YOU may have seen it if you ventured to North Berwick last weekend. The sea was beautifully wild and I had never personally seen the tide so high up against the walls of the houses, although I have been told by residents of recent storms where the sea was higher, and of course the damage to the harbour wall is just one piece of evidence of the sea’s recent rages.

It was Mother’s Day and we’d come to treat Kate to coffee and cake, and a walk along the beach! But when we arrived, the West Beach was completely submerged in a torrent of rage and my kids, for whom North Berwick holds many memories, cried out in awe when they saw the spectacle. A few people were standing and watching by the steps that led to the beach from Forth Street. They were taking photos, as we did.

But such a display of nature’s power is impossible to capture with a photo or film, or in words. It needs to be experienced; you need to feel it with your senses and within your soul: hear the roaring, watch the waves as they roll and crash onto the shore, connect to the awe of it in any way you can by being present.

My adventurous youngest daughter Skye could feel the sea’s power and was desperate to challenge it. I had to stop her from standing on the flat raised cover of the sewage pipe that was only feet from the steps. I understood the temptation, it looked like an island surrounded by white foaming sea, and I too heard the whisper in the wind: “I dare you to stand there!”

But I’m older and allegedly wiser now. So, much to her frustration, I prevented my daughter from standing on the cover and instead promised we’d go to the East Beach, where it would be safer to challenge the sea on the sand.

“You’re being boring,” was the accusation.

Just then, a wave crashed over the cover, carrying the remains of a tree trunk in its wake.

Skye looked at me and I needed no words, all I said was a raised eyebrow.

“OK, let’s go to the East Beach,” she said.

The waves were just as wild there but at least parts of the sand beach were still accessible. The sea pulled away, then threw crashing waves on the beach, and I watched as my kids ran to avoid getting their shoes wet.

Inevitably, the sea won the challenge, and so with wet shoes and now feeling the chill in the air, we ventured into the town for cake and hot chocolate. In the warmth of the cafe, with friendly staff, it tasted all the more luxurious.

I wanted another wander, but the consensus was that the warmth of the cafe was preferable now, given the kids had wet shoes. Actually, I did too.

So I got a free pass to go explore while my family remained cosy. I know North Berwick well, of course, as I’ve visited hundreds of times. But mostly it’s with the kids or when I was a child, or with visitors. It’s a beautiful town and beach connected to holiday trips and weekend adventures. But I had a precious 20 minutes to explore myself and I wanted to discover something I didn’t know, a detail hidden away somewhere I’ve never noticed before.

The moment I walked onto High Street, the tower of St Andrew’s Kirk Ports called to me from beyond the houses. So I ventured to say hi, and entered the graveyard.

You can’t help but notice the kirk, as I always do when I visit the town, but this time I decided to give it my attention rather than a cursory glance. What would I discover?

It opened in 1664, and replaced the older medieval church at Kirk Ness, which had been partially destroyed in a storm in 1652. The ruins of that older church by the Seabird Centre have always fascinated me. But what about this kirk that replaced it, what story would I find here, I thought.

The information board told me that when it was abandoned in 1883, it was because it was too small for an expanding congregation. That seemed ironic, given the number of churches today being abandoned due to dwindling congregations.

To my surprise, I discovered its ruinous state was deliberate, for its roof and fittings, and some masonry, were removed and sold off, while the heritors decided “to allow the walls of the Church to stand to form a picturesque ruin” – typical of the Victorians, I thought to myself.

But all this information you can get from the board by the kirk. What could my senses and curiosity find? I went exploring.

The drama of the shore wasn’t apparent here, instead a stillness seemed to hang in the air, with a feeling of melancholy. So many of the gravestones are leaning over or lying on the ground. Nearly 400 years of North Berwick’s residents lie here. There are people recorded by history who lie here, one being Rev John Blackadder, the outlawed preacher during the time of the Covenanters, who died in the prison on the Bass Rock.

But I wasn’t searching for his grave. I wanted to be led by my inquisitiveness to find something unremarkable to history, yet remarkable in its own right.

I thought I’d found it when I saw through a window a fallen gravestone within the kirk walls. But moments later, I knew I’d found what I was looking for.

At the base of the tower, by the old steps, now covered in pigeon droppings, lay a broken gravestone. I could make out that it was a memorial to the daughter of William Graham and Elizabeth Reid, but I couldn’t make out the daughter’s name without my glasses. She died in 1697 (or perhaps it reads 1699).

I stood for a moment and wondered if their daughter had been a child when she died, and even if not, how tragically common it was for children to predecease their parents in those days. The other part of what I think was the same stone had an hourglass and sexton’s shovel, reminding us that time passes quickly and what awaits us all!

I paid my respects, hoping the lives of this family had at least some joy and fun; perhaps they too played and got wet feet on the beach challenging the waves. I suspected both William and Elizabeth lie in the graveyard too. Then my phone rang and broke my thoughts.

“Dad, where are you?”

I returned to my family.

“Did you find something?” asked Kate.

“I did,” I replied and hugged her, and my kids, and we set off home, having made the most of a precious day.