One afternoon last month, my father dragged out the photo album. (No, not a typo; there’s only one.) The pictures are carefully arranged behind plastic and Not to Be Disturbed. The only way to get copies is to take snapshots in situ.

Here’s one of the half a dozen or so pictures I took that afternoon while Dad was in the kitchen making coffee:

I’m guessing I was seven going on eight and my little sister, Helena, four. Behind us is my older sister, Carolyn. The car was a big Ford Zephyr with a bench seat at the front (hey, you try driving a family of eight–parents, two kids, one grandfather–in a more English-sized vehicle). It’s parked outside the bungalow we rented every year for a fortnight in a tiny one-road hamlet, Hunmanby Gap.

I loved that place (the hamlet, not the house–which was decrepit). It felt like home away from home, one of the solid things in my life, even though the cliffs were crumbling into the sea. (We moved house all the time, but we always came back to that bungalow in summer.) In fact, Hunmanby Gap was such a comfort to me that when I was first ill in 1989 and needed a place to convalesce, I rented the house four doors down from that old bungalow for three week. It worked wonders.

Never could find a substitute for those super-cool sunglasses, though…