We wanted somewhere a little wild but easy to reach. Where else but a winter seafront? Beach, sea and sky merge – layers of grey in the misty dark. Waves – unseen – roar like a motorway. The sand hardly squelches, so I expect to avoid the flailing of the man on the ‘sinking mud’ sign. We share pockets, hand warmers and thumbs, and I fail to realise that the blue neon we are staring at is a pier.