Now, after a regrettable navigation incident which saw us circle several times around Stonehenge, leaving me to think dark thoughts about Tess of the D'Urbervilles lying down on the altar stone pre-execution and the dog to cower under the front seat waiting for the sobbing to stop, we are on the Isle of Wight on our proper holidays. This is our third summer holiday in 1958 and my pitiful navigating is greatly assisted by there only being one, or possibly two roads I need to remember. They all begin with a 3, anyway, and if the worst comes to the worst, it would only take me a couple of hours to get back to my starting point, which is an improvement on many of my other getting lost incidents. It is good, the Isle of Wight. It is holidays from the Ladybird Book of the Seashore, with thirty three varieties of bucket and spade, coloured sand in jars and sponge cake, and not a decent cup of coffee to be had for love nor money. (I am exaggerating, obviously, because it is more fun like that). The 'I Spy' book for the Isle of Wight would include the following:
1. Brooding, heavy cloud cover, shading into heavy mist at times.
2. Union Jack flags in gardens.
3. Slow moving coach parties of pensioners walking four abreast down roads with no pavements.
4. Toddlers on elaborately decorated reins like something Prince Philip would use for his coach and four at Blenheim.
5. Devious elderly fraudsters, straight from 'salty seadog' central casting, in charge of deckchair hire. "Oh, that was a twenty was it? My eyes aren't what they were, you know".
6. Pleasingly crap museums with four fossilised crisp packets to reduce your children to catatonic despair within seconds.
7. Terrifyingly narrow roads for me to swerve around whimpering, whilst failing to appreciate the beautiful coastal views.
8. The repetitive sound of me muttering "I HATE this" as I try and negotiate #3 and #7 in a large car with no spatial awareness while indifferent children shove empty crisp packets down my t-shirt.
9. Me and my children being the least appropriately dressed people for the British summer in a twenty mile radius. This is incomprehensible - I spent most of my childhood in a cagoule in a dense Highland fog, walking, blinded by rain, spurred only by the - often spurious - promise of a tea room. Yet I seem to have conveniently edited that part of the holiday experience out of my mind and all of us are equipped with nothing sturdier than the odd pair of shorts.
10. Horrifying quantities of freckles on my face, condemning me to another year of being told I have shit skin by evil dermatologists and their Heath Robinson machines. (Only visited for Facegoop purposes. Obviously, I can't afford to see a dermatologist for real, much as I would love to).
So yes. It is the holidays, hence, my absence from the interwebs. There is, actually, perfectly serviceable broadband in the house (this house, which is lavishly well-equipped and, I am certain, nicer than any house I will ever live in) but I am signally failing to write anything, possibly because every time I open my laptop one of my children perpetrates an act of vile aggression on the other. Hopefully the sun will come out eventually and they can throw seaweed at each other and poke invertebrates and drop ice creams until they are exhausted. If not, you might not hear much from me. Which is probably a mercy.