Hello, thank you for calling in. The earth has moved a little further around the sun and we have slipped into autumn. There is a chill in the air in the early morning and the rain has fallen out of the sky as if it has been queuing up behind a locked door. No washing has been dried on my line and for the first time in weeks I have worn long sleeves.
We were very busy during the school summer holidays, in the best of ways: a new grandchild, a special birthday celebration, a wedding, family visits and four days at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival. All were good but it felt quite tiring and there was no time for the Best Beloved and I to get away by ourselves for a bit of restorative peace and quiet, which I really missed, so when a friend suggested that we go to her flat by the seaside for a weekend, I gratefully accepted. Of course, this weekend had to fit around Shrewsbury Town F.C.'s home matches because the Best Beloved has a season ticket and he gets VERY grumpy if he has to miss a home match (we are currently in negotiations over an important family party in Cardiff on a December Saturday)!
That was last weekend and the flat is on the south coast of the Lleyn Peninsular in Wales, in Criccieth, which styles itself as "The Pearl of Wales on the Shores of Snowdonia". We'd never been there before but knowing that it has two beaches and a medieval castle was enough to get me fizzy with excitement as we loaded up the car and set off on Friday evening. We arrived in darkness at about 9.30pm, unpacked the car, opened a bottle of wine and ate a cold dinner before watching a film. Now, the Best Beloved had told me that I could choose the DVDs to take with us, a rare treat indeed, so I chose Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre, An Officer and a Gentleman and Local Hero; I did not choose any science fiction, superheroes, detectives or action films. That evening we watched...Sherlock, which the Best Beloved pulled out of the basket of DVDs we found in the flat because he didn't fancy any of the films I had brought! Harrumph! I began to feel a bit dubious about the weekend.
I needn't have worried because Saturday turned out to be a wonderful day. We went out for breakfast, bought a newspaper on the way and found Tir a Mor, which I think means Land and Sea and which describes itself as "a daytime coffee shop restaurant". Hmm. Well, their grammar may be a bit peculiar but their food is delicious and the service is good. It was a real treat. We lingered. I do think a leisurely breakfast is an excellent way to start the day.
We went back to the flat, packed a bag, collected a picnic blanket and went straight to the beach, where we spent the rest of the day. The temperature was 25 degrees, the breeze was warm, the sky was blue and the sea sparkled. It really didn't feel like the penultimate day of summer. The Best Beloved swam, napped and wandered up to the castle while I read a book and, when I really couldn't read any more, indulged in some crochet and looked around. To the west I saw the castle atop the headland which divides the town's two beaches and to the east I could see across Cardigan Bay to the golden beaches of the west coast of Wales, backed by mountains. I could just make out Harlech Castle, several miles across the sea. A seal popped up a few metres from the shore, disappeared and popped up again, repeating the entertainment for a couple of hours. In the late afternoon we had delicious ice cream from Cariad Gelato - actually, I suppose that was delicious gelato - while we watched a raft of about thirty sea birds diving for food near the shore. I didn't have anything else to plan, do or worry about and I felt properly content.
We left the beach at about 5 o'clock and went back to the flat for a cup of Earl Grey and a relaxing soak in the bath. To be honest, I was relaxed before I got into the bath but I was a bit sandy and salty, whereas after the soak I was relaxed and clean, which is not the same. I gently rubbed in some scented body lotion and donned my pyjamas. I felt lovely. We opened a bottle of wine (again) and ate a cold dinner (again), snuggled up on the sofa together and watched... Local Hero. I hadn't seen it for about twenty-five years and I had forgotten how much I like it.
I cannot remember the last time I felt so relaxed and happy. I said to the Best Beloved, "This has been a wonderful day, the best day I have had for a long time."
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x