The UK holiday is finished. For another year.
So is the litre bottle of gin.
In the end, the sun shone. All week. This is unprecedented. I should know. I’ve been coming to Bournemouth since I was twelve. Every year. I know the sweet smell of the timeshare lifts, which still have the same carpeted walls. Retro. I could sleepwalk the wiggly, woggly way to the beach.
We would spend a fortnight here when I was little. Usually in bad weather. My optimistic dad would spend 14 days convincing me, my sister and my sun-worshipping mum that there was indeed enough blue sky to make a sailor a pair of trousers. His way of saying it would brighten up. I had faith in his analogy although it rarely fulfilled its promise.
Now I come to Bournemouth with Daddy Pig, Beaver and Godivy. We stay in exactly the same apartment I stayed in when I was twelve. And I wonder how on earth I have a husband and two daughters. The 25 years in between seem to have vanished. I don’t know where they’ve gone.
Every time we make the annual approach to East Cliff in the car, it feels as though one week has passed. Not one year.
It is a lot like going home. Nothing has changed. Time stands still. Except that, rather cruelly, it doesn’t.
I watch Beaver building her own sandcastles and memories, unaware of all the foundations I’ve already laid here. I marvel at Godivy who suddenly hates sand so much she adopts a hilarious mid-air ‘brace’ position every time we try to put her down. It makes for a restful holiday, if nothing else. But she didn’t do that last year. What will be different next year?
But most of all, when I’m here, I am just here. In the moment. When usually I am in the next one before I’ve finished the last. It is the novelty of holiday with the familiarity of home all packed into one. And I’m so grateful for this holiday tradition.
This holiday, I’ve wanted to stay in the moment more than ever. With Beaver starting school tomorrow, our foundations are a little shaky. We have a transition ahead. And I also know that the cycle of the school year will soon act like the cycle of our holiday tradition. It will feel like one week has passed, not one year. Do any of us need another reminder?
I dream of marooning ourselves in our home from home. Our room with a view. Whose only soundtrack is the sound of the sea.
Where I am sometimes just a twelve year old.
And asking my dad if there is enough blue sky to make a sailor a pair of trousers.