Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Menorca memories

Views like this make me dream of stories
Mr Snaffle Shorts

I watched Mr Snaffle Shorts sidle around the hotel’s breakfast buffet. He’d carefully secret rolls in napkins before slipping them into his trouser pockets, and a quick sleight of hand would make other things disappear the same way – fruit, foil wrapped butter, cheese and ham, mini croissants. Every morning he’d appear in his special snaffling shorts and would cruise the buffet with a smug little smile – happy to be getting ‘one over’ on the management. I stole a glance at his wife. She didn’t look quite so content. She was probably contemplating yet another lunchtime eating sweaty cheese rolls on the beach, and yet another evening shaking crumbs and ketchup sachets out of the Snaffle Shorts. I’m sure that if asked she would side with her husband – they’ve paid for that food so by gosh they would eat it – but I am equally sure that if one morning he turned to her and said ‘darling – sod the snaffle shorts! Today at lunch let’s find a restaurant!’ – that her face would grow young and her smile would light the room.

‘Si vous plais, per favor’

I was incredibly enamoured with the idea of being able to speak Spanish when I was ten years old. I pestered my mother for a ‘teach yourself Spanish’ book, and was rewarded with one that, although marketed to children,  contained the most bizarre exchanges I’d ever seen. Every phrase was oddly adult -  ‘Excuse me, can I have a safety deposit box?’ and ‘ Hello – I would like to do some laundry, please.’ Somehow out of poor beginnings I managed to cobble together some knowledge – how to count to ten, simple polite greetings, and how to say ‘I like...’ (but of course!). I never actually took Spanish at school, sadly – I stuck to French – but I can still remember that phrase book, so had fun unleashing my Norf Lahndon Spanish accent into Menorca. Luckily my lovely travel buddy, good friend R, is far more knowledgeable at Spanish, and could steer the way when I lapsed into French instead – most memorable being ‘si vous plais, per favor’. Still, I think people were happy we made the effort!

Oblivious sun-worshipers

Sketching on the beach

Art has taken a back seat over the years to writing, but this holiday I was determined to get back into it and start sketching – anywhere we paused for ten minutes or so, out came the sketchbook. It was easier to draw from sight than from memory and I really enjoyed letting my vision absorb the surroundings and pick out little details. When you write or work with computers there is barely any distance between your eyes and the screen, and so it was wonderful to gaze my fill upon distance and colour. I vowed to start carrying my sketchbook with me everywhere again, but oh how quick it is to fall back into city grievances – my bag is too small, there’s no room on the trains and tube, I’m too tired. Pah. Although I could buy a bigger bag... *eyes light up at a solution that involves shopping*

The beach at Cala Galdana -
good friend R is in the foreground
 The pre-school Greek Chorus

As we boarded the homeward bound flight, a high proportion of toddlers boarded with us (and with their parents, naturally). Our little Greek chorus expressed everyone’s most hidden flying fears by wailing as loud as they could on the ascent. Thankfully they quietened when the plane levelled, no doubt pacified by whatever sweet and chewy thing their desperate parents could shove at them, and the flight continued smoothly... for a bit. As we neared the UK we hit a bit of turbulence – and one member of the Greek chorus – a small boy of around three years old – didn’t like it at all. He began a steady sob as the plane started its wobbly slow descent, and then at the top of his lungs suddenly yelled ‘I DON’T WANT TO DIE!’ It’s not the sort of thing you want to hear mid bouncy flight, to be honest. Mostly, though, I felt really sorry for him – someone must’ve scared him about flying or he’d seen something far too adult somewhere down the line – as it’s an odd association for a little boy to make. His parents tried to comfort him, but we were stuck with repeated yells of ‘I DON’T WANT TO DIE!’ all the way to touch down. I’d never been so relieved to land!

A summary

Menorca is a lovely, lovely island – with white sandy beaches, lots of history, individualist housing, and beautiful winding city streets. I did lots of gazing out to sea, and dreaming about future plans, and pondering steps to make future plans part of the present plan, and wondering whether I have a present plan and does it actually involve treats? I also had a fantastic time with lovely travel buddy, as ever – we find the same things incredibly amusing, we like the same quiet moments, and we natter about everything under the sun – and the sun we were under was kind to us, and didn’t burn or disappear behind clouds. If only a week didn’t gallop and recede so fast – feels like a long time ago now!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

September sun

Hello lovely bloggers! I hope the summer has been good and kind to you, and you are all pushing forward with your creative dreams. Do you feel refreshed and eager to forge ahead?

September is my favourite month. It hides a birthday (nope! Not telling! But not a decade changer. *grins*) .

I always feel that birthdays are our individual New Year – the world does a personal pivot and everything and anything is possible. My favourite colours come out to play in September – the beautiful russet and gold-tarnished leaves, the smudged sunsets and chalky sunrises. The last display of the sun is always its most spectacular, reminding us not to forget as the year grows dark and gathers itself inside to crouch by the fire. The blues of the sky shine with a frosted tinge felt in the extremities of morning and evening. Blooms and blossoms are soporific with berries – a woodland walk during daylight hours smells warm and content. The natural world is slowly preparing its bed, although there’s plenty of time yet for one last waltz – Nature saves its best frocks for such an occasion, and dresses each tree and bush with extra garlands. There is so much potential in this magical time of year.

I’m having a bit of a slow dance with the novel at the moment. I feel like I’ve been precariously clinging to the side of commuter life but lost my grip earlier this year and got suddenly and rudely whooshed down the plug hole into the thick of it. There are no port-holes down there; it’s a whirl of Stuff, like a mini cyclone – all of it claiming panicked dominance one after the other after the other – no time to breathe, to take stock of what feels right, what feels important. Every so often I cling to a ledge and try to focus on my heart’s desire – at which point Stuff will shriek with laughter and tug at my arms until I’m back whirling again, all raggedly around the edges.

But occasionally a rope is thrown towards me from above - usually from Wise Lovely Friends, who know me very well indeed, and understand I’m prone to Stuff and Worries. Sometimes I even tear work shirts into strips and make my own escape rope – and  although that is a far rarer occurrence; it does happen, as eventually even a whirly person gets fed up of being whirled and decides to take control.

So I’m clambering up again. I’ve got a holiday booked – a real-honest-to-God-proper-holiday – with beach, sun, swimming, and relaxing. A chance to have a think about where I’m going and what I want to achieve. And I think blogging regularly again will help massively – I’ve missed my connection with authors and artists – from self published stars to wannabe writers, from people up at 5am to scribble stories to people making scrapbooks for their next artistic project, from stylish bloggers who inspire with photography to thoughtful bloggers who make me think, smile, and plan perfect interiors for my castle in the sky. I’ve missed you all! You’re a big part of my creative life.

I’ll be back from my holiday on the 15th September – and will hopefully bring tales of azure sea and sun-kissed sand, of ancient white-washed stone houses guarded by olive trees, of bustling market places in fountain-splashed courtyards, of glistening harbours and boats laying anchor, and of a girl, her friend, their sketchbooks, and possibly a few stray cat buddies.