A moment to re-align my thinking. I have been doing massive loads of housework today because an old uni friend is staying the night and then tomorrow son no.2's best friend arrives with his mum and sister to stay for a couple of days. And to be honest we have only just recovered from the week in Guernsey and the previous weekend's whistlestop weekend with my parents!
I loved being with my family. More than I'd anticipated - we are not your close crowd, dysfunctional in many ways. It finitially elt like a duty ride to please my mother, who is the one person among them who keeps in regular contact and seems to care, but in the event it was great to see everyone. Mum was gobsmacked, as it was a complete surprise and I had told her nothing about our arrival; it worked just as we had wanted, I got her on my cellphone and then walked straight in through the front door. They have been depressed of late. Dad's not well and immobile, and drinks far too much, Mum is wearing herself to a frazzle looking after him nonstop, and isn't too good herself, and little bro, who lives with them and works from home, is stressed from his massive job pressure and a legal battle to get a troublesome tenant out of the flat he rents out. Sis, who came on the Sunday afternoon with her husband and two of the kids, has been redundant for 6 years and her husband is doing two jobs to keep the wolf from the door. Nevertheless we relaxed and had fun together, and I know it meant a lot to the others, who have promised to keep in touch. Auntie has already befriended son no.1 on Facebook.
Guernsey was a dream week. The weather was amazingly hot most of the time but when there were showers they blew over remarkably rapidly; the wind cleared them from the sky as if with a big broom, and we were back to the sunshine that made the docks look so stunning with their little ships tethered in a bobbing herd. The sea is green there, actually turquoise green! I'm used to the Channel being a cold wash of grey, and I am certainly not used to it dancing and sparkling as it did at the beach. The 20-minute boat trip to the nearby island of Herm was therefore a visual feast both on the island itself and the trips to and from Guernsey.
And what did we do there? Well. Um. We visited quite a few museums for a start. Guernsey museum had a local youth choir entertaining outside, an impressive statue of Victor Hugo in the lovely gardens (he lived there in exile) and a vintage toy exhibition inside. I spent half my time watching 'Watch With Mother' (children's afternoon programmes in the 60's) on the little telly. Ooh, the memories! As a stark contrast we went to the museum of the Nazi occupation, and that was scary and chilled us. We emerged very sombre; fortunately we were able to follow it up with a look round the beautiful aquarium nearby and laugh at the little turtles fighting each other to get to their food. It was hilarious, because they kept shoving one another out of the way and treading on the heads of their poolmates.
We also went to Victor Hugo's home. It has been kept pretty much as he left it, and I am at a loss to describe it, you'd have to go there. He basically created, with his own art and a mixture of others' (Oriental art was a big part of this. There are watercoloured ricepaper insets everywhere), a reflection of his mind. He used to go round antique shops, pick up gorgeous wooden tables and cannibalise the legs to put on his self-designed chimney pieces. There are hidden and disguised doors all over the place, it must have been a Mecca for kids, and cleverly placed mirrors all over. The rooms are deliberately contrasted; you might come out of a mahogany-panelled dining room into a sparsely furnished conservatory flooded with light and with an impressive view of the sea. He was quirky too - there is one small area where walls and ceiling are completely 'tiled' with china plates and dish lids. In an adjoining room there was a washbasin created from the soup tureen whose lid had been the centrepiece of the ceiling! And there was one bedroom with a 'tree' - a big wooden freestanding candelabra - in the centre. We loved it and we felt we knew him so much better when we came out.
Other outings - well, we did a little military museum and a shipwreck one to please my better half (wonderful views there as the museum is on a fort situated slightly out to sea on the end of a causeway), lots of shopping for me and a bus trip to a craft centre with minigolf for son no.2.
The whole week actually did the job and relaxed us all. My beloved is usually on pins trying to work out the logistics but it was all done for us; transfer between plane and guest house, everything. He had nothing to organise! And son no.2 and I couldn't help but de-stress in such stunning surroundings. It was all like a kind of cross between, let me see, maybe Llandudno in Wales and St Malo, and made me feel quite creative. In fact I put together a haiku while watching a mother on the bus with her adorable little daughter:
To a mother's eyes,
Balding obesity is
Small, pink and dimpled.
Because, as I had learned the previous week, a parent doesn't really see you as you are; you are always the chubby baby!
word count: 991
"We make our lives out of chaos and hope. And love." - Angela Montenegro