The trees began to thin and slats of blue sky brightened the way ahead. The scent of the salty sea grew stronger, and the verdant, green grass beneath our feet grew scant as the fertile, black earth gave way to soft, golden sand. Suddenly the trees broke and we found ourselves at the edge of the most beautiful, clean, white, sandy beach you had ever seen. I don't think even Risa could rival it.
The sands stretched out to either side of us, embracing the sea in a rich, deep hug, its surface rippled with perfect symmetry. The water sparkled like blue crystal and rolled lazily onto the sand with barely enough energy to retreat again. The sky above was deep azure blue. Whispery clouds swirled in currents somewhere far above, but here, on the ground, there was barely a breath of wind.
It was glorious.
Waiting for us was a neat little blue and white boat with an outboard engine on the back. Hmm, I wonder if Rutter can pilot that, I thought.
"Wow!" exclaimed Al. "Can't we just stay here and sunbathe?" she laughed.
Looking at Traeth's face, ashen with worry, I decided that it was probably a good idea to spend some time on the beach before graduating onto the sea. I unzipped my boots and peeled off my socks before stepping onto the soft, warm sand. As it squished up between my toes, it felt heavenly.
"Come on," I said brightly. "Let's build a sandcastle!"
"You're kidding, right?" said Rutter.
I shook my head.
"No. Traeth needs to gain some confidence and what better way than experiencing the joys of the beach first hand. Anyone got a bucket?"