“Would you like a large gin and tonic?” asks Mine Host, as I struggle through the back door with my bags, baggage and a bunch of white roses. He explains - should explanation be required - that the Youngest
of the Darling Daughters has given him explicit instructions to “spoil me rotten.”
I settle for a mug of coffee, my Beverage of Choice after
a long car journey - and sigh with contentment. While The Cavalry (see yesterday's Daily Blog) are holding the fort at home, here am I wallowing in the Lap of Luxury.
My sister Maggie and I have been looking forward to my mini-break at her place for several weeks, ever since the Youngest of the Darling Daughters came up with the idea. Earlier in the week, feeling proper poorly, I messaged my sister to warn her that
I might not be able to make it. Fortunately by Thursday I was able to follow this up with a triumphant: “I’m coming!” I'm not sure which of us was the more pleased.
We are determined to fit as much as we can into our two days. While at the same time making sure that we don't miss out on those long and earnest sisterly conversations which have been part of our lives since she was a baby in her pram and I, from the
height of my three and a half years, sought to introduce her to Life As I Knew It.
We meet up with friends on Friday evening for a trip to the cinema to
see Victoria and Abdul. I am told that we have exactly the same laugh. Maggie says she must have copied me, her being the younger sibling. We laugh a lot during the film (I wasn't expecting it to be so amusing) and spend a lot of time discussing, on our short
journey home, how Victoria was one of those women who always needed a man in her life, the more handsome and / or charismatic the better. My sister hastily reassures her fella that he is more than enough for any gal.
Saturday we head off, walking boots on our feet, binoculars around our necks, to walk over beautiful Hengistbury Head. I collect a colourful sheet entitled Autumn Scavenger Hunt from the Visitor Centre
where Maggie's Baz is a much-valued volunteer. The sheet contains twenty pictures of birds, butterflies and plants which I need to spot and, being me, I am up for the challenge. I tell Maggie and Barrie about a similar leaflet I picked up on a trip we took
with our Merry Band of Questers along the Chichester Canal - we had a choice between an adults and a children’s hunt but my friend Penny and I both opted, without discussion, for the children’s version on the grounds that it was (I) more fun and
(I) not so challenging that we wouldn't have time to enjoy our cream tea.
Off we go! Little egret - tick! Robin - tick! Wheatear - tick! Spider web - tick!
Goldfinch - tick, tick! The Fly Agaric - which is the red and white toadstool of fairy tales proves elusive - could I possibly substitute the umbrella mushroom which is less colourful but decidedly individual? By the time we reach the Beachside Restaurant
where we order fish and chips all round, I've ticked at least half of the boxes and made a not inconsiderable list of all the birds we have spotted which didn't feature on the Scavenger Hunt. There's a celebration going on in the restaurant where not
just one, but two, babies are marking their First Birthdays among family and friends. On his way out, Baz is offered a slice of birthday cake but is forced to decline because, even one possessed of the cheek of the devil can't exactly ask for another two slices
for Maggie and me.
We take the Noddy train back - it's the last train of the day so more and more passengers are crowding on. Somebody starts a Mexican Wave in
an adjoining carriage and everyone raises their arms in salute. We don't actually rise to our feet, being so crammed in that this would be impossible. Not to mention dangerous. Wavers to the manner born, we set about encouraging all our fellow passengers to
wave at every passer-by and almost everybody waves back. We are, indeed, a Jolly Crowd.
On Sunday afternoon, I leave for home after a morning spent with my sister
poring over our shared family history. In my car, a rather special souvenir from my mini-break in the form of a stone circle, created by Baz from a coat hanger and those stones you find on a beach with holes in them. Did you know the holes are formed by creatures
called piddocks? And don't you just love it when the Daily Blog comes over all educational?
I have fastened my circle of stones on the garden fence where
I can see it from the house. Every time I look at it, I will remember my special weekend - the scenery, the birds, the chat, the fun and the laughter.
my Little Sister - so very, very precious.