Nights Out and Coronations

It’s early on Sunday evening, and I just sat down in the junk room with a glass of wine. Somehow several days have passed since the last post – not sure how. I used to write regularly – like clockwork – almost every day. Not so much any more, it seems.

I have an empty wine glass next to me.

Somewhere in the house, our youngest daughter is sleeping off a night out – one of her friends turned 18. We’re hearing all the predictable stories one might about a village hall party turning into a house party, and several very delicate teenagers feeling a bit sorry for themselves in the morning. I’m just glad they all had fun, were safe, and hopefully learned one of life’s many lessons about enjoying their-selves a little too much. We’ve all done it.

Our eldest went through the same learning curve – one minute being the life and soul of the party, before waking up in the garden with her Dad sitting next to her in the early hours. I’ll never forget the walk home. It was new years – we passed endless people who stopped to share their own stories as I half held her up, and laughed with them. She hasn’t done it again (yet).

I think my favourite part about waking up the morning after a party, or a night out, is piecing together the memories – the laughter – the conversations – the moments that stay with us. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to cherish the friends I have made – and the relationships we have. I saw a coaster in a gift shop some time ago that made me smile – emblazoned with the words “we’ll always be friends – because you know too much”.

So true.

This weekend has of course been dominated by “The Coronation” of King Charles. I’m not a royalist – I don’t really have any opinions either way about us being a monarchy or a republic – but I do love the experiences that history has woven into us. When “Zadok the priest” started playing at the moment of Charles anointing as King, it all got a bit emotional – which is stupid really.


I must be the softest, most easily swayed person I know. Perhaps it’s just empathy. Knowing that a moment means so much to others.

The craziest thing? I’m not religious at all. I’ve become increasingly athiest throughout my life. Of course I respect other people’s decision to believe or follow whatever they want – but personally – I think it’s all a bit crazy.

The whole part about shielding Charles from public view during the anointing? That’s the “magic”. It’s the same as not seeing the shark in Jaws. If you could see it was just a man in a pointy hat splashing water on another man stood in pyjamas, the magic doesn’t work. To reinforce it, the Church enlists a choir and orchestra to play “Zadok the Priest” – music we have heard for most of our lives in repeated viewings of Elizabeth II’s coronation.


It was a good day. I watched some of the coverage later in the evening – Michael Morpugo, the author, was interviewed. He made an observation about those present – that a change had happened over the intervening 70 years since the last coronation. Back then, the assembled congregation in Westminster Abbey was assembled of “The Great” (lords, ladies, leaders, and so on). This time, the abbey was filled with the good – which made them great. People who had made a difference to the world – people who others look up to.

It’s Tolkien all over again, isn’t it – “I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folks that keep the darkness at bay”.

Throughout the day, Penny Mordaunt trended on news networks all over the world. She was the stoic, strong, elegant woman that held the jewelled sword ahead of Charles as he walked through the abbey. She’s probably the best leader we will never have – because the corrupt world of politics put the knife into her at perhaps the only chance we ever had of her becoming leader.

A sliding doors moment perhaps. If she had become our leader, she would not have been taking part in a moment that will be remembered and re-watched for generations.


Rainy Days and Aquariums

The weather has taken a turn for the worst over the last few days – so we’ve been rattling around my parents house. This afternoon we’re escaping for a few hours to visit the national aquarium in Plymouth. Our younger children visited when they were young – we doubt they will remember much about it. My main memory is of the main tank and coral reef, where sharks and turtles swim above a glass tunnel.

(several hours pass while we corral the children, and set off towards Plymouth in search of said aquarium)

After an hour journey to Plymouth, two laps of a multi-storey car park, and our middle daughter managing to fall down some steps (we re-framed the story as her picking a fight with a car park to make her laugh), we arrived at the National Aquarium, and saw a complete reversal of character in our children. While our middle daughter went into a huge downer about the stairway incident, our eldest – she of multiple anxiety adventures – was living her best life while looking at fish, crabs, sharks, octopi, and whatever else.

It was a very, very good afternoon.

I had hoped to perhaps buy a book about oceanic research, or marine ecology in the shop at the aquarium, but my hopes were dashed. If you were looking for your name on a fake gold necklace, a novelty mug, or a cuddly toy of a shark, you were in luck.

Before heading back we wandered along the waterfront at Plymouth and explored the fortified defences, and the various “historic” locations at the Barbican. In the heart of the harbour there is a set of steps with numerous inscriptions in the pavement detailing the departure of the pilgrim fathers in the 1600s bound for the Americas. As with any “historic” location in England, as soon as you start reading, the story tends to fall to pieces. Nobody is really sure where the original steps were, let alone the layout of the harbour in the early 1600s.

The story reminds me of William Shakespeare’s house in Stratford – which has absolutely no connection with him. Nobody knows where he lived, what the house looked like, or even really if he lived in Stratford. The house they built is in a faked style “of the era” on a plot of land that was available. Tourists like a nice story.

Anyway. We’re heading towards our last day in Cornwall before heading home on Wednesday. The kids have just set out along the lane near my parents house with bowls in hand – in search of blackberries in the nearby bushes. I imagine blackberry and apple crumble might be on the menu tomorrow night.


Walking the Coast Path

After a slow start yesterday morning we set off to walk the coast path towards a nearby fishing village together – with the promise of lunch in a pub dangling like a carrot ahead of us.

Along the way we were treated to several pairs of Peregrine Falcons sweeping along the cliff edges at speed – screeching and stooping over the rugged rocks and scrub below.

Throughout the day I was surprised by the resilience of our younger children, and the emergence of our eldest. She suffers from anxiety and had a massive wobble the day before we came away. She had a very, very good day.

Even when rain began to fall during lunch, the children’s spirits weren’t dampened.

After retracing our steps on weary legs late in the afternoon we eventually arrived home, skipped dinner, and collapsed into sofas and beds around the house.

I think today may be a quiet day. Of course if past history is anything to go by, we’ll find ourselves setting out on an adventure by mid-afternoon.


The Journey to the Coast

I started writing this post yesterday, while packing bags ready to travel – and then realised I had nothing to write about that hadn’t happened the day before. That has happened a lot since I started working from home. Today was more interesting – I promise.

After scraping myself out of bed at about 8am, jumping in the shower, and downing a coffee, I ran around the house like a headless chicken – picking up the last few bits and pieces strewn around the house so the lady looking after our cats might not think TOO badly of us in our absence.

By ten in the morning the bags were in the roof box on top of the car, we had asked the kids repeatedly if they had packed wash kit, phone chargers, and whatever else, and we set off. It turns out we should have asked our youngest if she had packed both of her shoes, but we didn’t find that one out until six hours and two hundred and fifty miles later.

The journey to the coast was almost pleasant – or at least as pleasant as spending several hours confined to a car with your family can be. After running out of half-decent radio stations we played eye–spy, stopped for something to eat, and then finally knuckled down to the last two hours into the back of beyond.

My parents live quite some way from anywhere. Which is lovely. And a bit of a nightmare sometimes.

After arriving, making a very English cup of tea, and unpacking most of our bags, we walked off in search of the ocean. The path to the sea falls downhill for about a mile from my parents home – past farms, remote holiday cottages, and endless fields filled with sheep and bordered by bramble bushes.

After perhaps half an hour walking and after drinking a cider from the beach cafe, we stood ankle deep in the ocean for the first time in quite some time. We appeared to have timed it just about right – missing the hordes that would have inhabited the beach earlier in the day.

A little later we began the climb back up the hill, and I accompanied my Dad to the local fish and chip shop – which would normally be fine – except my other half is vegetarian, and two of the kids are gluten free – which immediately removed 95% of the menu for them. I ended up ordering a random assortment of cheesy chips, beans, mushy peas, and a veggie burger. The burger turned out to be a fishcake.

After dinner, the children retreated to their rooms, and fell fast asleep – it’s funny how the sea air does that. I suppose tomorrow might be a somewhat slow start – after which we’ll buy groceries, and start making plans to fill the days ahead.

Fingers crossed the weather is kind to us.