Seven weeks after starting the new job and living in the caravan we finally feel settled and that we’ve got the caravan and the awning as we want them. So much so that we’ve got the weekend off and rather than go home we’ve invited our Jellybeans across to visit. It was a bit hit and miss at first as to whether or not they’d make it as the eldest, true to form, has come down with a stinking cold, being a teacher this seems to happen every holidays. The minute she stops, the bugs take hold and the snot sets in.
Friday arrives and we’ve got a short shift ahead of the said weekend off, a 4pm finish. Quick dash home, the commute is horrendous, all thirty steps of it, trying to dodge our way through caravans arriving, children on bikes and scooters and dog walkers enjoying the late afternoon, unexpected sunshine. In the seven weeks since we left home we’ve had every possible form of weather thrown at us and non of it has been pleasant. We’ve been under inches of snow twice with all the service points gushing beautiful water features as the pipes began to thaw.
We’ve trudged through Glastonbury style mud over Easter, the rain was relentless for days. It was the kind of rain that we’ve not seen since we lived up north, good old Bolton rain, the stuff that wets you through.
Quick tidy up before the Jellybeans arrive, washing machine on, kettle on and wait… the phone starts to ring, they’re two minutes away. One last glance round, all is tidy and ready for their arrival. Their car appears, they are squished in and amongst a multitude of cases, carrier bags, bedding and snot. Car unpacked into the awning and they’ve definitely landed, they’ve brought enough stuff to stay a fortnight. Now to try to tidy up, again. Table booked at the local Toby Carvery in a couple of hours time, we all pile into the car and head towards food. It seems we are all starving as plates are piled high, a month’s worth of catching up to do and the refillable diet cokes flow. Suitably fed and watered and feeling stuffed we head down towards the beach in an attempt to walk off some of the calories and let the sea air blow the germs away.
Sunshine, warmth and birdsong awake us on Saturday morning. The sun is making a rare appearance so we decide to take advantage. Walking boots are laced up and waterproofs, just in case, are grabbed. We point the car towards Highcliffe Castle.
As we round the castle towards the car park, people gather in little clusters watching as a bride climbs the steps towards married life. Car parked and we descend down opposite steps towards the beach. Looking back it’s almost like Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, here’s hoping I don’t have to climb them back to the car, my little legs don’t do steps or hills.
People are out enjoying this unexpected weather, walking dogs and playing with children. Two teenage girls brave the elements and strip down to the stringiest of bikinis whilst they concentrate on the latest photos for their Snapchat and Instagram accounts, the sun may be shining but it’s not that warm.
A trundle along the edge of the sea reveals rich pickings for a beach combing forager. Empty crab shells, pretty spiral shells complete with squidgy inhabitants, various bits of seaweed and interesting looking bits of driftwood.
In the distance we spy acrobatic jet skiers, we head towards the rocks close by to sit and watch. They zip up and down counting the waves, here comes a big one, off they go somersaulting into the air providing entertainment for a good half hour, they salute us as they finish and zip off into the distance.
Further along surfer boys lie on boards bobbing up and down in the sea, waiting for ‘the’ wave. We stand a while and watch. We stand even longer and still they bob up and down, we aren’t quite sure which wave they are waiting for, maybe they just enjoy relaxing on their boards in the sea, who knows.
The poorly Jellybean needs a wee. We head up towards a building up on the cliff, possible cup of tea too. The cafe is slightly better than a cup of tea and a slice of cake, a bow tied waiter greets us at the door asking if we’d like a table for four in what now is a rather swanky looking restaurant. We quickly retreat taking our walking boots and snot with us. Round the side of the posh cafe appears a public loo, perfect. Snotty Jellybean hurries off quickly.
“Deb! Deb!” I hear my name being called. Unsure that it’s actually me that it’s being directed to, remember we’ve only lived here for less than 2 months and don’t know anyone down here. I find myself looking at the person shouting to realise it’s one of my colleagues from my previous life. In my last job I was lucky enough to be able to work with an amazing group of people that I was really sad to say goodbye to. Standing in front of me is Konrad, a lovely guy I had the pleasure of working with and who unfortunately had to endure my dreams and tales of caravanning weekly. It was so lovely seeing him and his wife, spending a few minutes catching up before we all went our separate ways once again.
Back to the car, The now happily married couple pose for photographs with their guests. Faces aching from smiling, feet aching from wearing silly shoes and frilly dressed girls start playing ‘Catch’ with suited little boys all providing a backdrop to our filthy parked up Volvo.
Back to the caravan and it’s surprisingly mild. It’s been dry all day. This must be only the fourth or fifth dry day that we’ve had since we’ve been on site. The rain has started to grind us down over the last few weeks. A lovely evening spent chatting with the Jellybeans in the awning is the first time we’ve actually used the awning beyond lunchtime. Jellybean number one has decided that rather than sleep in the warmth of the caravan, she’s going to be sleeping in the awning, she feels it will help her snotty slumber. All tucked up in bed, the rain starts to bounce on the roof, is there no end to it? Where is it all coming from?