The easing of government restrictions today has meant lots of chat about traffic lights, corridors, quarantine rules, tests before and after flights - and summer sunshine. I quite understand the last of these - ever since
I bought my new hose it’s hardly stopped raining.
Otherwise this isn’t a conversation Mr B and I feel qualified to join. We haven’t been on holiday
together for nearly nine years - and even on that occasion the early signs of Mr B’s health troubles were starting to show. I did, it is true, have a very splendid holiday in Spain six years ago with the Middle of the Darling Daughters and her family
- I still remember those sunny days on the beach at Guardamar where Spanish matrons flocked to see us to gaze at the Twins in their sun tent and remark, wonderingly: “Dos bebés!”
Holidays, at home or abroad, are sadly not on the cards for us these days. We have, however, been remembering Holidays Past, in particular those magical, never to be forgotten, moments which set your spine tingling.
Visiting a Pioneer Village in Ontario with our cousins Bob and Jackie, we visited one homestead where an old fashioned piano took pride of place in the drawing room. Jackie seated herself at the piano and proceeded to
play, first God Save the Queen, and then the Canadian national anthem, the stirring Oh, Canada. All the staff, dressed in traditional costume, joined in as she played - it was magical.
that early evening stroll along the prom in Sitges when we came across eager beavers setting out chairs ready for some kind of musical performance. The eager beavers were quick to encourage us to take a seat which we did. It would have been rude to refuse.
The music was unfamiliar to us, but enjoyable nevertheless - but what happened at the end of the show was unforgettable. It was, though we didn’t realise it till later, Catalan Day when the proud Catalans fiercely celebrate their culture and identity.
As one, the audience drew white handkerchiefs from their pockets, their handbags or (presumably) from up their sleeves and waved them against the starry sky as they sang along to the most passionate of anthems. We had absolutely no idea what was going on but,
oh, we felt the passion!
Talking of starry skies, that was another Magic Moment, up in the heights of Mount Teide in Tenerife where we had joined a star-gazing
tour. An hour or so before, we had watched the sun set, wrapped in blankets supplied by our guide and supping champagne. It should have been a romantic moment but Mr B was thoughtfully engaged taking photos of other couples who wanted to record the moment.
Our Magic Moment came when our guide took us into the dark, dark night to show us the stars. Never have I seen so many, so bright. I have forgotten the names of almost all the constellations our guide showed us - but I will never forget the sheer wonder of
Another spine-tingling moment came while walking the walls in Dubrovnik in what was then Yugoslavia. Being mad dogs and Englishmen to a fault, we had
obviously chosen the hottest time of the day for our walk, a fact that Our Boy was at pains to remind us as we huffed and puffed in the searing heat. We had almost reached the steps which would take us down into the city below when the first church bells started
to strike midday. One after another, more bells chimed, some booming, some tinkling, to our ears it seemed like a hundred or more all marking the middle of the day. Unforgettable.
Some years later, after the war which devastated Dubrovnik, we revisited the walled city again, marvelling at the painstaking reconstruction using traditional materials as far as possible to recreate the famous rooftops - more than 60% of which had
suffered from bomb damage. We stayed on the walls until midday to listen for the bells - but sadly only a few still chimed. Bells are more expensive to replace than rooftops. Dozens had been silenced.
It makes you think, doesn’t it? Suppose there had been a "Do Not Touch" notice on top of the piano in the Pioneer Village? We only happened upon the Catalan Day concert by chance. We could have been unlucky enough
to take our trip up Mount Teide on a cloudy, starless night. A little later and we would have left the walls of Dubrovnik and been on our way back to our hotel at midday.
Magic moments are to be stored away and treasured - and brought out every time you need some summer sunshine...