I feel *so* out of the loop. I have pretty much no idea what’s been going on in the Blogosphere, or with any of my friends, for I’ve not been here for a whole week – I’ve been at the beach. Not only have I not been here physically (okay, there’s a *small* chance I might have found an ice-cream parlour with free Wifi at some point, but at this stage, with 4yr-old Niece and 6yr-old Neff, I’ve rapidly learned to make no plans and hold no expectations!), I haven’t really been ‘here’ mentally, either.
Last year, coming away on holiday was a huge wrench, because I was so hooked into the internet and the support there. The Ten Things of Thankful was still in its very early days, and I was still relying heavily on the ongoing encouragement and reassurance from those around me in the ‘sphere as I struggled to come to terms with the tough realities around me.
They’re still tough, but time has lent distance, and a change in intensity. This year I miss ‘my people’, but I’m not fretting and whining about it. In fact, I’ve been very calm about the whole affair, and have had my laptop shut, completely, for two days, and have been reading and playing board games instead! Course, this could have something to do with the fact that WhatsApp allows me mini-contacts with a few people, so I don’t feel entirely FOMO’d.
But there have been some glorious things on this holiday; well worthy of a little writing immersion. So here goes (settle in – I’ve got a week’s worth of unblogged material)…
1. A mere hour off the ferry, and I discovered it was possible to keep my cool (metaphorically only, because it was HOT!) whilst driving a giant loop along the seaside and through car-parks THREE TIMES to try to find a space. Eventually we got one, and rapidly met with Mum, Niece and Neff, and I insisted that I was going to swim. Niece and Neff were thrilled because they’d been told they could only swim when an adult did, and neither Mum nor Husby were in a swimmingy mood.
The sand was hot on our feet across the beach, and the sea was delightfully clear and warm. Neff and I got straight out there, him clinging to me and shrieking as we bounced in the waves, and he made some valiant efforts at learning to swim (most of these involved hanging off my neck, kicking the water into foam, and screaming with laughter) while Mum took photos. Then the three of us held hands, jumped over waves, watched our shadows against the lightripples on the sandy floor of the bay, splashed each other and lolloped around in the ocean to our hearts’ content. I made them get out at one point, so I could go for a long swim, but once back, there was watermelon and some bodysurfing, as the tide went out and a sandbank made beautiful thigh-high breakers; just right for all of us to try.
2. I’ve been reading The Time Quartet, by Madeleine L’Engle, after a strong recommendation from Samara. A Wrinkle in Time was *beautiful* and I thoroughly recommend it to everyone. The second book is fascinating and when I explained to Neff that there was a dragon in it, he got interested. Since then, I’ve been indulging in the delight which is a rapt, 6-year old weight lying across me, for 15-20 minutes at a time as I read aloud about dragons and cherubim and the mystery which might be found inside mitochondria. He has heard about X-ing and Good vs Evil, Charles Wallace – the boy upon whom the equilibrium of the universe hangs, and that by loving someone truly (in a way beyond just feelings) you make them matter.
3. We hit the beach early on Sunday, and the children were determined to swim again, though squealingly surprised to find that the water at the beginning of a day was a LOT colder than the water at the end of a day. Nonetheless, they made it in (I, somewhat reluctantly, knowing that once I was in it *probably* wouldn’t feel so shivery) and we were standing together, holding hands, when SOMETHING made the water 1 metre ahead of us erupt into Very Big Swirls, signifying a LARGE UNDERWATER PRESENCE! This being a different beach, with cloudier water, we couldn’t see what…so we stood stock still and weighed our options. Probably not a shark. Or a dolphin. Definitely not a whale. And not dragons. Neff suggested a fish, but I thought that even a school of big fish couldn’t have made a swirl that big.
As we deliberated, a blunt, rounded head popped out of the water, a little further away, and a large, liquid black eye gave us a glance, whilst two nostrils puffed out air and water drops, before sinking beneath the waves again. I barely had time to register before my excitement skyrocketed and I pointed (along with everyone else on the beach) and called out “It’s a SEAL!”
The seal rose again, further off, and then seemed to swim away to investigate elsewhere, but a couple walking their dog told me (as I emerged from the sea in a frenzy of excitement, to go and tell Husby) that the seal has been hanging out in the bay ever since the water got warmer, and it has been getting bolder and bolder about being near people (just as well, as the beach is usually thronged, and it was only that we were there early, and some of the first in the sea which made it feel it could come *so* close, because all the onlookers seemed stunned (except Niece and Neff, who really had NO comprehension of how cool an experience this was)). So yeah – I swam with a wild seal, yo!
4. I think my favourite parts of Monday were the middlish part, where I got to lie back on a lounger, in the sun, with my book, whilst Husby and Neff played a game of cricket in the (very large) garden of the place we’re staying; and later, just before bathtime (the kids’ – not mine!) when a snuggle with Niece turned into a singing session – both of us taking turns, and watching her very carefully staring at my mouth as I sang, so that she could copy the words. And holding eye contact (from about 6 inches away) as we sang together in the songs we both knew. And then inventing a song, complete with funny faces, and dissolving into giggles over it. Rinse and repeat with Neff, and there were a couple of *thoroughly* good moments there.
5. For a brief time, I got the internet back on Monday night. WHOOT! And for a shorter time Tuesday!
6. Niece wanted to visit a farm, so we trekked (okay, not really – the whole place is less than 30 miles long) across the backbone of the island to get to the one visitor-friendly farm there was, and it was gorgeous. There were lambs to be fed (at which point Niece scrambled into my arms with the alacrity of a cat and hung, almost from my shoulders, with her legs drawn up, informing me in a panicky voice that she ‘just wanted to watch’), goats to be petted (one with a very fancy, curly horn, which made me smile (so I took a photo for the sake of sharing it with everyone’s favourite goat-centric NinYa, though everyone seemed to think the goat was wearing a hat, which was amusing), bunnies to be stroked, and a tractor ride through some sprinklers, which left everyone soaked and laughing – perfect in the hot sun.
7. More beach, swimming in the clear, sparkling ocean (this time cooler, with a breeze which made us shiver, and made Niece clamber into my arms and wrap herself around me as we bobbed in the swell, trying to steal my heat as we waited for the sun to come out from behind the clouds to warm us up again. A cup of tea and a sticky bun were definitely necessary after that!
8. The promise of time alone with Husby (and some wifi) in an ice-cream parlour means that I *might* even get this TToT list ready to go on Friday, and surprise you all! That said, it also means that the remainder of the week will go undocumented (which is okay) but there will almost certainly be a trip to Shanklin Chine – the most magical place IN THE WORLD BAR NONE – a deep chine, leading to the ocean, filled with ferns and trees and a taaaaallll waterfall, beautiful bridges and a rippling stream; and at night they light it up with every magical colour you can think of, and it turns into a fairyland just perfect for that mode of brain which has just hit the up-side of the sugar rush (cos the Chine is right next to the greatest sweet shop in the world, and the rule is that you go there first and stock up on SUGAR to eat around the chine and ruin your teeth with by the time you get to the beach at the end) and is buzzy and ready to believe in magic.
9. I’ve been amazed to learn that English seashells (and perhaps European seashells in general) are prettier than American seashells, which are allegedly ‘grey and smashed up’…I’d love to learn more about this, because I naively thought that seashells were varied and beautiful wherever you go – talk to me! What are they like where you go to the ocean?
10. We cleaned before we left – we’re coming back to a clean house, rock-solid WiFi, uninterrupted nights’ sleep and our own company. It’s gonna be gorrrgeous. And in the meantime (cos it’s only Wednesday here), there’s LOTS more holiday to go. If you want to recap and see aaaaaaaaaaaaaall the photos, just add me on Instagram.
Enjoy your weekend, and I hope to be able to join in with this one and see what you’ve been up to 🙂