Having managed to scrape both sides of our car over the past week, it is clear I am in either in need of some new glasses, better judgement, driving lessons…or a holiday! Have decided it should be the last one and Will is conveniently going to Italy so we can borrow his car whilst ours is repaired (at my expense). I think I’ll get Walter to drive us to Suffolk where we have rented a cottage in order to spend some time with various family members and escape Jubilee madness in London…although I am a bit sad to miss the flotilla.
Suffolk also means returning to fond memories of childhood holidays…my dad sitting on the beach reading the Lancet, hot chocolate in the Susannah cafe in Aldeburgh whilst the rain lashed down outside, getting up at 5.30am to help milk the cows on the farm we always stayed on. Also my dad teaching me to row on The Mere at Thorpeness, where we will be staying next week. It is both comforting and slightly confusing that most of the places I remember from when I was 9 or 10 are almost exactly the same as they were over fifty years ago. Slightly more upmarket perhaps but broadly exactly the same. Anyone know the House in the Clouds…it’s still there!
My parents too found something very special about this part of Suffolk. Despite having each been brought up in different religious traditions (and as adults opting for none) they found great peace in the churchyard of a tiny church near Thorpeness and when my dad was dying over thirty years ago he told me he wanted his ashes to be buried there. It is a wonderful thing to be able to carry out the wishes of someone you love very much and we were thrilled to be able to organise for this to happen. My mum’s ashes joined my dads just eighteen months later. Now it is my pleasure to look after the memorial stones that have lettering carved by a craftsman who used to live on the farm owned by Walter’s parents. Wonderful circular connections. My sister, who is into these things, always said that several ley lines converged in this churchyard and that this accounts for the tranquility everyone feels there. Many people seem to have chosen this spot as their place of rest as, in contrast to the tiny church, the graveyard is large, spilling out into an adjoining field. I am going to enjoy taking our granddaughter to visit. My parents would have adored her but only lived to see one of their own grandchildren, her dad Peter. Will and Zannah came later and sadly only really had one grandparent, Walter’s dad.
Strange how ageing takes you back to childhood haunts. It seems to happen to most people, although I not sure if it is just those of us who were lucky enough to have happy memories. Does it still work if childhood was not such a good time? Maybe, like ambivalent attachment to parents, there remains a strange loyalty to past places even if you have not had a good time there. I’m pretty certain that part of my good feelings about Suffolk are to do with having my dad around (despite his tendency to read medical journals on the beach). As a busy hospital doctor, both in the NHS and in a voluntary capacity at the Italian Hospital, he was rarely at home and when present was often protected from the demands of his children by my mum. On holiday we could both talk and be with him. Dads are important and I’m really proud that Peter is determined to be the best dad possible, not having had a good role model in his own genetic father.
So readers in the UK, have a wonderful Jubilee long weekend. Thank you to Her Maj for an extra day off. Long may you keep King Charles off the throne. See you all in the week beginning 11th June when this blog will be one year old!