Tuesday, June 12, 2007

winter sun

It's been hectic in the House of Jelly lately, and blogging fell by the wayside. Then Fatty and the kids and I went away for a few days, to take a break from headaches (both literal and figurative, both ours and others'!). We chose to go to the same beach spot we go to every summer, to try a winter escape.

The first couple of days were cold (not cold-if-you're-from-Alaska cold, but definitely cold-if-you're-in-a-bikini cold). I wondered if perhaps the weekend would be disastrous, with children bored and mutinous and Fatty sighing over the cryptic crossword, having done all the suduko and regular crosswords to be found. After all, what do you do at the beach when you can't swim in the surf or loll about on the sand?

Apparently you:
-walk along the sand dunes, slowly (because the kids keep stopping to make imaginary castles from bits of shell and weed and scraps of plastic)
-put together a large jigsaw puzzle, with everyone helping, elbowing each other good-naturedly
-eat ice-cream (OK so this one seems a bit odd, but trust me we all found it to be a pivotal part of the holiday, cold weather and all)
-watch movies
-read fat novels (Fatty was reading a Bill Bryson book about Bryson's travels in Australia, and couldn't stop giggling. It was most disconcerting - Fatty chortling is a rare sound! -but it lifted my spirits to hear Fatty hysterical with laughter. I think he really needed to go to a unit at the beach and read silly books)
-take the path along the headlands, spotting fifty or more dolphins in the sea down below
-gaze out to sea until, heart thumping with happiness, you see a humpback whale wave hello with a huge dark flipper
-go out to dinner on the coldest night of the stay, shiver your way through the meal (alfresco dining in winter - what a crock!), then run home along the footpath, all somehow ending up holding hands, with Ben shouting 'Don't go too fast! Wait for me! I'm the runt of the family!', and the rest of us laughing at Ben and shuddering in the wind and me thinking I'll always remember this moment.

Our last day, the sun came out and the wind died away and it was balmy. We swam and jumped waves and the kids boogie-boarded in the shallows. And while that was a delight, I knew that we would have had fun even if the weather had remained steadfastly frigid.

Although my childhood was by no means awful, it was, for a number of reasons, nothing like the childhood that my own children are experiencing. Family holidays were rare. Family outings were not relaxing, for one reason or another. Many factors were beyond my parents' control. My point is simply this - I am glad to be able to create joyful memories with my children that I believe they will treasure. I want to remember it all, too, but failing that, I will write down here what I most want to recall forever.

'Sweet dreams are made of this'
(Eurythmics, 'Sweet Dreams')


Val said...

Jelly, this post was excellent on a couple of fronts. First the description of a winter visit to the beach, something very underrated, and you didn't even mention the best thing - lack of crowds. But I was there, after the fact, enjoying this holiday with you. I could well believe that it was the tonic of life slowed down that was needed for the hectic House of Jelly.

Then there's the social cohesiveness of the family, and most wonderful of all, your being in the moment and enjoying and appreciating it. Just beautiful.

Val said...

Oh, but just two concerns: ice cream and dining al fresco???

Remiman said...

I can't imagine a more idyllic family outing! Good on you Jellyhead. ;-)
ps. I remember picnicing with friends at our summer beach in February with two feet of snow and twenty below zero,......and a huge bonfire. ie; it's the peole who make the good times.

Remiman said...

That would be "people" :(

thisisme said...

What a great idea for the house of Jelly - it sounds like you had a magical time. Poor Ben "the runt of the family" - that is hilarious

Motherkitty said...

I have one request -- the next time you go on a family holiday, please, oh please, take me along!!! You seem to have the most fun of anybody I know.

As my children were growing up, we didn't have the means to go on family vacations either. Yes, we went to visit family. But, no, we couldn't afford regular vacation places such as the beach or the mountains. When our children were older, however, we managed to get to a few places, such as Disney World and Sea World. They still talk about those vacations as if they were magic. What they do talk about most, however, is the times we did simple things, such as trips to the lake to fish or walk about or just look at the wildlife. Or car rides to see new places around where we live.

My point is: you don't have to spend a ton of money to make memories and that's what you are doing with your children. They will remember these trips forever because you and Fatty make them special.

Puss-in-Boots said...

What bliss...a beach to yourselves, cold or not. Blue sky, bracing weather, dolphins, whales...heavenly.

But...I really question your sanity at dining al fresco...with the wind the way it was in the weekend?? I grizzled about having to go out and get my Lotto ticket and some wine...but I went!

Sounds like you all needed to chill out...in the relaxed sense of the phrase...and it obviously did you all good.

Don't work too hard.

susan said...

do you ever dream of being at the beach...

I believe you do dream it and you act on it! Visiting the beach is wonderful therapy, the rhythmic waves, the sand foot massage, catching some therapeutic light rays.

Thanks for taking us along (figuratively)!

TUFFENUF said...

The heat of summer here made me forget for a moment that you are in a different season. Your wonderful writing descriptions always make me feel like I am right there with you. I am glad that you take the time out from everyday life to stop and appreciate the wonderful family experiences that you have - and share your thoughts with us.

Kerri said...

I love that song (Sweet Dreams are made of this) :)
Your vacation sounds like just what the doctor ordered (and needed). The beach is wonderful at any time of year. It's the perfect place to be. Thanks so much for taking us along.
I love your descriptions of Fatty :) I like the sound of the book he was reading. I must look for it in the library.
I'm glad you had such a lovely time with your family Jelly. Memories are made of this, indeed.

shellyC said...

I just LOVE the beach in winter - swimming aside!!

And like you - i want to create so many happy memorable times with my family.

I can hear your family in years to come -"remember that time we went away and it was so cold at the restaurant we all ran home and Ben kept yelling out - wait for me I am the runt of the family" - you will all laugh so much and the friends and new family around will roll their eyes and say "Another one of their funny family jokes that you had to be there!"

I want loads of those too!!

meggie said...

What a wonderful post! I can feel your joy in your weekend together.
I have just finished Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island about England. I too was bursting out laughing- couldnt help it!

Sandy said...

Jelly, what a sweet post. Going to the beach in the winter is very different and you & your family made new memories together. I remember a winter beach vacation spent with my son's family and remember having to huddle close because of the cold winds blowing through your skin as we made it back to our cottage along the beach.

Ben & Laura will remember all the lovely & fun times you spend together and all the wonderful memories that you are creating with them. I know because my children often talk of the times we spent together and how much fun we had doing this, and that on family vacations.

And guess what? Family vacations don't stop just because the children grow up...Now you also are accompanied by the grandchildren as well as your children, and the fun starts over with creating new memories with the little ones.

Anonymous said...

I do believe that they will remember these day you provided for them when they are older.

Alice said...

Glad you found the thrill of being at the beach in winter, one of my favourite times to visit. I'm not a swimmer so it doesn't worry me if I can't go in the water but I never tire of looking at it, especially if the waves are big and stormy.

Wonderful that you found other things to do that were both a surprise and equally enjoyable.

They say 'a change is as good as a holiday' - perhaps you'll enjoy a few more 'changes' in winter.

Mimi said...

Sounds like you made the best and had a nice time in the end. What a beautiful photo too! Sometimes with all the planning in the world things just turn out the way they do.


thisisme said...

Hoping that everything is well in the house of Jelly.

Sandy said...

Hoping that you're just too busy to blog.