It’s only 11am. It feels like 2pm. I am staying with friends who have two young children and a cat called Noodle, and this requires a shift into a different time use mindset. The household mobilises early (by my current standards) meaning that just after breakfast I had already been recruited to an air clay animal production team. I was quietly pleased with my efforts, my ad-lib whale in particular.
Noodle manoeuvered into the lounge each morning where I would be half asleep on the sofa bed. There would be a ‘brrrrp’ as he jumped up, a ‘pad pad pad’ as he crept up the duvet, followed by a massive ‘purrrrrr’ and a wet nose in my face. When I was little, I would often wish for one of our family pet cats to sneak into my bedroom and sleep on my bed all night. That never happened – it wasn’t allowed, although the cats were totally spoiled and loved. If I ever have a cat, it will be allowed to sleep on my bed. All night.
My train didn’t leave until late afternoon on my last day, meaning that there was a window for a coastal walk that morning. Before I had left London, my friends had asked me, in the nicest possible way, if I had any practical footwear, or a coat suitable for South Devon climates…I didn’t. I felt slightly more prepared after I purchased a pair of pseudo practical boots in H&M in anticipation of the elements. The boots survived the pouring rain and the squelchiest of muddy walks through Dartington estate, a trip to the beach where the tide came gushing in so fast that it flooded my boots and I only just about dodged trench foot. Undefeated, they conquered the ups and downs of the coastal path that last day.
We were still in the van on the way to the coast when we heard the news that Karl Lagerfeld had died. The man with the sunglasses and the white ponytail. We lingered over this topic for a while, wondering how we were supposed to feel. We never really concluded that one, but instead it got us talking about the things that are important to us. This conversation continued after we’d parked.
It is hard to resist the feel-good factor triggered by a gloriously sunny day in winter. The sea stretched out in front of us and the spectacular jagged granite rocks loomed above. We perched carefully on the edge of the path to eat sausage rolls and cheese sandwiches, watching an excited small dog chase a frantic sheep through the gorse. I felt lucky to be there, grateful for good friends and the breathtaking views, relieved that the sheep didn’t plummet over the cliff edge, and surprised by the durability of my boots.