Sybilla Hart reflects on her new life in the Essex countryside after moving up from London
Every year I nearly book a summer holiday, but then find some reason not to. I usually tell myself just as I am about to pay the holiday balance that the curtains in some room or other really do need replacing and the car has just had a service bill the price of a small, err, car. I had to ask myself as I made these internal deliberations, am I in my thirties or seventies? Exactly.
This year I vowed to overcome my fear and booked not one but two holidays, nearly knocking myself out in the process. Goodbye Mrs Sensible, hello Mrs Rational. This year we are going to Blakeney in Norfolk and Cadgwith on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall. I had to try and bat away circumspect comments such as, ‘There’s not a lot going on in Blakeney for children’ and, ‘Have you actually been three before?’ along with my own reservations about the mass flooding that practically washed away the next door village in Cornwall last year.
We are now in Blakeney and having a glorious time. We could do without the mosquitos, or rather I could as they always seem to make a B line for me. The dogs are not being as civilised as I would have liked either, but hey ho. As Charlie keeps explaining to anyone who will listen, they are ‘farm dogs’ and ‘not socialised’. Perhaps they are not the only members of the party who could fall into this category?
Charlie and I, not at all used to the notion of a holiday, respond in different ways. He collapsed in a heap on the sofa and I decided to phone up the cottage company and ask if we could stay on an extra week. The children and dogs covered themselves in mud, which seemed innocuous the first few times. We had gone a bit dolally. Was it the novel experience of not being at home, or the heat, or both?
After making the decision to enjoy the week I had booked as opposed to greedily grabbing another one, I relaxed and went for an evening swim with the elder children. All was going well until I wiped out in my silk shorts and matching top on the slippery mud. I was now going to have a pretty hefty bruise as well as no less than 27 mosquito bites all over my body. Still, we had had a change of scene and seen the seals — wasn’t that worth all the scratches and bites? To be honest, I would say so.
Charlie, while physically unharmed, remained sceptical. When we arrived back in Essex he said he was more exhausted than before he left. When I mentioned to him by way of reassurance that he had three weeks until the next holiday in Cornwall to recover, he raised his eyebrows. Persuading him to go to the Man o’ War cottage in Cadgwith may be more difficult than I originally thought.
‘I was now going to have a pretty hefty bruise as well as no less than 27 mosquito bites all over my body’
Sybilla Hart is a freelance writer and mother of four. She lives at Peverels Farm near Colne Engaine and tries to stay on top of things with four children under the age of ten