Taken on my morning walk along the River Colne, facing east towards the newly-risen Sun. A reflective time before hosting Zoom lectures.
I’ve just walked back from the swimming pool – one at a nearby hotel. It’s been a quiet, unassuming weekend and it was the perfect way to spend a fading Sunday afternoon. A cold drink, a swim, time in the hot tub, a good read – all with a cheesy 80s soundtrack in the background. Added sport included beating SoundHound to naming that tune. I’ve known the town as visitor and resident for many years now, but it wasn’t until last May that I walked into this hotel to meet an old friend who was staying there before she headed to the airport. Since then, I’ve been back, summer and winter. I like it. The place itself has become a friend.
The previous Sunday saw me on a drive down to the deep south of the island to two places I’ve watched change a great deal over the years, yet which I never tire of revisiting. A friend (of tenacious longstanding) was celebrating her birthday at a beachside restaurant with a group of tourists and residents. The temperature rose, the mercifully-cooling wind blew, we ate, we drank, we chatted, we laughed and we had cake. The beach was full of happy holiday makers, the sea full of determined swimmers. A slow drive back took us to a fishing village in a small bay dominated by a ruined castle on the rocky outcrop above. The birthday cake digested, we stripped off and jumped in the water with the local ducks.
Two weeks back now, and my Sunday was spent on as well as in the sea. The friend who’d introduced me to today’s hotel, invited me to meet her on another island at a favourite bay. One catamaran and a speedboat later, there I was and so was she. The crystal blues of the water were clearer and colder than usual – choppy, too, as the wind blew hard. On the boat and at the beach, I met two Dutch women, who talked of heartbreak, survival and fortitude with gusto and good humor. For a while, I walked alone along the shore, I had time for reflection before the return boat journey. I travelled through time at speed, remembering the first time I was there, the lasting value of the friendships made then, moving past all those made since, arriving happily, bumpily, covered in sea spray, back in the main harbour with those made that day.