Night-time is an intoxicating new land: how learning to love the dark eased my grief

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From magical moonlit swims to midnight hikes and listening to owls, I have embraced my insomnia and discovered the joy of ‘night journeys’

As I slip out of my clothes, my stomach pinches with fear. The beach – Pevensey Bay in East Sussex – is inky black and eerily empty. The sound of slurping seawater seems noisier than usual, the air smells brinier than it does during the day, and the night breeze feels cool and sharp.

My previous efforts at night swimming have been unsuccessful – the current too strong, the waves too wild, my imagination too extravagant. But tonight I’m determined. My daughter Imogen shouts to encourage me and the emergence of a full moon steadies my nerves. Within moments I am bobbing about amid glittering moonshine, laughing and gasping, and wondering why it has taken me half a century to do something as simple and magical as a moonlit dip.

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