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Father’s Day

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Today, Sunday 06 September, is apparently Father’s Day in Australia. The timing is ironic as, just a few hours ago, my sister (who lives in Australia) and I were talking about what a poor choice of Father we made! Our joviality was only skin deep: it hid from view the multi-faceted pain each of us feels.

Our father lived in Australia for some years, unbeknown to either of us, hence my reference to Father’s Day in Oz.

I wonder what people say to their dead fathers? Do they say sorry to their fathers? Do they rant and rave at them? Do they stop loving them? If so, how soon do they stop loving them? What makes them stop loving them?

As a mother, I cannot imagine a time when I could stop loving my sons. Shouldn’t the same be true of fathers? Shouldn’t they always love their children and shouldn’t their children always love them?

There is much I would like to say to the person who neglected to be a father to my sister and me. Especially now. Especially now.

Wordless Wednesday

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More Holidays!

Reputedly the most expensive building in the world!

Reputedly the most expensive building in the world!

Following on from my last post, I am continuing with the Be Creatively prompts relating to holidays. Today I am concentrating on these two prompts:


3 Sometimes a holiday is so perfect you never want it to end. Of course, this might be only in the imagination…… Write about a place or country to which you have always intended to return but not yet done so…. or to which you return regularly because it’s just so good.

4 It’s time to book your dream holiday. Money is no object. Where would you go? What would you do? (Transport is no problem – you can magically pass from Lapland to Antarctica with no effort – and all points between and beyond!)

I have chosen to deal with these two prompts together because the destination is the same.

My partner, Peter, is well travelled. When he was at university, he and his friend Steve would travel to mainland Europe during the summer vacation and spend their time climbing various mountains in the Alps. Later, when he was working, he would travel to far flung places in the course of his work. Consequently, by the time I met him, he had visited very many countries around the world, whereas I had travelled very little. There was one place he had not been to, although it was on his bucket list, and he hoped to be able to travel there during the year he became 50. For various reasons that was not possible but we travelled there two years later, when I was 50.

Excitement beneath the surface!

Excitement beneath the surface!

When Peter first told me where he wanted to go, I had no strong feelings one way or the other. It wasn’t a place I had ever considered visiting: I hardly even thought about the place, in fact. However, as I was keen to make up for lost travelling time, I agreed to go. We spent a lot of time researching and planning for the trip. There was much to consider even though our visit could only be for a few days.

As our date of departure drew near, we began to get excited but then, oh no! FOG. The whole of the UK seemed to be covered by an enormous blanket of fog leading to several airports being closed, including Manchester and Heathrow – both of which we would be using on this trip of a lifetime. We were anxiously watching weather forecasts and checking to see whether or not the airports were open. I made contingency plans in case we couldn’t fly out of Manchester so we were as prepared as we could be if problems arose.

We were due to set off on Boxing Day. My younger son drove us to Manchester Airport which was, thankfully, open. By this time, my excitement was in full flow. We went to check in for our flight to Heathrow and chatted with the check-in clerk. She asked us if we would like to fly on the earlier shuttle. She said it was looking as though the weather was closing in, which could lead to Manchester Airport being closed again. Of course, we opted for that earlier flight. We were on our way!

The holiday didn’t disappoint, as could so easily have been the case after such a build up. Peter enjoyed the trip but I absolutely fell in love with the place. For the eight years following that holiday I begged, pleaded, cajoled and generally used any means I could to convince him that we should go again. He is not keen on returning to a place he has visited before, but I was desperate to go again.

Finally, last Autumn, Peter agreed to go there again! Even though we had researched before our first trip, we still decided to look at our options before deciding with whom we should book. It is actually a really important part of that particular trip, knowing which criteria are most important to you.

Flying over the Pampas

Flying over the Pampas

The timing of this second visit was a few weeks earlier in the season than our first as it would give an added dimension to the experience. We knew that all sorts of things would be different. Oh my goodness, we really were going there again!

Arriving 'home'

Arriving ‘home’

We exited the airport at the end of our third and final flight and I immediately felt that I had arrived ‘home’. The excitement had evolved and become a beautiful feeling: a mixture of calm, completeness and serenity. That feeling continued throughout the holiday. For me, it was enough just to be there. It was where I was meant to be.

You know how, sometimes, things are never as good second time around? Well, that was definitely not the case. The entire experience was amazing, all over again. We visited and landed in different places from our first trip, apart from calling at the post office, and everywhere was just as wonderful, if not more so. Our fellow travellers enhanced the trip, making it a far more intimate experience than previously. In fact, we all got along so well that Peter and I had a travelling companion for our journey home. Ladies and gentlemen, please say “hello” to…

Henry!

Henry!

Oh! Where is this place? My own personal Utopia?

Antarctica, of course! And I would go there every year, if I could!

This Is Holiday Time!

Singapore - May 2015

Singapore – May 2015

August, in the UK, is generally holiday time because schools close for their long summer break. August, or at least this week in August, is holiday time for the Be Creatively group. The suggested prompts for this week are:

1 “We’re all going on a Summer Holiday” is a line from a popular song from the last century

Is there any song or music that specifically brings back memories of a happy holiday?

2 One of my worst holiday memories relates to Cornwall. Not only was the accommodation unwelcoming, rain on Crantock beach caused no end of problems. Do you have memories of a holiday you would prefer to forget?

3 Sometimes a holiday is so perfect you never want it to end. Of course, this might be only in the imagination…… Write about a place or country to which you have always intended to return but not yet done so…. or to which you return regularly because it’s just so good.

4 It’s time to book your dream holiday. Money is no object. Where would you go? What would you do? (Transport is no problem – you can magically pass from Lapland to Antarctica with no effort – and all points between and beyond!)

5 Picnics are a mark of summer, so too are barbecues. What is your favourite summer food? Which foods are your ‘go to’ items for either or both of these eating occasion

6 “Vacations and friends are the two best things in life.” – Haruki Murakami. Had a holiday with a friend? Write about it. If not – write about a holiday you would like to have with a friend.

7 “Not all those who wander are lost.” J R R Tolkein There’s nothing worse than being lost in a foreign land. Ever been lost? Glad you didn’t get lost? No matter where – write about what happened or how you felt.

There is no obligation on members to do all or any of the prompts. We are free to “cherry pick” those we like the look of so, today, I am going to write my response to the second prompt.

The holiday I would like to forget is one that I booked in response to a small ad in a daily newspaper: it was a week self-catering in a flat in Gloucestershire. We had never been to that part of the country and had thought we would give it a try.

The car journey from our home in Kent had taken several hours, meaning that we were fairly tired when we arrived. The flat was an annex that had been built onto the back of the owner’s house. As soon as we arrived my heart sank. I had a bad feeling about the place but, when I gave voice to my reservations, my then husband, P, insisted that everything would be fine. When we entered the flat there was a pervasive smell of damp. We began carrying everything in from the car. Upon entering the kitchen we discovered a manhole cover in the middle of the floor! Moving on, I went to make up the bed. Oh. The blankets gave off a damp odour and, even worse, were stained. By this stage I was desperate to return home. The whole place was disgusting.

For some reason, P refused to leave. As it was late and we were in a fairly remote area, and obviously this was years before mobile phones and the internet, there wasn’t much I could do but remain there as well. However, after a few dank, miserable days, even P had to admit defeat – thank goodness. I have seldom been so pleased to leave a place as I was then.

There are other holidays that I could have chosen to talk about: the time we went to Cumbria, the week on the Isle of Wight or the holiday in Wales where just about everything went wrong. Perhaps I’ll tell you about those some other time.

What Would You Say?

My Beautiful Barney

My Beautiful Barney

The photo above is of my gorgeous cocker spaniel called Barney, who died several years ago. It usually brings a smile to my face whenever I look at it but it’s not really working today. Hardly surprising really as today is a difficult day.

Peter and I went to Australia a few weeks ago so that I could be with my sister. I knew it would be difficult to leave her and I spent much of my time there dreading that leavetaking. In the end, it was nowhere near as bad as I had been imagining.

I spoke to my sister on the phone today and that call affected me deeply. It got me thinking about final conversations that we have with people. It is a rare privilege to be able to be with someone to say your goodbyes. It’s one that my late husband had with almost all of the most important people in his life. Even so, he was unable to put into words many of the things he wanted to say.

So I’ve been thinking about things that my sister and I said and wondering what other people would say. Would it be an opportunity to complain about some grudge that had been held for years? Or a compliment about something wonderful? Maybe you would ask where the key for the electricity meter cupboard was? [I mention that because, shortly after his death, I was berating myself for not having asked my husband that exact thing!]

Whatever your last conversation, I think there’s a pretty good chance that, when it’s too late, you would think of things that you should have said, instead of what you did say. Perhaps we should write down what we want to say, but that may also end up being unsatisfactory as the person reading it couldn’t be certain of how those words were meant.

There just doesn’t seem to be a “right way”, does there?

What would you say?

Alert! Alert!

Alert! Alert!.

Alert! Alert!

Alert! Alert!.

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