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Ah! The warmth of an afternoon on the beach. Sandcastles, rock-pools, surf and sun. What better image of the British summer than a stripy deckchair, a knotted handkerchief and a melted ice cream? As an island nation we have a particular fascination for gathering at its limits, gazing out to the promises of the horizon, and thinking of what might have been. The seaside crams us full of nostalgia, seafood and sunbathing. But then there is the rainy gloom off-season, the dilapidated boarding houses and the howling winds. And always that Punch and Judy booth, closed until the following year.