Monday 6 September 2010


As you can see, my scarlet swimsuit and I are back from our only too short sojurn by the sea. I am cross because I was obliged to acknowledge an even more restricted physical capacity than last year. That's a reality. As it happens, just between us, the small hotel to which I have been going for too many years to admit to, was rather more like a convalescent home this time. There were four walking sticks - canes, if you are over the Pond - two wheelchairs, one pair of crutches and sundry obvious disabilities, such as lost limbs. Since there are only forty rooms this is quite a high proportion of the less-than-whole, and, accustomed as I am to a life of gossip, (Welsh, you see), I actually enjoyed being told the stories behind them all. (I have to bear in mind that we will be objects of gossip, too, of course). Still, it is a lovely place in which to be less than whole and talked about. On one level, idyllic would reliably describe the entire experience, paricularly the surroundings.

However, life being made up, as I have found, with positive and negative aspects to just about everything, the reality also included jelly fish in the sea, wasps on the land and the Mistral wind blowing over both. The latter is particularly sneaky because it whips the temperature off the sea, the sand in to your eyes and hair and, indeed, everywhere else exposed and less exposed. One such blowy day was lost to the holiday. There could be no shade because the parasols all blew over and no swimming for this delicate lady because the sea was colder than it is in Wales - no, I am not exaggerating; I've tried both and I know of what I speak. On another rather cloudy day we took off to a fairly near, much more fashionable and exotic resort. This provided a further reality check. The Port is unbelievable: yachts the size of most houses moored on one side and grim tourist stall/shops, and 'watch-out' restaurants on the other. Though, to be fair, had I not driven the pace by being seriously hungry and, thus precluding a more intensive search for a watering hole, I am sure there would have been more acceptable solutions somewhere off that strip, or even on it. The hinterland was a different kettle of champagne: lovely to look at shops and jaw-dropping people to go with - and in - them. The Guru was with me and we took a boat trip around the bay at his sensible behest. Now, instead of yachts the size of houses we saw houses the size of palaces. In three languages we were told who had and who did own the grandest of them. More gossip, I loved it.

Overall, it was a great day finishing with yet another fantasy/reality check. The volume of traffic on the road going back to our quiet little secret was London rush hour in school time, times a hundred. Being familiar with the area over decades, I encouraged the Guru, who was, of course driving, to leave the main road and follow the coast road. We had no map and he, with good reason, was not happy to trust that I knew what I was doing, nor, even, where we were going. I was actually using my familiarity with the names of the places by-passed by the right road in a run which had been routine for me since before his Mother was born, never mind himself. This stunningly lovely route was followed in tense silence while he gave out 'we-shall-be-in-this wilderness-for- the rest of time', and I gave out 'wish-I could-enjoy-the-beauty-but he'll-be-so-cross-to-miss dinner-though-I-suspect-glad-to-find-me-wrong'.
Dear Reader, we did get back in time for dinner and for the rather more rewarding gossip of a small hotel where most people have been coming for ever. How do you think I knew about the background to the illnesses and injuries? Garden wall stuff, of course. To soon...

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