There’s a feeling in the air. Maybe it’s the darker mornings and evenings. Maybe it’s the grass not needing to be mown every two weeks. Maybe it’s the slow creep of blackberries on every bush around here or the shadows changing in the garden as the earth slowly spins away from summer.
August is almost over. We are hurtling towards the new shiny page of September. Driven by husbandface’s job, each September is a launch into new routines and rhythms. I feel unprepared, still getting over my operation, not wanting to jump into a new year.
So let’s not think about that for a while… We still have 5 days left of holiday to suck the marrow out of. For now here are the rest of my holiday diaries from earlier in the summer. They chart the progression of anticipation, euphoria, disappointment at the lack of perfection and acceptance that holidays are what they are and it is a good thing to come home.
Sitting on the ferry on the second day of our adventures. So far these are the most restful days we’ve had for a while. Sitting in a car, playing on a beach, discovering shells for son1s new
Pirate Treasure Chest, being taken care of by old friends and now enjoying gazing at the open water. My boys are enthralled by the boat and, for a moments quiet time, Bob the Builder on the phone. They are excited by all the new things we are seeing and doing. I am full of love for these goons and glad we are restoring and rebuilding relationship after the stress and anger of this last month or so.
It is good to get away from our home for a bit, lovely to be out on the open road, changing the routine for a while, seeing new landscapes. My soul needs this beauty and the blankness of new things. No memories assault my senses yet, no things to do around the house, no jobs, no chores, just a call to love the three people in my immediate vision and to remember the love of my Maker. The one who makes sense of this world. The one, without whom I cannot understand life. The one who I find it so hard to get, who moves so slowly and silently much of the time.
The sea stretches out far far into the distance. Our boat a mere speck in the vast landscape around. I read again the words in the old old book, that speak of love, provision, refuge, strength, shelter the words that call me to belief in the more than this of our lives.
The sea is big. This boat is relatively small. The world is wide and vast and somewhere hope is stirring on the horizon that this holiday/adventure thing will bring restoration and joy.
First day in Ireland:
The first day of holiday is over, I walk up creaking stairs in our cottage, pause outside the room our beautiful boys lie sleeping in and wonder whether to gaze on their faces. Common sense prevails and I move past, hearing their heavy breathing as I head to our bed. I slip in beside my pale exhausted husband and listen to his sleep.
Today started with a run, legs steering me down a road until time told me to turn around. Morning stretched through coffee, tea, bacon sandwiches and dancing boys. Light rain stroked our faces as we pottered slowly around low mountain trails. Tea, cake, birds and the smallest grinning spinning in the rain.
We stayed close to home, exploring seaweed covered rocks, waterfalls, playgrounds and fresh new air. Words spilled out of our mouths as soft as the rain on our heads. Words to encourage the small ones, noticing the good in their behaviour and character. Words to nourish and bring life. The immediate drew me into the present moments to listen, to see, to engage. Patient voices spoke softly over dinner. Two pairs of eyes closed rapidly as they lay in safe arms and beds.
We escaped from Forbidden Island. We drank wine and I read and read. Encapsulated in the world of my novel, far far from home. The world I left behind seems a million miles away. All I have is here. This inbetween time, this place to notice the beauty around me and in my loves, the ones birthed from this body and the one who played his part in bringing blossoms onto a winter tree stark on the hill.
We share this space, this tender raw hope lined place with friends who have walked so many miles with us and who now we dwell with in these strange times. Not knowing where the wind will take us or what our journeys will be like but knowing that now we have each other and that is enough. For the first time in a while we don’t talk about church, the crazy month we have just been through. We exist together, we drink tea and sit on sofas, we rest and are still and it is enough.
Half way through the first week of ‘holiday’. The last couple of days have been interesting. Son1 misses his toys and parks and doesn’t really understand why we are still in this random cottage in a place where it doesn’t stop raining. Son2 is generally happy running around charming everyone in the cottage. Husbandface is in and out of reality and I spent a day throwing up.
Today the sun shone for the first time and we went on a boat trip around a pretty inlet. Idyllic except for the whining voice in my ear demanding jelly fish and asking why were there no jelly fish and when were the jelly fish going to come? For a whole hour. A whole hour. I tried to appreciate the mountains but something went wrong with my beauty filter and I just got cross with the whiny whine whining.
We ate mussels from a road side cafe which were pretty awesome. And this afternoon we might hit the beach again if the rain holds off. Oh once more I rue the difference between holidays now and holidays back before the small ones came on the scene. This year though I don’t even have the energy to be sad about not being able to run up the mountains around me. One day we may be able to do that but I sense the whining voice will be around for a while.
The problem with holidays is that they are billed as events to get away from it all. Trouble is you generally take most of the tricky points of life away with you- yourself and family. I wish I didn’t have to compromise. I wish I was having deep profound moments with God. I wish I didn’t have to take care of my small ones for a couple of days, I wish they were happy all the time, I wish I could do what I want to do and that everyone else could be happy doing what they are doing. I want perfection. Dammit.
Alas. I have been at this frustrating point before. Holidays are what they are. Strange weeks where we go somewhere else to get away from life only to discover life comes with us in some form or other. They have genius moments in them and hideous moments in them. In short they are a little bit of everyday life in a different place. It is still good to be away from home, to hang with friends, to see pretty views and enjoy the boys with others around to help entertain them.
(We then had some fun times, I swam in the sea, we drove to Northern Ireland and had fun with the family. Son1 and I both lived on the edge of sanity a bit and we all craved a bit of routine)
The last day
We’ve made it to the end of our challenge adventure with two small children. Just a ferry trip and uber amounts of driving to go and we’ll be home sweet home. The last day held swirls of emotions as we visited the house where Husbandface grew up and cleared out a bit of his mum’s old stuff, then a visit to her grave and more helping son1 understand what happened to Granny Cunningham. Chill out and final fun times with the family followed with a birthday celebration for our nephew. We packed the car up, ate cake, watched Sister Act and set the alarm for silly o’clock.
And so we find ourselves on the ferry once more. 3 and a half hours of trying to entertain small children and help them not meltdown after such an early start. This ferry doesn’t have such soft play joy as the last one. But there is a tv screen and some toys so we should be ok for a bit.
We are glad to be going home, as much as I love being away from everything, 2 weeks is a long time to be away from routines and friends. We love Brighton. We love our life there and our friends. We love our house, garden and bed. We love routine and normality and train track.
And maybe that’s the point of holiday after all. Not the perfect moments or amazing experiences but the simple love of home once more. We go away to remember why we don’t move away. We go away to remember and appreciate the value of being rooted in one place as part of community. We go away so we can return refreshed by change and glad that we don’t have to spend more time away.