Monday, August 10, 2009

Fathers and Fields and Firelight




It's summer here again. Fin and I are travellers, watching  fields pass through the train window as we speed to another destination. We play drawing games and people watching, giggle at private jokes and marvel at the pace of London - happy to be just passing through.

We crossed the country to see my Father - Poppa-gee to Fin. A journey of many stages, car, train, tube, tube, train, car... From the green rolling hills and wild pebbly beaches of Dorset, we looked out at endless skies, huge dusty cornfields and pink cottages clustered like roses at the side of the road.

My Father cleared his diary for two whole days. For a girl with a dad who always had something else to do, it was a gesture that bought a lump of happiness to my throat. I found I needed to look away and sigh deeply to calm the tears, as Finley chattered to Poppa-gee about our long journey - as though this was just another day.

For me, it was as though I had stepped into the sun whilst dressed for rain and I struggled to shrug off my heavy clothes to bask in the warmth.

We went to a Norfolk beach replete with sand and a long expanse of shallow water that Finley frolicked in with unbounded delight. Look! he would shout every ten yards out, still standing with the sea around his middle.

Back home for a day and then off to camp at our own mini Bridport festival. It's the best kind of camping, where you know everyone and can simply hop from camp fire to camp fire, accepting tea and catching up on news before retreating to a shady tent for a well deserved siesta.

Finley spent his time in the woods setting up camp with the girls. He came back for meals and a quick wood-smokey cuddle and then melted away again into the trees. We would glimpse him making trips across the campsite purposefully, or when we were needed to negotiate a misunderstanding. But mostly he just enjoyed the freedom to be himself, unencumbered by technology or the watchful eyes of his parents.

We ate salad rolled up in roast beef, warm courgette tortilla, buttery squash with cumin and beefburgers fragrant with coriander leaf. We ate like kings, with the sun on our faces, squinting when the smoke came our way.

The moon came up long before the sun had set. A huge tangerine that rose above the trees even as we watched. It became paler and paler as it moved higher into the darkening sky, until finally it illuminated the whole field and torches were stowed in pockets, redundant.

When Fin was in bed, long after his usual hour, I took Nick's hand and we walked the lanes around camp in the moonlight. Everything had taken on an otherworldly look under the full moon and we stopped at gates to look into the fields, half expecting to see something magical dance across the silver grass. Then the sheepskins and blankets called irresistibly and our heads had barely touched the pillow before sleep stole up and quiet descended on the camp.

We go back again tomorrow. I can't wait.