Smiley, Sunny Days: 2013 365 Challenge #324

Scooting through the park to school

Scooting through the park to school

I’ve spent today trying to work out why the sun makes us feel so much happier. The skies have been blue today, without a cloud in view. It makes the autumn leaves sparkle and dance in waves of red and gold.

But it’s freezing, around 3C, and the ground is frozen. Of course my boy still wore shorts to scoot on the school run, although I did manage to persuade him into jeans for the farm. Despite shivering from cold and the pain of red raw hands, (gloves have not yet been located as I’m in denial that it’s actually winter) I feel a hundred times better than I did yesterday in the mizzle and fog.

I want to get outside, I want to run and jump, and not just to keep warm. I’m smiling just because it’s sunny. I wonder why that is? I’m sat in a freezing barn with a ray of sunlight warming my arm, and life is good. We’ve been outside nearly all day today, at the farm and the park, feeding the ducks and scootering (with son back in shorts after his gymnastics class!) It’s been a great day.

Blue skies at the farm

Blue skies at the farm

I guess this is why people buy SAD lamps to see them through the winter, to replace the lost sunshine. I’ve thought about it. I miss the daylight, as it gets dark at 4pm and the sky is only starting to lighten when we leave for school.

Maybe on the sunny days we feel the long distant promise of spring; of warmer days and growing plants, of living and thriving, of life. Even now, in our twenty-first century world, with electric lights and central heating, TV and books and snuggly lightweight fleece jumpers, we’re still animals at heart. We want to hibernate in the winter and celebrate in spring.

Bring on the sunny days, bring on the frost and the snow, the nipped fingers and running nose. Enough of autumn’s mists, I want blue skies to make me smile. And then I want it to be spring, please.

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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:


Claire sat on her bunk and watched the boys as they lay, absorbed in their games. She could see Candy Crush on Alex’s screen, and wondered if she should’ve asked Robert what restrictions he placed on the boys’ screen time. She couldn’t help but feel that more educational apps would be a better way to spend their time, but didn’t feel as comfortable telling them so as she had with Sky.

Plus it’s the school holidays: they must have homework that needs doing. Do I trust that Francesca will supervise that, or should I do something?

Her anger at the now departed Robert flared up again, and only the indifference both boys showed at their father’s departure made her feel that she was doing the right thing. However little she knew about looking after boys, it didn’t seem as if they’d get much more care and attention from their dad.

I shouldn’t judge, of course. I know nothing about their family life. And, after all, it must be strange going home after boarding during term time.

She looked up again from her book, unable to concentrate on the words.

The question is, now they are here, what am I going to do with them?

A low grumbling noise echoed round the room and Claire giggled. “Alex, was that your stomach?” The boy grunted and didn’t look up. Claire sighed, quietly. “What about you, Jack, are you hungry? Did you boys have lunch?”

She looked at her phone and was surprised to see how late it was. “Never mind lunch, it’s nearly dinner time. What do you boys fancy? I can cook pasta or we can go out and find a restaurant.” At least Robert had made sure she didn’t need to scrimp too much.

Jack sat up and bumped his head on the bunk. “Ow. Alex, why did I get the bottom bunk?”

“Because you’re the baby,” his brother snarled. Jack’s face crumpled and Claire feared he might cry. He knuckled at his eyes, and when he met Claire’s gaze his eyes were red but dry.

“I’m hungry, Auntie Claire. Can we have a McDonalds? Do they have them out here? Father said we’re a long way from civilisation.”

“Are you allowed McDonalds? Your dad didn’t say, but I can’t imagine he and your mum would approve. It’s not very healthy.”

“They don’t give a shit about us,” Alex said.

The words struck at Claire’s heart, but she responded sternly, “I don’t think that language is appropriate, Alex. You’re an educated boy; you can express yourself without resorting to swearing.”

“Why should I? Father swears all the time. And Mother. Especially at each other.” He turned back to his game, and Claire felt an urge to give this troubled almost-man a hug.

Knowing that was the last thing he would want, she tried to keep her voice neutral and said, “Well, when you’re with me I would like you to refrain from swearing. In fact I think we’ll have a few rules.” Alex took no notice of her; his attention on his game.

“For a start, I won’t have you ignoring me. Right, come down here please, Alex. You, too, Jack. Come sit here with me.” She patted the bed. Jack came across the room but Alex didn’t move.

“Alex Carleton, get down here now, or you’ll be on the next flight home.” The strength in her voice surprised Claire. The reaction was even more shocking. Alex glared at her, then rolled sideways off the bed and jumped to the floor without using the ladder. He didn’t sit, but she chose not to force the issue.

“Okay. Rule one, you will listen to me and do as I ask. I am in charge, got it?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “Rule two, no swearing. Rule three, iPad will be limited to a few hours a day.” Alex began to protest and she cut him off. “I’m not unreasonable – I had an iPad until recently. But I also know how addictive some of the games are. We’re in the most beautiful part of the world, with castles and caves and beaches and places to visit. Games are for quiet time and, occasionally, car journeys. Got it?”

Jack said, “yes, Ma’am,” but Alex remained silent.

“Got it?” Claire said again, looking into Alex’s downcast eyes.

“Yes, Ma’am.

“Good. Oh, I forgot. Rule four–” Jack groaned and Claire laughed. “Don’t worry, this is a good one. Rule four, let’s have some fun!”

She jumped up from the bed. “Okay, shall we see if this sleepy backwater has a McDonalds?”

With a crazy grin she led them from the room without waiting to see if they were following her.


5 thoughts on “Smiley, Sunny Days: 2013 365 Challenge #324

  1. Sunday was so gloomy for us here in Atlanta. It rained lightly and was almost dark all day long. I wondered Sunday what the weather is like for you in England in the winter. Yes, blue skies, no matter what the temperature, make us feel better. I know someone who bought one of those lamps. She still is depressed in the winter.

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