Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Seasons in the Sun

Sunday, 20 March

My Lovely Lady 

Adrian, Nikki and the girls are on holiday at the moment.

They flew off to Fuerteventura last Wednesday and I got a text from Nikki that evening to say they had arrived safely.

They are staying in Jandia, quite a bit further down the coast from where we stayed in Calleta, almost twenty years ago, in 1993.

I imagine Fuertaventura is a lot more developed now than it was back then. 

But for us it provided the laid back setting for the type of holiday we were looking.

Both Charlotte and Adrian were off at Uni and we decided it was time the two of us should start to enjoy a few seasons in the sun.

Seem to recall you were the prime mover, putting aside a regular amount from each month's salary into a separate bank account for holidays. 

You would pay for us getting there and where we stayed.  I would be responsible our 'splashing-out' spending money.

Nothing fancy we agreed.   Just somewhere quiet and laid back where we could take things easy and go as we pleased. 

It was a pattern we followed virtually every year for over a dozen years.

What's more it was a pattern that worked and gave us some truly memorable memories.

And Fuerteventura was the first.

Our apartment was on a quiet road overlooking the sea and a short walk from what counted then as the 'centre' of Calleta.   

We spent our days on the beach by the little marina and and in the evenings it was an easy walk to one of the two or three restaurants that were there.

During the second week we hired a car and began to explore the island, landing up mainly at really long secluded beaches where there was hardly anyone around.

We did some sightseeing but not much. 

Just enough to let us see a bit of the the island and maybe discover a new restaurant for lunch.

Like the day we landed up in Gran Tarajal just to see if it was actually all that 'Gran'.

It wasn't. 

But  but on the way out we followed a little side road.  

It led to a tiny fishing village called Las Playitas.

We watched the local children diving and playing in the harbour, and then breaking off to swim out to meet a little fishing boat that was returning with that morning's catch.

When we saw all the fresh fish it its nets, it was clear it was time for lunch.

The little restaurant right by the harbour welcomed us in to its cool interior.

When we enquired what was on the menu, the chef went out to the boat and came back with a platter for us to chose from.

Fish straight from the sea, cooked beautifully, and a chilled bottle of crisp, dry Spanish wine. 

Pure happenstance and simply perfect. 

It was a freewheeling approach that was to work out for us wherever we went.

And when our time was up, we handed the car back and headed for the airport.

But not before taking the first of our 'last night of the holidays' photograph.

Which became something of a tradition on all the holidays that followed.

Sadly our 'seasons in the sun' together are now nothing but memories. 

But such good ones and so typical of the wonderful times we shared.

So difficult, so very difficult, to accept that's how it now is. 

Will love and miss my lovely girl


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A Close Resemblance

Tuesday, 15 March

My Lovely E

Charlotte and Ivan brought Caitlin, Reuben and Felix over for the weekend.

Roped Ivan in to helping me sort the garage out a bit.

It gave them both a chance to check-up on some of their things that we have been storing for them.

It also gave me the opportunity to sort out some boxes of slides, photographs and negatives that I haven't been through for ages.

When I was doing this, Ivan came across this one from back in 1974...

It was taken at the family celebration to Granny and Grandpa's Golden Wedding Anniversary in July that year.

He immediately spotted a strong resemblance between Charlotte as she looked then and Felix.

Charlotte was delighted about this as up to then she hadn't spotted it herself.

After they had gone home I continued looking through the 'archives' and came across these photos of her when she was just two weeks old.

I think they will be really struck by, what is to me, an even greater similarity.

And, for reference, here's one of Felix taken that same weekend...

You were always much better than me at this type and it would be so nice to know what you would have thought.

Just really sad that you are not around for him to get to know you and see what a lovely Oma he has.

Miss you so much my lovely girl.

Cannot tell how flat things can seem at times without you or that lovely smile of yours to brighten my life.

Will love you, Forever.



Sunday, 6 March 2011

Minstrel of the Dawn

Sunday, 6 March

My Darling E

Watched a programme tonight, which I had recorded on BBC4 a couple of days ago.

It took me back all of 40 years or so.

Originally transmitted in 1972 it  featured a studio concert by Gordon Lightfoot.  

The slightly soft early-days colour images - no high-definition colour then - and the songs he sang made me think immediately of what was then our last year or so in Wilton Court.

Can't for the life me of the number of our flat there.  Was it 29? 

But I do remember that the early years weren't always easy for us as money was often tight. 

But we made it our home and we had such fun there is spite of that.

By 1970, things were a little more comfortable and my student days were over.  

I had graduated - helped in no small measure by your support and ruthlessness when it came to me revising - and had been able to cut myself a much better deal at work as a result.

So, after several years of sacrifice, we were able to begin to enjoying ourselves.

Gordon Lightfoot's 'Minstrel of the Dawn' album was released that year and I remember the LP was seldom of the turntable in the flat at weekends.  

For us it became a favourite LP and the soundtrack to a summer of fun, laughter and new-found freedom.

We never did get to see Gordon Lightfoot perform live, but he was introduced to the audience during a Rod McKuen concert we were at in the Albert Hall.

Even when we moved to Parkway, that LP still got a lot of plays.

Then,  when cassettes took over, our 'Minstrel of the Dawn' LP somehow got lost along the way.

Now, fast forward thirty-five years.

We were in Vancouver celebrating our fortieth wedding anniversary.

On our last full day of a wonderful and memorable holiday, we were walking up Robson Street heading back to the Pacific Palisades Hotel when we passed a large music store.

Inside we soon found the Gordon Lightfoot section and there it was - 'Minstrel of the Dawn'.

Only now titled 'If You Could Read My Mind' in recognition of the 'hit' single that Gordon Lightfoot had with that track from the album all those years ago.

Didn't have anything to play it on there in Vancouver. 

But as soon as we were home those old familiar favourite songs were filling the house.

Still do from time to time - as they are now as I write - even though you are no longer here to share them with me.

Or sing along together to ones like 'Me and Bobby McGee' just as we did way back then. 

Funny how a grainy, black and white programme from the archives - or snatches from a long-forgotten song - can bring so many memories flooding back.

And tear at your heart at the same time. 

But that's the way it is with so many of my memories now.

Miss you so much.

Will love you, forever.