It started with a double rainbow over Deal, a pretty coastal town close to Dover where we spent the first part of our holiday with three other families, before moving onto Suffolk to stay with friends, higher up on the east coast.
Living life close to the edge with a bird’s eye view.
First morning dip at Suffolk – the sea measured ten degrees: Three of us are taking part in a personal weekly cold water swimming challenge as an acknowledgement of the pressures our Year 6 children are facing with the coming exam season: We may not totally understand what they are going through, but we are there in spirit.
In preparation for Halloween..a real haunted house!
Brilliant, subversive arcade games on the pier!
Then the waves got up! And we went swimming again!
There’s something magical about walking along a beach in autumn when the clouds are skudding, the wind is cold and the sun is bright.
The view behind us.
I wish I was a surfer dude..
Getting the little ferry across to Southwold side.
Our holiday ended with a rainbow over Southwold, proof that you can find gold at the end of a rainbow: I dare someone to sit next to me and tell me it isn’t true.
Laters, Kate x
So this post was originally written two years ago, to celebrate Bella’s eighth birthday. On the day of her tenth birthday, I don’t think I can improve on the sentiment contained, except to say the words grow more concentrated with each passing day x
We’ve been in the garden county of Kent for the first week of half-term (it’s a two week break for us) – and I thought I was prepared for the black hole of social media that this part of the UK has historically proved to be by taking a dongle with us, but even that was no match for the rich eiderdown of life that seems to squash the very lifeblood of the internet to nothing in these parts. On the plus side, life without the internet is a lot simpler..more old fashioned..and in the end, there was really nothing for it but to embrace the holiday spirit and go with the flow..it’s been a great break!
We also celebrated Bella’s eighth birthday..it’s hard to believe, it seems only yesterday I was holding that tiny baby, watching the face of Big Ben tick round that first night we spent together in St Thomas’ hospital. I look at her now and have the most enormous chest restricting rush – she is my open-heart production – vibrant, living, learning..I never used to worry so much about life, now there’s more grey..I’ve become an observer, teacher and pupil too. it’s weird – you think your helpless child will be totally reliant on you and you have your experience and the need to guide and help, but it’s just not true. Instead it’s a constant balancing act that I don’t think anyone can get totally right: You want to lead, but you don’t want to helicopter. You want to love and cuddle, but you don’t want to smother. There’s an undeniable pleasure in growing together in habits, tastes and socks…but the easiest thing as a parent is to see your child as a mini-you where you now have the ability to correct all the imperfections..or to see the person they are now as the character they will always be and deny them the space to grow..thoughts like that just end up passing the negativity down the food-chain, or so it seems to me..but then who am I to say?
I know I don’t want her to be the child that has everything – but even deciding that is choosing a course of action, adding an intrinsic quality, another detail. I don’t believe that love is materialistic, instead I believe adversity supports initiative – one of the greatest gifts a parent can bestow. To that I add manners, self-respect and confidence – far more important in real life than examination certificates. I want her to have the space to find out who she is away from any expectations of mine and to be able to express that in any situation. I want her to have the confidence to stand up and say her opinion whether it’s right or wrong. I want her to make mistakes, whether it’s in her maths homework or something bigger, to learn there are always solutions if you look hard enough and mistakes are part of the stepping stones of life and shouldn’t be avoided…sometimes they lead you forward.
Life is as delicate as a falling feather but should always be a glorious caper..I hope she has a wonderfully misspent youth with sunshine smiles and audacious bursts of laughter, she is my joy, my love, my heart…and I hope that when the time comes, I have the sense to set my treasure free..
Does mother know best? You dream about it..but ultimately kids appear from nowhere and have wills of their own and you’re just ordinary people trying to get through life the very best way you can, showing them life and hopefully a way of looking at things that opens the door to where the magic lies….
Laters, Kate x
There’s a touch of magic to a windswept English beach caught in the throes of autumn.
The lack of sunshine made no difference to the kids.
Big or small.
These were taken on Camber Sands on Bella’s ninth birthday.
How time flies.
We were lucky to spend the week with another lovely family which meant rounders was a serious option.
Not that the weather was all bad.
Visiting the glorious Walmer Castle..
With it’s doorbell of lust.
And views across the sea.
It has my personal favourite combination of grand but homely.
(I’ve charged my two with the task of becoming the Warden of the Cinq ports so I can live here in my dotage. I think it’s a small thing for a mother to ask for..)
We cycled, ate, drank, swam and geocached our days away. (If you’ve not experienced geocaching it’s an app that using GPS, shows where little pots of treasures are hidden. Addictive.)
There’s the hunt, the journey..
And the success..this was a plastic fish swapped for some acorn shells. Hmmmmmmm.
What none of us had ever seen before was the amount of mushrooms growing on the beach..
All different types, like something out of a Tintin book..
Shame our only knowledge of mushrooms was those with plastic cling wrap..but then we are urbanites, very happy to enjoy the delights of the countryside and re-charge the batteries with good friends, before heading back to the big smoke, building works..and the run down to Christmas. Help.
Laters, Kate x
Sunshine in the UK never lasts long – it’s the human reality inside any fantastical tale as was proven in the last part of our sojourn to Kent – the day after our seaside adventure the temperature dropped like a stone (a bit like today) from the low twenties..to low. It was still emotionally sun-kissed with blue in the sky and fluffy clouds but the wind was as raw as a saw blade and straight off the frozen Norwegian fjords.
We were at Sandwich (we’d cycled here with the kids previously in the week – I’m not sure they’ve forgiven us yet as we got lost and ended up cycling at least 18 miles…) which is an historic town full of old, quaint buildings and was once the major port in the area and a centre for weaving.
We were there to take a boat ride with the Harbour Master along the 2 miles of river to the coast to see seals..
The trip out is strange – you pass all sorts of industrial sites mixed with wild flowers and Oyster Catchers.
And it was absolutely freezing! Seriously cold enough to whip the balls off any brass monkeys stupid enough to be out. We raided our bags and pockets for anything that could keep us warm..a tissue anyone??
Charlie on look-out..
Coming to say hello..
And then it was time to head for home, hot drinks and a spell under a duvet to warm up (that was me)…the kids wanted to go swimming! it takes all sorts…
Laters, Kate x
The biggest downer about the UK is the weather – it’s why we’re so obsessed with it. Head out for a holiday by the sea and rather than a cheery parasol, it’s highly likely you’ll be hiding under a large umbrella. So seeing the sun on our first day, we clapped our hands with merry glee!
And sank a large glass of cold white to celebrate the whole damn great joy of it..
Whilst watching the kids chase seagulls on the beach..
We weren’t far from Dover; So often a passing point, so rarely for stopping. But overlooking the harbour is Dover castle, an imposing building with a cornucopia of history dating back to the Romans.
But we were there to see the underground tunnels…
Originally dug out as a prison in the Napoleonic wars, they were resurrected in WW2 to provide a secret headquarters and a hospital.
This is where all the planning took place for Operation Dynamo and the evacuation of Dunkirk.
Over 30 metres down there’s something like 3.8 km of tunnels, including deep, deep down, a nuclear bunker called Dumpy.
During the War Dover was hit by over 2000 bombs, making it one of the worst hit towns in the UK. But none fell within the castle walls – apparently Hitler rather fancied the castle for himself and banned it from being bombed…if only he knew…
It’s a brilliant exhibition – real thought and atmosphere has gone into the presentation with clever projections onto the walls and newsreel footage. On the hospital tour, you follow the story of a wounded spitfire pilot accompanied by the sounds of a bombing raid and flickering lights. Not for the claustrophobic!
A spot of light relief was then needed..
Even a star fish still has fascination..
Until Daddy chases you with it..
My kids are such urbanites..
We looked for sea diamonds..
And pushed Daddy in..
Before heading back home to be ready for another day..
Laters, Kate x