Today I wanted to be in North Devon surfing with Claire and Conor, instead of walking in the rain all bunged up and shivery with a virus. It’s hard to even remember the heat of the summer, when I would have given, if not my right arm, then a chunk of a finger to be cold. Not that it’s cold out here in the rain, at a balmy 14C. But it is miserable.
It’s quite hard remembering to keep Claire in a hot summer. It was much easier writing back when we were still in the same season. If I had been organised I would have noted down the weather every day!
Sometimes I read tripadvisor reviews that are in the right week which helps, but often it’s one more layer of research I don’t quite find time for. Today I’ll be lucky if I get even a basic installment written. Any energy I had was used on vacuum cleaning upstairs and putting the shopping away.
I’m currently walking the dog in the slippery mud like a frail old lady. It reminds me of when I used to do this walk whilst eight months pregnant. It was more of a waddle, as I gasped for breath with a seven pound baby pressing against my lungs! If only the reason for my invalidity was so lovely. This time it’s just an end-of-term we’re-all-exhausted cough and cold.
So today I decided to strike something off my Christmas to-do list while watching Homes Under the Hammer, instead of writing as I should have been doing (especially with only two more child-free days until New Year and another fifteen posts of Claire to write! Eeek).
I’ve missed daytime TV, particularly Homes Under the Hammer. I love the characters. I can’t write with the TV on, like I used to be able to paint, so it’s been absent for a long time. But today I decided to start a proper being ill activity, if only for an hour.
A while ago, I bought some felt bags to replace the Santa sacks the mice ate last year. When I got them home, they were a bit dull so I thought I’d personalise them. Silly girl! These crafty projects always look better in my head than in reality. I’m not much good at sewing and I haven’t done blanket stitch since school. I only got one bag done before I had to walk the dog and go collect the children, but better than nothing. It’s the crafty bits of Christmas that take the time, but they’re also the bits that are worth the effort.
I did at least post some Christmas cards this morning, so that counts for something, right? Am I the only one who takes on silly projects when they should be working (or resting in bed to shift the cold?)
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:
Kim glowed. Claire watched her from the other side of the room, as she flitted restlessly from bed to chair to bathroom, checking for belongings that would need to be invisible to have been missed on the previous three checks. Her skin seemed translucent in the afternoon sun spilling in between the curtains, and all the bitter lines had been erased by one simple conversation.
Good to his word, Jeff had called while Claire was still in her room pretending to work. When she’d returned to the lounge half an hour later, it was to find Kim alive with effervescent hope, chatting away to Conor about Jeff’s second job and the purpose of it. Claire had been greeted with joy, although not for the right reasons, and Kim had stumbled over her words in her haste to tell her friend the news. She was going home.
Jeff hadn’t only told her of the cause of his remoteness, he had pleaded with her to return to their apartment, so they could heal together. Kim would happily have jumped in the car there and then and driven straight to Cambridge without dropping Helena back first. It had taken the combined efforts of Claire, Conor and a quiet Helena to point out the late hour and the long journey.
“Time enough to drive Helena back to your Mum’s in the morning, then cut across country,” Claire had argued. Kim had reluctantly agreed and Claire wondered if she slept at all during the long night.
It was morning now, still early for a Sunday. Helena had gone for one last walk along the beach with Conor as gallant escort, allowing the friends to chat while Kim packed.
“I’m sorry I didn’t stay long,” Kim said, coming to sit by Claire on Helena’s bed. “At least you’ll have a few hours with Conor all to yourself.” She smiled; an unaffected genuine expression of joy that resonated in Claire’s heart.
“He’s a good man,” Kim continued, snuggling in next to Claire and resting her head on her shoulder. “He deserves you and you deserve a good man. I really hope it works out for you both. I want everyone to be as happily married as me and Jeff.”
Claire laughed. “Don’t marry me off yet: I’ve only been seeing him for a week. I’m not sure I’ll ever get married.”
“Of course you will!”
“I don’t know.” Claire felt heavy, but didn’t want to drag Kim down from her euphoric bubble. “Why would I choose to wash a man’s dirty socks and make sure he ate properly, when I could be footloose and fancy free, surfing the waves and writing about it?”
Kim pulled away from Claire and looked her in the eye. “Some men can do their own laundry, you know. Besides, it’s a small price to pay to share your life with someone. To know that even when you’re old and wrinkly, there’ll still be a person around who cares.”
Her expression became serious, and her brows pulled in together as she scrutinised Claire’s face. “Don’t fight it. If you’re falling for Conor, let it happen. I don’t know what took place between you and Michael, although I can guess. But they’re chalk and cheese. Michael wanted to control you: Conor just wants to love you. Why not let him?”
Claire shivered. It was far too soon to be talking of love and happily ever after. She was only just beginning to see the glimmer of a life of her own; she wasn’t sure if there was room in her dream for two.
She stood next to Conor as they waved off the sisters in Kim’s little car. Helena had said a subdued farewell; sinking into herself in proportion to Kim’s enthusiasm. Claire felt a pang for the woman, the spare wheel amidst two happy couples. Life was always hard for someone.
“So, what shall we do now?” Conor turned and slid his arms around Claire’s waist. “Indoors or outdoors?” He grinned, and Claire felt warm at the suggestion. It was a beautiful day, though, and she felt the need to walk along the cliff and let the wind blow through her mind.
As if sensing her hesitation, Conor said quietly, “Or I could go, if you want to be by yourself?”
The sincerity of the offer touched her, and she reached up to brush her lips across his. “No, don’t go. I just fancy a walk is all, and I know it’s not really your thing.”
“Then you’ll have to teach me. I didn’t do too bad on the surfing, now, did I?”
Claire laughed and fairness made her admit that it was true. He’d taken to the board like a duck to swimming.
“Okay, then, you’re on. Let’s go a bit further up the coast. There’s meant to be a beautiful walk, and I’m sure we can find a decent pub lunch along the way to send you back to Swanage in style.”
Conor looked for a moment as if he would happily forgo the lunch to find a reason to stay, but he remained silent. Thankful for his understanding, Claire led him by the hand back into the hostel.
- Crafty Christmas (anglosaxonceltcreates.wordpress.com)
- Christmas Crafts – 3 Edible Ornaments For Kids To Make (roomtogrow.co.uk)
- Christmas Crafts (brazilnieminens.wordpress.com)
- Festive share (samscraftythings.wordpress.com)