Our tiny family is wonderful and we’ve had a lovely few months.
We are so fine, in fact, that I’ve felt uncomfortable writing about our adventures here – like sharing our lovely normal somehow turns up the volume on how unjust this world has been for others.
I read the news and feel such heartache*. There is so much injustice for so many.
And closer to home too, we’ve sat, equally uselessly, on the sidelines as some of our very nearest and dearest have faced some of the heaviest that this life can bring. It feels like there have been too many dark days for too many wonderful people.
With the proverbial hitting the fan all around us, writing on this blog has seemed so irrelevant, so totally indulgent. I don’t kid myself – I know this is just a tiny wee blog in the back blocks of the internet, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to tell you of our own fancy free times. Clearly, the Catholic guilt instilled in me in the eighties and nineties is still turned up to high.
But everything, if you wait long enough, will end. I know this phase will bookend, and when it does, when we hit rougher seas in life again, we will want to have all of the wonderful times we are having right now, recorded here too.
So, I’m back. And selfishly sharing August.
Juju and Diddy, some very dear friends of ours visited us whilst they were here from New Zealand.
I’m quite often quite lonely here. I don’t want that to sound woebegone as we aren’t short on company, or things to do, at all. But I suppose there is no substitution for friends who really, really know me. There ain’t no inventing it, and patience has never been my virtue. So I kind of devoured their company. We walked, and ate and drank (a little too much) beer and traipsed about the countryside whilst debating all the world’s problems. It was so good to see them.
We took Lorna, Marcus’ Mum, away for a birthday weekend in North Wales. It was so lovely to be able to do so. We stayed in a wee house in Conwy, with a view of the top of the castle. There was a River Festival on whilst we were there. Albie had a jet-ski ride which he was totally enlivened by.
His penchant for motorsports continues – motorcross and race-car driving are mysteriously and disturbingly at the top of his ‘things I want to do when I grow up’ list at the moment. I’m trying to translate his enthusiasm for both speed and danger into some more sedate sports – ones that might just break bones rather than break lives.
He is confident and cavalier and makes my heart soar with pride.
We checked out a few historic places, ate lunch in a lovely pub, walked the castle walls that surround the village. Passerbys *probably* guessed we were family.
The next day dawned fine so we went to the nearby seaside town of Llandudno. Llandudno is this gorgeous Victorian resort town that hasn’t lost any of it’s charm. The morning called for a promenade, and so promenade we did.
Albie continues to insist on pulling up his socks. It’s totally cute. At the end of the pier, he had a fierce air hockey showdown with Grandma. All eyes on the scoreboard! 5-5.
After (a decidedly average) lunch, we took an amazing old Victorian tram up a rather massive hill and entered the Great Orme Mine, the largest Bronze Age mine in the world. Now, I can’t say that mines have ever really been big on my to-do list, but Marcus convinced us it was worth a poke about. He was right – it was absolutely incredible. The mines themselves were only discovered in the 1980’s, as a land survey for a planned carpark revealed a labyrinth of tunnels underground – nine levels in all. We walked just two levels underground and I was relieved to get back above the earth. Cave legs I have not.
The tunnels themselves were, cold, wet and dark – basically what you’d expect of a tunnel. But to think they were mined 3,500 years ago with nothing more than stone and bone tools? That just catapulted them from unremarkable to Totally Wow!! The finest tunnels I ever have seen.
And then to Bodnant Gardens, a National Trust garden. An idyll of horticulture amongst clouded Welsh hills. It was beautiful.
On the way home from Wales, we dropped in to see Morley, Marcus’ sister’s wee boy, who was at Alder Hey Childrens’ Hospital in Liverpool for a time. They had a pretty rough summer. Like right up there. I don’t have either the licence or the strength to tell you what happened for the little man -suffice to say, for completely different reasons, he now has a chest zipper scar just like Albie’s.
After such a walloping roller coaster they’ve, quite rightly, pulled roots and gone to Portugal for six months. We will miss them, especially at Christmas, but I’m glad they’re taking the family time that they need to too. Full on, life-stretching stuff.
One more story…..
We went to Lancaster one evening to watch Oliver Twist, which was performed in scenes all around Williamson Park. It was one of those still summer nights that I often hanker for, and we went with a delicious new friend of mine and her lovely family. The rather convoluted Dickensian plot went a little bit over Albie’s head, but he revelled in staying up well after dark, as did Fred.
I asked Albie the next day what he had liked best about the play. His reply?
“Driving home with all the lights shining on the motorway.”
I quickly packed away all my own notions of what made the night great – this plot twist and that sunset, and just listened to him, his eyes on fire with remembering.
“You’re right Albie. The road home was AMAZING.”
There is an ebb and flow to this life that I am continually trying to surrender to. Who knows what is next for our family – but I do know what has been now.
And now, for us, is pretty darn good.
*we registered ourselves to host a refugee, as we have a spare room (it’s pretty tiny, but it is spare). I’m not sure we’ll get called, as they’ve been inundated with offers (yay!), but hopefully…..It’d be an honour and we’d all learn a great deal. We also donated to MOAS who are doing great work in the Mediterranean every day. If you want to do something useful about the refugee crisis, this is a good place to start.