My house could fall into the sea

Every winter we're never quite sure whether we're going to have another season here. Happisburgh [in north Norfolk] has lost 26 properties since 1990. Everybody says, Oh, you must hate the sea but I don't. I still love it - I just wish it would keep back a bit.

I moved here in 1970. It seemed the ideal place to set up a guesthouse with Jill, my partner. I had always known the area because my grandmother lived here when I was young. This is the same road where she used to live, and I used to come for holidays.

It's a lovely, remote area where the air is clean and the skies are wonderful. And that hasn't changed. The only change has been in the coastline. For 50 or 60 years, nothing happened. Then, suddenly, it just galloped. In 1993, the revetment - the barrier built to keep the sea at bay - began to deteriorate. And that seemed to be fatal. Between the house and the sea was a back road that we could drive down and a row of bungalows, and now they've all gone. When the bungalows got to within about six metres of the edge, people were asked to leave. They were given council accommodation, but originally the householder was expected to pay for the destruction of their own house. It's an awful thing, isn't it?

At the end of 2002, a group of council officers came to see us. They said we couldn't expect to have this house beyond the next winter. They gave me a form to fill in to go on the homeless list. It doesn't feel very nice. It pulls you up rather short.

The houses are valueless because you get no insurance, no compensation. When we bought them, it was a protected coastline, but there's been a complete change of policy. There's compensation if they decide that they're going to build an airfield or widen a road, but not for this because they say it's nature.

Behind us we've got about 17 metres of garden. They say that when it gets to 10 metres the house needs to be demolished. We've got only half the floor of the garage left. Obviously you do feel that you're in a very precarious position. It can be frightening in a really bad storm. You can hear the sea, and occasionally you hear the plonk of a bit of cliff falling down. We look over the edge almost every day to check what is happening. It's rather like a terminal disease. It may sound strange, but you get used to it.

We've got wonderful memories. It was where I had always wanted to live. And I still do. We have better sea views than we've ever had. If the sea would just stay where it is, it would be perfect, but it doesn't do that, unfortunately.