There are few things finer than the spacious feeling that comes with a long weekend holiday. Getting up early, quietly, trying not to disturb a sleeping partner and slipping out of the flat. Funny how noisy everyday actions are when you are trying to be quiet, like turning the key in the lock.
Out into the bright sun of early morning Plymouth and round the Barbican for a walk. So few people around. Some signs of last night’s merry making here and there, abandoned glasses, party balloons. I am imagining some waking up to hangovers today.
I love the sight, sounds and smells of the Barbican by the fishing boats in the morning. Large sea gulls swooping. Nets on decks ready for the next trip out. The reflection of boats in the still water. The way the light falls on the stone buildings. So peaceful.
So I walk, and watch and wonder and stock my mind up with images I can draw on later. The spaciousness of a holiday weekend when there is time just to be wholly in the moment, a welcome break from the cluttered buzzing brain and whirligig of thoughts that make up a working week.
I love British seaside places in the sunshine. One glimpse of blue sky and sun and some accompanying warmth and out come knees that haven’t seen daylight for months. Bottoms of all sorts of shapes and sizes squeezed into last year’s shorts and perhaps there was a brief thought about why they fit a bit more snugly than last year.
Fish and chip shops with queues around the corner. Ice cream cones with real Cornish ice-cream sold from vans like the one in the photo. Brings back memories of a job as a student driving one of these. “Often licked but never beaten” was the slogan on the side. We were taught how to make hollow scoops. Never sat right with me. Mine were always full scoops and sometimes an extra one. It was perhaps that generosity and lack of interest in the advances of one of the bosses that brought about the end of my short career in ice-cream. The vans with their tunes always remind me of that time. “I’m not in love” was the favourite song on the radio that summer. Ah the late seventies.
Plymouth in the sunshine in March.
More smiling at strangers is allowed when the sun shines. Shy somewhat hesitant smiles for some, big generous confident grins for others. I love that. British reserve versus the pull of the sunshine. And the sunshine wins. Just.
A story within a story.
Today I was helping my nearly 84 year old father with proofing his book, the story of his life. He says he never really knew his own father so wanted to make sure none of his children or grandchildren said the same.
It’s full of stories and photos of times gone by. A home on Lake Naivasha as a child. Unspoilt beaches in the south of Spain where now tourists in droves stay in big apartments and hotels and eat food they can have at home. Being sent off to boarding school at 7. A trip in one of the very first coach trips ever to Italy with his very eccentric mother at the end of the Second World War, surviving hairpin bends through the mountains. Fabulous photos of my glam looking mother and my father with his famous grin and sense of fun. Lots of adventures while stationed in Gibraltar, Kenya and Cyprus. Army, family, travel and times and people he will always treasure. Then settling finally in Plymouth, the end of army life and the beginning of a new one. A full life, and wonderful to have so much of it captured there in that book for us all.
A small observation read today I had forgotten hearing him talk about before. He writes about coming into a barn in Kenya when I was about 3, drawn by my squeals of laughter. There I stood, laughing and pointing. And there reared up facing me, very close, a cobra.
He still shudders now at what might have been.