We’re staying on the same caravan site (hills, fields, wind and glimpses of sea) but have acquired a new-to-us van in a quiet spot beside the forest. We’ll not hear the 3am basketball games any more.
The new green caravan is about half the age of the crumbly one and feels frankly luxurious to us. Not just bedrooms and plumbing, but 3 bedrooms and a separate shower room and WC. The kitchen has more storage and space than the one at home- not that we’ll be wildly creative- but ooh, the novelty.
As before, the built in caravan fabrics are horrible (orange) and will be disguised by any amount of cream throws. It may take some time to deal with the curtains, but we’ll have years. A trip to IKEA this week gathered extension leads, those throws and some lamps. I’m sure I’ll need to go back, but Spurs fan is hoping that can be delayed until April. Yeah.
A weekend of excitement looms. A space to be defined and adorned. A whole new representation of us.
If we can survive the cleaning, the packing, the unpacking, and the shuttling between tin cans.
I like the seaside. Emptiness, wind, sea. Freshness. Beginnings, renewal, power.
Shells in my pocket. The little bundles of sand my feet bring home.
I love time on the beach, any beach. I’m not fussy.
Well, actually, I’m really fussy. I’ve just learned that there are many sorts of good beach and to enjoy all of them. Not all are lucky enough to be the ultimate in beaches.
Yesterday, we were there. The beach which is imprinted on my brain. The beach upon which all others are judged. There is a road to it. There are no facilities- no cafes, deckchairs or even a Portaloo. I don’t want those. They have their place, but not here. Those are for beaches that are busy. This beach is never busy.
The sun was out. We had just collected Girl1 from a fun hardworking week immersed in the Irish language- school, games, social life, staying in native speaking home in the Gaeltacht.
We took a trip to the seaside. The west. In February. You’d be correct in assuming we were well wrapped up.
The caravan was intact, if a little mouldy round the edges. One nearby was not so lucky. Winter storms had taken its roof. Had that happened us, I’d be distressed about the curtains and very important decorations, Spurs Fan would be annoyed about the satellite dish, and the girls would take the opportunity to encourage us to upgrade. They’ll slum it for another while.
We hadn’t made the journey in months, so we noticed the roadworks that were finally finished, the house that got sold, the trimmed hedges and the fresh paint. We cheered for our own identifiers- the bike shop, the donut & wine shop, little heather hill. It feels like home.
Not for the first time, we crossed the island under a cloud. The only dry spot between the east coast city and the Atlantic ocean was the beach. Havoc wreaked by the winter was there also, dunes and paths washed away, debris and rubbish washed high.
The girls were still teaching me about taking photographs on my phone- panoramas, filters, video and other oddities.
Then the beach worked its magic and they ran off to be children, exploring, discovering and laughing.
Stylish people of the whole wide world, I have a confession.
Somewhere this summer, possibly in Somerset, a switch flicked in my head.
I have long been a wearer of comfortable shoes. I don’t do proper heels and have a dodgy foot, so I find a brand of comfy shoes and stick with it. That’s not to say I don’t have lots of shoes that have been experiments, or that may get worn again eventually, once, but generally I’m not a shoe person.
Even so, I have always resisted the lure of brightly coloured plastic ‘shoes’. Why would I want to look like I have clown shoes on my feet? My legs are stumpy enough, those things would only emphasise that. How can I pretend to have long, lean legs if there are big bright blobs drawing attention to where they end?
During the heat of July, Girl2 struggled with her footwear. Everything cut or rubbed her bare feet. I found an unexpected solution in the ugly plastic things. No more moans, cuts or blisters. Her feet are the same size as mine; I discovered the comfort.
A little niggle started in the back of my mind. Caravan. Beaches. Walking. Where nobody could see me.
Yes, yes I did.
Feel free to scoff. I’m in Donegal and can’t hear you.