White beaches, dolphins, seahorses: I sailed away from Britain, but now I love its coasts more than ever

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Sometimes you need to leave to really see the place you came from. Years after sailing solo to Greece, every time I return I’m astounded by what I find

I’m staring at a seahorse. At the little spines on its head. A spiky crown. Like a unicorn under water. Such sightings are always precious, but this one feels unique because I’ve convinced myself that he’s giving birth. I watch them daily, these bony little fish, tails curling twigs, fanning delicately, performing their sunrise greetings (my heart!). This little fella angles this way and that while bubbles, or perhaps thousands of tiny seahorse babies ejected from his pouch, rise around him. It’s hard to tell, but who needs proof? The possibility is magical enough. Life is fairytale-special. If you choose to see it that way.

We’re in northern Greece, the seahorses and me, a few miles south-east of Preveza, in the Ionian sea. But you could find them in your own watery back yard, too – even in London. Hippocampus hippocampus breed in the outer Thames, and along England’s south coast.

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