Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category
Ahead of time, I give you day 18 of the challenge,
the prompt: cheap earrings
We laughed as we walked
through the streets,
boys calling out,
We got lost,
found our way, by asking
‘dove il Duomo?’
working back from there.
We tired of statues of David,
laughed some more,
arm in arm through the Uffizi,
then stopped as we caught sight of the real one,
illuminated by sunlight,
at the far end of the gallery.
In a street behind Santa Croce,
I bought those earrings,
brass crescent moons,
cost me 6000 lira.
I lost them years ago,
and then the other,
but I still have the copy of A Room With a View.
Maybe we should go back,
now we’re old ladies,
see who calls out
There were swans flying over the motorway as huge as gliding jets.
Sudden reminder that nature belongs more than we do,
with our outlandish modes of transportation.
They flying ‘as the crow’ and us having to follow roads.
They seemed magnified, and out of scale
with the stuff that went below.
Thoughts of mating for life, swan song
come to mind
and leave me thinking even more
I am not for this world
I cannot glide.
Another starting point for a poem
I am feeling rather grandmotherly as I prepare for the imminent arrival of two little-ings from Paree… the step-children. A bouncy boy (more of a Tigger than a boy reallly), who smiles at everything unless it displeases him in which case we get a quick scowl before the smile returns (he can’t keep it up for long) and his sister, for whom I believe, life is a series of puzzles and conundrums that she is forced to deal with at the hands of adults. Whilst her brother bounces around crashing into the day, she eyes it up, assessing the pros and cons, gauging the players in it before responding to them – the result being, when she does accept and react to you, a feeling of such satisfaction, it makes the wait worthwhile. I’m covering all bases here as far as sleeping arrangements go… pink bedding in The Lovely J’s room, put-you-up at the side for one or two boys, or… girls dorm and boys dorm with the two boys top-and-tailing in Curly Boy’s room, or… visitors in our bed with dad, and me in Lovely J’s bed or… “I expect,” their dad says, “you’ll all end up in one bed, with me on the floor.”
Now I’ve done this stepping thing before… sadly it has all come to an abrupt halt due to, I do not know what… since their father and I parted ways I have not heard a whisper from either of them… less of a concern for the older one who is now almost 30, but for the younger – we met when she was 7 and now she’s 18 – it is like losing a part of the family. I have no way of knowing exactly why she has chosen not to respond to cards and letters and emails, even texts. The break up with her father was an extremely complicated and dramatic one, involving lies about being hospitalised, which uncovered a web of lies stretching back over 10 years. I am left, well actually we (friends, family, children) have all been left wondering what was true and what was not – sadly the little girl I have watched progress from long white socks (which she wore with everything) to having her first tattoo, seems to be a casualty of it all.
My nature is to be persistent, to let the people I care about know that I care, but in this case I am wondering if it might just be best to let it all go and leave that decision to her.
A rare weekend to be shared with Curly Boy, no plans, no distractions, usual chores, but they can wait. “What shall we do then… you and me?” I ask him, expecting the usual suggestions.
“Let’s just drive,” he laughs, “we could go to France, get on a boat…”
“We could…” my mind racing over the details of the spreadsheet imprinted on the inside of my eyelids… income, expenditure. Little room for manoeuvre on these shores, let alone ABROAD.
He shuffled off to bed, leaving me a-Googling. St Malo, Zeebruge, Dublin, Caen… Dunkirk! £17 day return! An adventure for under £20 (yes I know there’s fuel on top) but adventure on foreign shores for £17? All I need now is a hi-vis jacket, warning triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher and I’m sorted.
And so I find myself on Day 1 of The Holidays. Eight weeks stretch before me. A tatty, untidy, rather grubby house surrounds me. An unpublished novel and unanswered mail wink at me from a pile on what we laughingly call ‘the dining room table’.
I was woken by a solitary magpie doing sentry duty across the skylight at gods know what time (watch strap broken, not wearing watch, must get new strap). In the street I can hear the deafening tinkle of glass being hurled into the bin truck by the recycling men (quick, put bin and glass box out before they get to us).
The phone rings, it is school: can Tall Boy and Lovely J please return their text books today or tomorrow or their results will not be released (don’t be ridiculous! They can’t NOT give results because a few text books are due – YAWN – school never changes, empty threats about nonsense whilst the bullies and cheats go unchallenged).
There is a strange odour coming from under the floorboards, reminiscent of last year when the soil pipe cracked and leaked under us. Please let it not be the same again!
The blue Ikea bags full of ‘to do/to sort’ seem to have multiplied. Tall Boy appears in boxers, his head banging into the paper-sphere light shade (which I keep promising I will change to spare him the indignity of it falling onto his head every time he passes and knocks it) – ‘anything for breakfast?’
Eight weeks? I can get it ALL done in eight weeks can’t I? Get novel published, finish second one, tidy house, paint house, get first year accounts sorted and tax done, MOT car, swap it for bigger one, go on Arvon course, go to Wales for ‘holiday’, keep on top of allotment, rebuild rabbit hutch, phew!
Well Ostuni, which is where we spent a week this summer, is very Italian, but also very Greek, in architecture at least. In the streets which surround the cathedral I felt like I was back in Crete.
We stayed in the old town in an apartment owned by a lovely English couple, Tim and Angela Devlin. L’Alcova is one of the apartments in an old olive factory lovingly restored by the couple, which they call Casa Tavani. They greeted us like old friends and by the end of the week we felt that we were just that. Between them they have had (and continue to do so) a fantastic life, we swapped stories and adventures, they accepted my title of ‘writer’ with good faith despite never having read a word I have written. I am learning to be less embarrassed about telling people what I do – it is my other half who used to say, ‘Anne’s a writer’ and I would cringe with embarrassment as people would ask what I had published. But more and more I think people are realising (me included) that being a writer doesn’t mean you have to be a best seller and so don’t expect to have read anything you have written or heard about it on the telly. What’s more, every time I tell someone new that I am a writer, it opens up all sorts of opportunities. Sometimes it is ideas, another time a contact, sometimes just encouragement. Angela and Tim gave me some contacts I might pursue, they have both published over the years in their own fields. So really now I have admitted to myself that writing is the thing that keeps me going, outside of family, housework, day job, I find it keeps me working harder at it. I suppose everybody needs something to lift them out of the everyday, music or painting or films or making things.
Anyway, our accommodation in Ostuni was fantastic. Angela has a great eye for detail, each apartment is decorated in a mixture of traditional and modern furniture, with paintings and accessories which make it feel like a home from home. The beds were made up in local embroidered linens, the bathroom was modern and clean, with plenty of thick white towels for us to use. There were beach towels and beach umbrellas, a cool box and beach chairs, everything you would need to make your stay more comfortable. When we arrived we were greeted by Tim and Angela and a chilled bottle of prosseco, fruit juice for curly boy. They had left fresh bread in the room, milk and another bottle of prosseco in the fridge, fruit, jam, tea and coffee. I hope we get the chance to visit again.
crisp white sheets
the street where we stayed
huge olive trees