The rain may be splatting down the windows, and the woolly socks are definitely back out of hibernation but it was only a week and a bit ago that we were in Devon for the Dartmouth Regatta under wall to wall blue skies.
Most of the Regatta racing takes place in Start Bay, and when the course was laid with a marker buoy just off the cliffs you couldn’t have asked for a better vantage point to keep tabs on the various fleets, and send out cheers to friends who were racing below.
With a house full to the brim with family, Kitty and Elma were in their element, especially when their cousin Miss R-J arrived; a mere nine days Kitty’s junior, she and Kit were virtually inseparable, and incredibly cute playing together. They last saw each other at Christmas but that didn’t seem to matter to either, they picked up where they’d left off; two little friends playing tea parties, sharing crayons while they coloured in, and chasing up and down the balcony and round and round the garden.
Both girls were fascinated by the tent, they so dearly wanted to sleep in it so we set up their beds and let them have a little play, although common sense, walls and solid doors won out after the fireworks in the evening.
We hit the beach for a traditional swim and breakfast fry up on Saturday morning, and even Kitty made it into the sea, albeit only up to her tummy, but that was quite sufficient to justify a big Big Fish, taking full advantage of having her uncle to hand,
while a certain small Elma took full advantage of all of the cuddles on offer when her first plan – to taste each and every pebble on the beach – was surprisingly and consistently thwarted by all of her nearest and dearest within reach.
When the yachts hightailed it back to port to get ready for the fireworks we took the tiny trio up to the playpark to run off any excess energy with a bit of synchronised swinging
while Elma showed off her crawling prowess by escaping with her big sister’s hat.
We all met up again for supper. For all the fancy restaurants in the world there’s nothing that can really beat the freshest and crispiest fish and chips, with the very best company, and that gorgeous view.
It’s such a beautiful part of the world. You ‘d think that you’d never get used to having that view out of the window but it’s easy to become immune to it when you live there all the time. But now that I live in a county that only avoids being double landlocked by a bit of the Severn Estuary being in Gloucestershire (which scarcely counts in my book) I could just sit and drink it in.
But then it was time for the finale. When I was a little girl growing up in Devon the Regatta fireworks were the bookmark for the end of summer. Each year we’d try different combinations and permutations of parking and walking to get the very best view. Dartmouth is nestled into a very steeply sloping valley and over the years I’ve watched fireworks and the Red Arrows from just about every position in the valley, including on board a yacht in the harbour, and my Grannie’s garage roof.
This year, I’m confident was the best yet.
One of the farmers whose land includes the slopes high up above the town decided to open them up; one field for parking and one for sitting. And so Saturday evening found the nine of us snuggled under blankets and wrapped in woolly jumpers perched high on the hill in the lee of a helpful banked wall, looking down almost on top of the firework pontoon.
If we couldn’t quite hear the music being piped over the tannoy I’m not entirely convinced that we lost out by it, and we saw every last little twinkle and glimmer. Kitty was captivated, and Elma, well Elma demonstrated the resilience to noise that has rendered her able to sleep through Kitty’s Baby Tap class week after week, and after an initial coo, fell soundly asleep while showers of stars exploded over her shoulder.
Not a bad way to spent the weekend. Or as a little voice said as we slogged back up the motorway on Sunday afternoon:
“I don’t want to go home, I want to go to Grandpa’s house! I love Grandpa’s house!”