The holidays of my younger childhood mostly involved beaches, usually fairly populous stretches of sand and shingle in busy south coast resorts. But I do have an unplaced memory of a rather different kind of beach, altogether more remote and expansive. I remember the odd thrill, on the homeward leg of a walk, of coming upon my own small footprints in the sand, left some hours earlier. There they were, unmistakable from the pattern on the sole of my sandals, alongside the steady tread of my family and the erratic meanderings of our dog. They were mine and yet not mine. They belonged to a younger me, setting out, with a day ahead of me.
I have had similar experiences since: finding again an entry left some years earlier in the visitors' book of a church or bothy; having returned to me pieces of schoolwork written when I was very young.
All my life I have made marks; traced my name in sand and snow, etched my initials in tree bark and school desks, painted rooms, planted out gardens, written all manner of things. Most of my marks will have been erased by time and tide, most are forgotten and certainly never to be stumbled upon again. But not all. There will be little scratchings here and there; evidence of the passing through by another, younger me.