Friday, August 04, 2006

Happy times

As I’ve said already, Cornwall was sublime. We drove down
(a long journey by UK standards,- 5 hours plus,- so my reluctant decision to leave dogs at home was probably wise) in teeming rain, but by the time we reached the cottage, right out on the Lizard peninsula, the evening was clear and still.
Rapturous welcome from N and her labradors, time to breathe then a walk down to the bay. All utterly perfect.
TeaThaimGirl, who is a true Romantic, has had a yen for Cornwall for years and years (probably since her early exposure to the tale of The Mousehole Cat) so she was in seventh heaven…N and I were just thrilled to be together in such a beautiful place, with none of the time pressures that usually characterise our meetings. And the dogs managed that big-dog balance between joyful exuberance and companionable stillness which Jack Russells just don’t do.
The cottage is a lovely converted barn…not at all polished but comfortable and homey. N and her husband have been coming there since their grown-up boys were tiny. Another family who own the main house also holiday there each summer, so there is a wonderful community feeling with people surging from one house to the other for coffee, gin, conversation at regular intervals…TTG was adopted by adoring small boys, who were willing slaves when she created beach art, and even found me enough "mermaids tears" (those bits of broken glass turned by the sea to polished magic)to transform a rather tired candle-lamp at home

The next 2 days were an amazing blend. Walking the coastal path, flopping onto the springy turf to gaze and gaze (no seals in sight, but egrets, cormorants and the sun on the waves to enthrall us);
seeking out standing stones to find their way into one of TTG’s novels; fresh crab sandwiches and clotted cream ice-cream; raucous singing of half remembered sea-chanties; the sort of prolonged comfortable silence that can last between good friends without any anxiety; hysterical laughter as TTG and I realised just how hopeless we were at rowing in a straight line. Is that the ENFP coming out again, I wonder....infinite diversions, no matter what!

I spent a wee while feeling sad that my children hadn't had this sort of summer relationship with a place whose familiarity is part of the joy of rediscovery each year. (indeed, because we ran a B&B all the time we were living in our old house, we didn’t really do family holidays at all)…
Then I realised (bright woman, Kathryn) that we’d had the same rituals attached to the annual mother/children visits to see Eirene in Sussex,- but because, for me that was "going home" I'd simply not seen it. In the same way, I thought for a wistful moment “My childhood wasn’t like that either”…
Errr, no…because the sea was on the doorstep…there was no need to go anywhere…eating sun- warmed cherries from a brown paper bag on the beach was part of life. I just didn’t notice it was special, because it was always there,- but there are so many happy memories waiting to be woken when I find myself in the right conditions,- and these past days have been absolutely right!
Those summers in Sussex have stopped now, since Eirene has moved away – at about the same stage in my children's lives(though less drastically) as my own long summers ended...
I’m hoping I’ve given them enough memories to key into for the years ahead. For me, summer childhoods need to be full of that easy, lazy rhythm of the waves on the shore…
Thank you, N and F for the gift of these days away. Thank you, God, for introducing us on our first weekend at vicar-school. I feel very blessed.

1 comment:

Songbird said...

My mother had a childhood friend whose summer home was her summer destination, the definition of "summer vacation." Such special times for her. I feel for my children what you describe, wish we had that cottage to withdraw to in the summer.
I love the image of the sun-warmed cherries--beautiful!