It is a beautiful sunny warm, almost hot, afternoon here in my back garden. The Alberta sun is beating down, I can hear my two boys playing with our next door neighbour’s children and somewhere off to the west I can hear a summer storm rolling in.
Mmmmm, summer. A word that when used here (Canada) is usually followed swiftly by ‘too short’, ‘brief appearance’, ‘too humid’ or some other negative focus on the months of June, July and August. It must be the British influence here of ‘let’s grumble about the weather’. I love summer no matter how long or short or hot or chilly the days are. To me it brings about memories of long summer holidays from school where adventures were to be had. Local beaches, trips to Europe or further afield if you were lucky. The hunting of local markets and ‘tourist tat’ shops to bring your BFF home a ‘present’. Postcards scribbled at a pool, beach, river’s edge covered with sunscreen and drips of the last sticky ice cream. Cameras rolling, film rolls stacking up and eyes rolling of the adults present knowing they were going to have to pay the earth for half a film with heads cut off, and out of focus images. The rest, and most precious photos would not be of the stunning sunset, or delicious dinner, but of the holiday romance that had enlightened your life…..toddler, tween or teen – we all had them!
I have lots of rather dusty, hazy memories, much like summer itself, of sitting on beaches reading the summer novel – way before the ‘thing’ of book clubs. Two stand out which I think, if you have time, inclination or will you should take a look at too. The first is Wild Swans by Jung Chang. A beautifully written book about growing up in communist China. The second made famous by the deliciously stunning Penelope Cruise, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. The story of the lives on the quiet Greek island Kefalonia, changed by the presence of the Germans during the occupation in the Second World War. This is not a book review – go take a look at Amazon if you want that – to me they are quiet memories that flitter in and out of my head as the sun beats down. If I close my eyes I can still smell the sunscreen, hear the children laughing and playing in the pools around me; I can taste the tapas and drink the wine.
I spent one summer on Inter rail. Traveling around Europe for a month by rail (no surprises there), boat, or dodgy other means of cheap and rickety, over crowded stinky transport. The furthest I got was the Greek Islands. I had no plans, not a lot of money and if I am honest, not a lot of, well I was going to say common sense, but I had common sense just not a lot of worldly sense. I was naive to the big real world out there. Gave all the benefit of the doubt and many coins to people on train stations…..
I showered in places that I wouldn’t now dip a toe, slept on beaches and ate many boxes of Frosties (Frosted Flakes for north American friends). Sometimes getting myself into stupid situations – it had started off stupid, traveling with a ‘friend’ who had no common sense who drank the last of our water on a 12 hour ride down the east coast of Italy minutes before the train left – only to jump off the same train with a purse in hand to buy more… no ruck sack, no passport and no memory of which platform the (same) train was about to depart from…..but I survived. Wiser, not sure, more worldly possibly, more mature, definitely.
Since then, holidays with my mum, or boyfriends and now my husband and my own family all stimulate the appetite of more adventures to be had. One day I want to get to Granada, Andalusia, Spain. The old capital of Spain, the city of the Moors where in the 13th century Islam and Christianity and Judaism lived together – the combined knowledge of the diverse religions created a city full.
I wish to get to Peru to climb mountains and quietly gaze at 3,000 year old art. Not a guidebook or rope or queue in sight, or simply dip my toes back on the beaches of Devon and Cornwall where the crystal clear cold water unveils fossils and I can dine on fresh fish and chips, hot and salty and wash it down with a pint of Scrumpy (cider – real cider – the ‘oh dear me I have to walk now’ cider – not warm apple juice cider).
For now, however, I am going to head inside as that summer storm is upon us. The temperature has dropped, the wind picked up, and it is time, not for a long cool glass of Pimm’s no.1 but for a cup of tea.
I was reminded by my wonderful hubby on Sunday as we celebrated our wedding anniversary, memories are made of moments and moments need to be lived – rather than re-lived. He’s a ‘in the presence’ kind of guy and I am the hippy-British-chick who likes to dream with rose tinted glasses of days gone by and places to explore in the future with my family, making more moments and memories…..
Anon my summer lovin’ friends -
ps – The image quote is a magnet, and you can buy it from Chicalookate for only $4.00.