Sunday, July 25th
Today we found our holiday stride. A relaxing morning at our new cottage, which is in the centre of a town this time. A stroll around the streets. And even though it is Sunday and nearly everything is shut and very sleepy, there was an excellent coffee shop open and the smell wafting from through the chain curtain in the doorway was divine. It was one of the best lattes I have ever had. There was even a little latte art leaf in the foam of my to-go cup. There was a lid on the cup when they handed it to me. I never would have known if I hadn't been tempted to peek. That is a sign of a barista that loves his job. A Love Warrior Barista, if you will. Putting everything into that cup of Joe without any attachment to outcome. Knowing that I might never see that artful foam. And I could taste the love.
The blue sky was beginning to show itself as we left the supermarket with our rations for the day. We packed them in our cooler and headed out in search of sun, history and a place to use our bandy net. We have our faithful sidekick Villie in tow this weekend. Dave's friends have been joining us on weekends or when they can get a day off work. Things seem lighter on those days. More carefree. I think there are many reasons for that. But one of them simply comes down to the fact that with at least one adult always on duty with child minding there is never a time that we are completely free to engage in one another. I often find myself sitting in the car with a sleeping baby and my iPhone or knitting while Dave explores a standing stone with Meg. But with another adult along it allows for at least two grown-ups to participate in some stimulating, intellectual (or completely juvenille) exchange. Funny that...connecting as a family seems to work better with a welcome and companianable interloper. It does help that Villie is one of the most cheerful, easy going and engaging guys I know ( and he's single - goodness knows why).
We wound our way over the country roads towards the coast and the ruins of Red Castle (which is indeed rather red). After hiking up a steep trail through nettles, thistles and very spiky bushes, which Meg calls a briar patch, we reached the spectacular ruins of Red Castle. We were even more taken with the vast, clear, sandy beach below. So Dave and Villie went back to the car for our lunch and the bandy net and we headed for the beach. By the time we made our way down the path the sun was ablaze and we were sorry we hadn't selected a slightly different wardrobe this morning. Shoes were removed, jeans rolled up and the wading began. We chased after little fish with our net and marvelled at how warm the North Sea water felt where it was shallow enough for the sun to warm and the tide was not yet coming in. Meg began to sing and wander about without a thought to the rest of us. You always know she is happy when she is singing to herself. The sun was warm but the breeze kept us cool. Lola watched it all from my back. Proudly perched in the carrier. Legs swinging, squaking and laughing as she watched Meg run through the waves. Eventually Meg opted to remove her pants and prance through the waves in her knickers. Lola was put down on the sand to play. We enjoyed our very sandy picnic lunch. This was it. This is what I had been waiting for. It's not as though I hadn't been enjoying myself for the last two and a half weeks. I really have. I've seen loads of new things, seen old things with new eyes and spent precious time with my family. Today felt different. The sun was shining. Over the last few days as the sun has shone briefly here and there I have realized what a difference that makes. We can sit on the grass, eat our lunch outside the car, let our children play... It has been hard being cooped up all together so much. And this country really reveals it's incredible beauty in the summer sun.
As the tide slowly moved the shoreline closer to our picnic spot the sky began to darken with stormy clouds. The water lapping in from the sea was cold now. Not so inviting for wading and beachcombing. We had spent a surprisingly long time on that beach. I think we'd have stayed much longer if those clouds hadn't signalled the end of our time there. We packed up our stuff, dusted the sand off of our feet and reluctantly put them back in our shoes. On the hike back to the car Lola fell asleep on my back. We shifted her carefully from my back to her seat without waking her and the journey turned quiet. Peaceful.
We were stopped at Resteneth Priory when she finally woke. I took her out of the car for a stretch and opened the boot to change her bum. I laid the change pad out in the bottom of the boot and popped her down on it. When I pulled off the wee diaper pants and a small pile of sand was deposited on the change pad I knew we were in for a treat. The poor sweet dolly had a bum full of damp sand.
You know you've had a good day when you find sand in her nappies.