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'The port of Old Harwich can be approached by a streamlined highway through a barren industrial landscape, or via the high street through suburban Dovercourt. Either way, you keep going until you reach the sea: 'and if you get your feet wet, you've gone too far', they'll say when you ask directions. Finally, you reach an enclave of narrow streets lined by small cottages and terraces huddled together with their backs to the North Sea winds and surrounded on three sides by the Stour estuary. Beyond the dock areas, where a variety of fishing boats, yachts, and barges are moored and pigeons and seagulls ride the stiff updrafts, old men in fluorescent jackets mess about in smaller boats. Further away, the concrete and containers give way to a beach lined with pebbles and myriad tiny blue mussels, bleached oysters, and slipper shells. (Author's introduction)