A whole morning in front of us. Oh, what to do, what to do.....
In our optimistic haze we decided we could obviously hike the length of the Devon coast, or at least from Hallsands to Start Point to see the lighthouse. First thing in the morning 5 miles round trip sounds like a great idea.
Which it probably is for someone who isn't several stone overweight and seriously out of shape with 4 children and 3 dogs in the hiking party. And, who designed these walks? Must the entire way there be uphill? I mean 2.5 miles uphill. Seriously?
If I had thought about it a bit more clearly (which would have required several more cups of coffee than I managed), I would have been able to deduce that a lighthouse is going to be on high ground and therefore, this walk would require substantial vertical effort.
The men and youngens set off like this hike was a race for life. I was happy to let them surge ahead. In the first 10 minutes I thought I was going to burst a lung. And why exactly was I carrying my cold weather coat which weighs a not insubstantial amount but wasn't waterproof enough yesterday to keep me dry and yet was heavy enough today to slow me down? There was that temptation to abandon everything I was carrying. Instead I was grateful I opted to let Marc carry the camera.
My friend, M, used to be a competitive runner. In fact, one of the parts of yesterday's story that I just couldn't bear to include was that she ran all the way to Beesands yesterday and back in the rain with the three dogs, just to do some reconnaissance work for us. She did this before I managed to get dressed. But today she slowed it down and we had a girlie bonding chat while she encouraged me to keep on putting one step in front of the other in her ever so gentle way. She never once complained when I stopped to catch my breath, even if I had just done that 3 minutes ago.
A profound sense of achievement overwhelmed me in a very private way when we arrived at the lighthouse and I was reunited with the other part of our travelling gang. Of course by that time, they had taken off up the side of the mountain to check out even higher ground (because of course, there is always higher ground).
I told them I would meet them on the way back. I looked out over the sea. I could hear the children yell and giggle over my shoulder. I soaked up the sun, congratulated myself on meeting today's objective and did I what I do best: watched the tide go out knowing that later tonight it would come in.
See, I've learnt that recently. No matter what happens, the tide is sure to come in and then it will go out. Tomorrow it will do the same even if I don't watch. The sun will rise and the sun will set even if it is raining. The stars will shine even when it is cloudy. Joy and happiness is inside of me and all around me even if I can't feel or find it right now. There is absolutely no use looking anywhere else for it. Right now, I am seeing it and feeling it all in Devon.
After our athletic endeavours, we stuffed our faces and headed to Slapton Beach for a bit of stone skipping, kite flying, castle building, and fishing. None of them were widely successful. In fact, none of them were successful at all. Nobody seemed to mind.
Once back at the cottage and properly fortified with hot cross buns with lashings of butter and sugary hot tea, the girls decided to try their hand at a bit of artistry; they painted a couple beautiful landscapes with our watercolours and then Abigail wrote a song begging for the sun to keep shining all week. The words are done and as I write the boys are working on writing the tune on the piano. I have to admit to being impressed by the effortless joy and happiness emanating from every pore of these children. It lightens my load and smooths more than a few wrinkles.
I anticipate tomorrow morning will bring more than a few aches and pains as I pay for my ambitious trek today. Stay tuned to learn if I am able to walk........
PS The end of yesterday's story (http://clare-panton.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/stopped-wind.html) was inadvertently omitted. OK, not entirely true. In my rush to share the magic with you I forgot to finish the fishmonger story. Just in case it was keeping you awake, I thought I should let you know that the fish was indeed freshly caught that morning. I know this because when we went back to pick up our shopping all of the fish was sold out and when I asked he told me I would have to wait for tomorrow's catch. When I asked what he would have, he looked at me like I was some crazy, city girl and told me every morning was a surprise.