Somerset Maugham renamed Whitstable “Blackstable” in one of his first novels. He had grown up here and hated the place. I understood. Visiting the seaside in the summer is nothing like living there year-round. I remembered the sea around the British coastline as mostly mackerel gray, offset by startling blue skies in the summer. But when it rained, or threatened to rain, the grayness was omnipresent, inescapable. Although it was not raining now, the air was damp and chilly.
“June the first,” I said. “All looks a bit bleak.”
“Well, it’s not the Med, is it? This is England. Denis, you are so funny.”
As we approached the harbor area, however, the bleakness softened a bit, with hints of sunlight again piercing the dulled silver sky.