Nearly the end of October, yet the week ends on the beach under a rose gold sun watching a group of swimmers take to the brine for their daily dip.
Lots of surprises in one sentence. Firstly, not only am I sitting on the beach with Favourite Daughter and her lovely chap, but Favourite Son is also with us; when I message him earlier that morning to ask about his weekend he tells me he has nothing planned. Liar. When he walks through my front door a few hours later, I realise he must have already been on the train at this point. Miss Marple I am not.
Secondly, the weather is a surprise to me, but not to the swimmers. The swimmers are a hardy breed and take to the sea every day whatever the Meteorological Society threatens them with. I often watch them – in awe – from the warmth behind my living room window. If even that feels too cold, I can view them laughing contagiously on one of the BBC idents. The surprise to me is that the weather today is so balmy that even my reptilian circulatory system finds itself strangely envious of the swimmers. I respond by adjusting my sunglasses.
The swimmers seem oblivious to the unseasonable mass of beach spectators. This is their daily gig after all, and regardless of their age, shape or gender, they blithely strip down to their smalls, pull on their beach caps and attach orange buoyancy aids before diving into the brown water and swimming off around the pier. One silver surfer, noticeable even from a distance by his abundant back hair, announces his swim with a very energetic butterfly stroke which at first seems to drill him downwards into the water rather than propelling him forward.
We bask on the slipway like sunbathing seals, full after lunch and happy not to think about anything but the rose gold sunlight, the sea and the swimmers.
A little girl sprints for the sea, catching her parents off guard, undaunted by the fact that she looks likely to trip over her long blue Elsa dress or at least drag the silk skirt into the water. Frozen she is not. FD and I share the same Disney airwave – clearly lost on our male companions – and sing in chorus, ‘the cold never bothered her anyway’. At the shoreline the little girl hitches up her dress, tucking it into her knickers and revealing she is wearing a pair of wellies below – she is now as close to a Little Mermaid as her wardrobe malfunction will allow and I admire her versatility.
We return to my flat with no plans in place further than a vague intent to heat up the kettle. Surprisingly I find myself totally fine with this. Yes you read me right. Breaking news: The Schedule Queen, Ms Let’s Share a Goal, Madam Reflect Too Much & Unravel, finds herself living in the moment and feeling absolutely calm.
More surprises when I find myself spending the afternoon playing card games – which we know I used to hate – and introducing the crew to my new guilty pleasure, the game of ‘Dobble’*. The simplest games are the best and I firmly believe that if everyone carried around a little tin of these ‘Dobble’ cards and whipped them out at airports, on boring train journeys or in Starbucks then our nation’s mental health would be in much better condition. Our own game becomes increasingly competitive and my only reflection is that I wish I hadn’t boiled the kettle as I find myself spraying coffee all over my competitors when my mouth can contain my laughter no longer. FD croons, ‘Let it Go! Let it Go!’ and I think I have.
I leave Mama J’s crew slumbering in bed this morning and make it to the 8 am Reflection service at church. (Some reflection is still allowed, surely?) Over a post-service cheeky coffee, I ask a fellow 8’O’clocker why I don’t allow myself to spend more days like yesterday and why I still fret so much. He smiles and tells me that the best advice he has ever been given is, ‘don’t saw sawdust’. I’m surprised that I’ve never heard this saying before – and we know by now that I love a good saying. We agree that although I’m learning to let go, I’m allowed one new goal if it promises to put my saw away. A bit of carpentry is still permitted, but only if it crafts new and beautiful items, rather than hacksawing the legs off any achievements, modest though they may be. Goal written and sanded down.
They’re awake when I get back to the flat and simultaneously attacking breakfast and ‘Dobble’ (did I mention the game’s addictive properties?). When she leaves, I feel compelled to send FD off with my own tin of ‘Dobble’ cards, and immediately order myself a new pack. I’ve loved the flat with energy in it. I’ve loved their company and wisdom. I realise it’s fine to look like the Butterfly Man swimmer on occasion (minus the back hair) as long as fun is had in the splashing about – I should have mentioned that Marine Man actually swam an impressive distance, even though on first appearance he was wanting in panache. On reflection (can’t help myself), I think we just saw his warm up act.
This weekend reminds me to keep crafting a home full of family and friends – less spit and sawdust is needed on the floor – more fun and laughter, more rose gold. Thankfully they tell me my new tin of Dobble cards arrive tomorrow.
*Dobble – a speedy observation game reliant on sharp eye and quick reflexes, say the vendors.
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