshes. Luckily Alessandra had brought her camera and kit, which is a lot better than mine.
While on the beach, I read a large signpost explaining how the coastline here was no longer being defended. Cley had been cut off from the sea since the 18th century and was being defended by a shingle ridge. This has been heightened artificially since the 1940s, but with rising sea levels, this has been deemed no longer sustainable. So it is no longer being done. This means that fairly soon, the grazing marshes will revert to salt marshes and eventually return to the sea.
Leaving Cley, our last stop was Happisburgh. This seemed an appropriate place to end. On the beach, the effect of erosion looked almost violent. The wreck of wooden groynes was quite a dramatic sight. Boulders and rusty metal seemed to have been piled up to hold back the tide temporarily. But it was quite obvious that the defence of the coastline had been well and truly abandoned.
Houses stood right on the cliff edge and you could see as concrete was gradually slipping down on to the beach. The peace with which we could contemplate this was soon interrupted by hordes of schoolchildren arriving on a geography field trip.
On the edge by the car park stood a shack, or at least a sort of holiday chalet, in which people were living – apparently holding on until the ground literally disappeared beneath their feet. They were flying a cross of St George. This could have been for a number of reasons – football, patriotism, nationalism – but it occurred to me that the claiming of this land as England seemed so pointless. Presumably it would not be long before this would cease to be England, or in fact anywhere.
Alessandra drove me to Stansted from where I flew back to Berlin. I believe I still owe her petrol money.