V appears at the camper this morning, grinning with a paper bag in hand. It contains the wetsuit she’s hired in town. Very smart, not as thick as we’d imagined and, being designed for surfers, it doesn’t have the more flexible shoulder fabric to aid swimming. But… it’s a wetsuit and she’s going to use it today.
A little time later, there we are, witnessing her first proper sea-swim – half a mile in one direction, then turn around and back the way she came. In the pool she knows she can do this in 40 minutes and in the sea she’s aiming to come in well under an hour.
From the dry sand, we can see that the goggles V’s wearing are causing issues. She does a set of strokes, then she’s faffing on around her face. The distance makes it difficult to work out precisely what the problem is, but its clearly distracting from the easy strokes she makes between interruptions.
Stan finds friends, a piece of seaweed and a long stick to keep him entertained. M records the moment with a video and lots of pics. I can’t shake the memories of a nightmare I had when V was five.
In the dream, we were on the pebbled Pevensey Bay beach; I was watching V play in the shallow surf. Then my dream-self glanced away a second and when I looked back, she had completely disappeared. I ran into the water and hunted, arms outstretched feeling the bottom of the sea-bed desperately hunting, trying to look through sea water as I went deeper and deeper… I woke up gasping for air from holding my breath underwater so long. In absolute panic I ran through to her room to find V, arms flung across her bed, lost in happier dreams of her own.
I’m not taking my eyes off her as she swims, I don’t care how old she is.
So we watch her, and eventually we trace our way back to the beginning and she’s running toward us, to the outstretched towel and hugs of congratulations. 48 minutes for a first go, we’ll sort out the goggles and try again tomorrow. It takes 3 of us to get her out of the surfing wetsuit, not designed for a swift exit, and M kindly takes the spare stuff so that V and I can run.. well, jog, for a bit, before we meet M back at the van and go for coffee.
The rest of the day is easy-going. Lunch at V’s, she and I wander out for more coffee, then a walk into town to find a place to eat.
We’re hunting for local. Taverna Grifa is stainless steel shuttering and bright-lit stone floors, crowded with Spanish (all men?) noisily finishing their day at 7pm. V and I think this would be perfect. M points out the sunset that we could be watching. Old dynamics, step-family-tensions, threaten to resurface. We all work at not going back there. The debate of where to eat is at least, a lot less contentious than yesterday’s somewhat heated conversations around accommodation.
M is adamant – we should go down to the beach. V and I can’t find anything in the town, either beside the old castle, or nestled in it’s six-foot thick walls that is open yet, or inviting. So just as the sky is starting to fill up with swathes of red, pink, gold and tango-orange, she and I relent. Walking downhill and all three of us are struggling to see anything suitable.
Ten minutes later, and finally, “Beach Bar Encuentro” offers us a seat in their tarpaulined conservatory.
“See” points out M “African Sunset Skys…” It’s impossible not to agree. And then, V says, “That could be a good name for a blog.”
All tensions dissipate, over a bottle of wine and hamburgers that actually look like the pictures on the menu, we return again to the topic of my blog name.
Lots more laughter. The themes include: adventure, not giving in to age, so being daring, but more than that, and there’s an hormone element… We look at other blogs, admiring some of the clever plays on words and the ones we find less appealing “perimenopausal-woman”.
Then I play with the word Menopause – Meno –pause, paused. And it strikes me…
– because I don’t want to. Not for age, not for fear, not for hormones or anything else.
I follow V’s instructions, look it up on the domain checker and have purchased two years of the same all before taking the first bite of my goats cheese and walnut burger.
So adventures of watery and wordy kinds on the beach today. I grin to myself as I snuggle beneath the duvet, this evening. So wonderful, having V with M and I. Each time we navigate choppy family waters and come out unscathed I am washed over with relief. Here we are, sharing the important stuff, big and small. Being blessed with the enormous luxury of time that we’ve taken/been granted and managing, despite a few ups and down, to be peaceful all at once.