Monday, 10 February 2014


For our conjoined birthday we organised a weekend away to Easter Cottage in Rye, East Sussex. Having curated a select group of friends including baby Teddy, offspring of Wicki, we set about the challenge of integrating two young babies into a weekend of drinking, debate, and late night jamming. Perhaps surprisingly, these conflicting elements slotted together as neatly as jigsaw pieces.

As enjoyable as sitting around discussing the application of anthropology, making vast communal shepherds pies and consuming our own body weight in cheese and port undoubtably was, the highlight of the weekend for me was always going to be our trip to Camber Sands. This beautiful sand dune backed beach is a short drive from Rye and a world away from the creature comforts of the cottage. 

By Sunday I had about as much rich food and conversation as I could take; what I needed was a brisk and bracing walk along a windswept beach. Babies strapped into holders we left the relative safety of the cars and entered another world. Waves crashed on the hard golden sands, wind whipped through the grassy dunes, and the smell of brine was strong in the air. Clutching our takeaway teas we made our way onto the beach, buffeted by powerful offshore winds that tore at our hair and reddened our cheeks. 

It was a perfect day to fly a kite, especially a bold box kite in triumphantly luminous rainbow colours. It had been years since I had flown a kite, and I was unprepared for the sheer wonder of it. On a count of three Natalia threw the kite into the air and it soared immediately, taut as a guitar string. Up up and up it flew, and with it my spirit. We reeled it out till it was just a day glo dot in the sky above and when I grasped the handle I was shocked at the power of the wind. Oh what energy, what joy! KITE!!! 

I raced down the beach clutching the handle firmly in both hands, wellies stomping through the shallows, yellow mac bright as a buttercup. 'Yippppeeeee!!!' I screamed as the kites vivacity flowed through the string into my heart. You would have to be made of stone to resist the lure of a beautiful kite on a sunny day, and as I ran past people stared up and smiled. They pointed into the sky and laughed as their dogs barked, crazed by its fluttering shadow. The kite flew as high and proud as a flag, a beacon of brightness against the forget-me-not sky. My heart raced with sheer joy and laughter bubbled out of me. I was a woman mad with kite. 

And Felix? What did he make of all this? Well as it happened he slept soundly through the majority of the action, cushioned cozily in daddy's coat. But later on, while the group lolled in a beachfront cafe gorging on fresh donuts and sheltering from the wind, I took him out for a walk. Forming my body into a shield I sat down on the sand facing out to sea. His face shone with interest as he took in the pounding surf, cheeks and nose growing ruddy with the briny wind. His amazed eyes reflected the ocean; a thousand shades of blue dancing with the waves. His mouth formed an O of wonder and I clutched him closely to me. Back in the car he laughed
uproariously. 'He he he' he giggled, body wriggling with pleasure, shoulders shaking with mirth. It was a laugh born of exhilaration, bobbing on waves of delight and discovery.

“My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me". Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

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