Bank Holiday Bliss: 2013 365 Challenge #148

Daughter and friends

Daughter and friends

Today is Bank Holiday Monday in the UK. Generally I dislike Bank Holidays because we pay £84 for our kids NOT to go to nursery and – now hubbie is contracting – neither of us get paid unless we’re working.

Today, though, today was different. I had planned to take the kids to the Farm while hubbie had some quiet time as he’s still recovering from driving us all home from Scotland. However friends invited us to a BBQ in the local park with other families from the children’s nursery.

The sun shone, there was a cool breeze and, when we arrived, one of my daughter’s nursery friends ran over and gave her a huge hug. I feel blessed that my children have good friends who are happy to see them. There were even a couple of staff from the nursery there, so we managed to get a bit of free childcare after all!

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The boys enjoying sunshine and pringles

When we were in Scotland, I soaked in the mountains, the lochs, the mature trees and parkland, and I wished I could be with them always. I often think of us relocating somewhere with a bit more geography. The Fens are pretty flat and, even though we’re on the edge so at least have a few trees, it’s a tough place to love.

I grew up by the sea and the rolling south downs, then spent years in Leeds and Manchester, with the Pennines in between. I was near The Lakes and close to Scotland. Now I feel we have traded scenery for family and friends. Days like today, and yesterday when we visited my parents and splashed around in their pool, I remember why we stay. Here we are home. Here we belong.

It doesn’t stop me dreaming that one day I’ll write a bestseller (I know, it’s a far-fetched dream), or the premium bonds will come good, and we’ll be able to buy a holiday home somewhere with geography. A nice little cottage in Cornwall, where I can take the kids for the long vacation and let them know what it means to be near the hills and the sea. To watch the kids paddling in a lake and throwing pebbles. Until then, it’s good to spend time with friends.

(Unfortunately it does mean I’ve been too tired to give Claire proper attention today. I’ve been staring at my computer for hours this evening trying to decide what to write for today’s post. Don’t expect Tolstoy!)

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:

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“Bloody Hell!”

Claire looked at the building stretching away from her through the drizzle. From the description of The Pavilion Gardens she’d figured it was just a greenhouse full of plants and a coffee shop perched on the edge of a park. She’d only come to visit the Tourist Information Centre, hoping to find exciting things to do in the area before Julia got there first.

Those Victorians knew a thing or two about architecture. I can’t believe all this is free. I didn’t think anything was free any more. Claire stood gazing at the sight, until she felt the rain dripping down the gap between her collar and her neck. With a shiver she snapped a picture of the Pavilion for the blog and scurried inside.

It took a few moments for her to get her bearings. This place feels like a maze. I don’t think I’ve got it in me to explore today, thanks to the bag ladies waking me at dawn. Claire read the sign: Art Gallery, Opera House, Restaurant, Conservatory, Tourist information office.  Come on, there has to be a café. Caffeine, that’s what’s needed. A sudden stab of guilt made her pause. Why is it my first stop is always the café? There must be more to life than latte? Even the thought left her feeling panicked and shaky.

She scanned the sign again and saw the welcome words ‘coffee shop’.  Deciding that the need to warm up after the bitter walk from the car was sufficient excuse, Claire set off in pursuit.

*

Warm and awake from her drink, Claire wandered through the Victorian conservatory, welcoming the humid atmosphere which snuggled round her like a duvet. Banana trees bobbed alongside vibrant blooms. Up ahead she could see a pond with what looked like metal dinosaurs dotted about. Sky would love this.

“Look Mummy, there’s Boris!”

Claire searched around her, half expecting to see the London Mayor lurking amidst the foliage. Instead she saw a small child with pigtails jumping up and down while pointing into the pond.

Claire chuckled. For some reason imagining Boris as a fish appealed to her sense of humour. She stood watching the girl’s excitement with a smile on her face, until she felt the mother’s stare. She must think I’m a nutter or a stalker. With a flush Claire turned away, eager to find the Tourist Information Centre and get on with her day.

***

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