All posts tagged: travel

Return

  It’s our second day back from two and a half weeks in France. The older two are at tennis (finally the perfect day for it: blue-skied, low 20s), & Pops is sitting on the rug setting up the tea party for Zeezee his zebra’s 100th birthday (‘He’s got very old suddenly,’ T commented. ‘He was ten last week.’). Coming home is, I find, always a different experience. There are times when the house seems impossibly narrow or shabby or filled with cat hair (and, being honest, cat shit), & then there are the times when it seems we’re ridiculously lucky to be living right here, where we are, in the middle of our terrace, in the middle of this small city. Fortunately, this time, despite the almost obligatory welcoming rain, it all seems pretty perfect. The roses & sweet peas are still blooming. The self-seeded nasturtiums have gone wild. The grass is long & thick. Inside, each corner reveals its own secrets. The string-of-hearts hanging from the bathroom cabinet. The now cryptic Post-It notes on my desk (‘inhabiting …

Summer

Now all the doors and windows are open, and we move so easily through the rooms. Cats roll on the sunny rugs, and a clumsy wasp climbs the pane, pausing to rub a leg over her head. from ‘Philosophy in Warm Weather’ by Jane Kenyon That weather when our bodies feel soft and open, adrift in warm air. That’s when I know that summer’s here. And, finally, it is. All I want to do is lie in the garden & read. But not quite yet. July is going to be an exciting month for our little family. We’ve got a 90th birthday party, a ballet exam & a wedding, and then — though if you’d told me this a week ago I wouldn’t have thought it possible — then, we’re flying to California for a month. As I said to B last night, if it wasn’t happening to me, it’s the kind of thing that would really annoy me. There is an unexpected gap of four weeks when the kids are off school and nothing …

Barbara Hepworth

  “Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic. For ten years I had passed by with my shopping bags not knowing what lay behind the twenty foot wall…Here was a studio, a yard and garden, where I could work in open air and space.” from Barbara Hepworth — A Pictorial Autobiography Back to St Ives & our magical visit to the Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden one late-autumn morning. The light was amazing: winter sun low in the sky, filtering through the foliage and burnishing the bronze. The shadows of leaves playing on stone. And then B showed me the shadows the sculptures cast on other elements of themselves.   Hepworth bought Trewyn Studio in 1949 and lived and worked there from 1950 until her death in 1975. The studio leads directly into the garden, which she gradually filled with her work. The parish church & sea are just visible over the garden wall. And, everywhere you look: green & Hepworth’s sculptures. Bamboo, palm trees; a rose, fuchsias, Japanese anemones; a small pond; …

Notebook: two journeys

25 October. The journey, nightmare long. 11ish before we set out; 3.30 by the time we’d covered the 140 miles to Castle Drogo. Driving past Stonehenge — seeing it for the first time — and how close you are. First a pattern of people in the distance, ring-fenced it turned out, a circle of black figures against green field. The stones themselves, ancient, humping — lower to the ground, more worn than I had known. The road passes close — the traffic jam seemingly just people gazing at the stones. Green. Hills and rolling valleys. Sheep: white and brown. South Somerset, & then Devon. Castle Drogo and the sun low in the sky. Light grazing the autumnal trees as the little ones run through the gardens. Vague echoes of being here as a child, running myself. Beech nuts out of their three-sided cupules. The castle shrouded in white for its restoration. Then another two hours: Dartmoor and Bodmin. Chimney stacks and wind turbines. The road faster now: up hills and down. Until, finally, in the …

St Ives

Half-term, and we’ve escaped to St Ives. We make like the three bears and have porridge for breakfast, with a starter of grapefruit & a dessert of chocolate-spread covered toast. Mornings on one of the beaches, sipping coffees & watching the little ones mess about in the sand. Lunch back in the cottage that T insists has come straight from a fairytale: Cornish pasties or scrambled eggs, maybe leftovers from the night before. Afternoons, and B works while I read Littlenose — my own brother’s childhood favourite & staple of my babysitting years — to T & the Moose, and the littlest bear sleeps off his sandy adventures. A walk into town with one or other of the older children to buy provisions and visit the wonderful bookshops. Dinner together & then a round of Uno. Evenings: for more work and for reading. Mint tea before bed. The perfect routine.  

Happiness is at the farm

We’ve been camping. Camping in Brittany. Camping, to be precise, in Finistère: the end of the world. We stayed on a beautiful dairy farm, with goats, pigs, donkeys, rabbits and geese, as well as the cows and their calves. It was pretty magical. But also pretty cold and wet. I now finally understand those tactful comments people made when I told them where we were going. My lovely neighbour who told me of her many trips camping in France, her many trips to Brittany, but never, as far as she could remember, camping in Brittany. Later, B told me that she’d said to him that they’d bought a caravan in the end after getting washed-out one summer. Still, the enormous tent we bought second-hand on eBay in December (a cheap time to buy a tent!) but hadn’t had time to put up, did have all its parts, and was wonderfully waterproof. And it only took us an hour and three-quarters to put up in the pouring rain, and, well, about five hours to pack it …

Summer

Today was the first day of T’s summer holiday, so we hit the beach. I have a secret rule of making the first and last days of the summer holidays particularly special – a sleight of hand by which I hope they will remember their summers as being good ones, magical ones even, as summers should be. And it was a good day. An amazingly good day considering I took three children to the beach alone for the first time. I grew up in the Midlands, hours from the nearest sea (Weston-super-Mare where, famously, the tidal range is so great that the low tide mark is a mile from the sea front), so the idea of going to the beach for the day is still novel to me and we still have many beaches to check out. This is Lepe Country Park and you can see the Isle of Wight across the Solent. T gives it ten out of ten. If I were making an album of memories, I would slip today – three swim-suited …