Why it's fun following in Cliff Richard’s footsteps
For the summer that wasn’t a summer, it’s been quite a summer.
My reasons are thus: 1) The day the baby stood up and ran round the house (cue fanfare, ticker tape, fireworks — I am a Jewish mother after all…).
t was an occasion entirely unforeseen, as hitherto she had not so much as taken a step. In fact, she had resolutely rejected every offer of instruction and gone out of her way to ignore the walker at all costs.
Her defiant determination to travel in a horizontal rather than vertical stance was such that I’d begun to wonder whether she’d gone all Animal Farm on me — “Four legs good, two legs bad” and all that.
And then one day, after bathtime, everything changed. “Walk”, she said, clambering to her feet. And walk she did, right round the room, capping her performance off with a celebratory jig and a spot of jumping up and down. A few small steps for girl perhaps, but one giant leap for girl-kind.
Now there is no stopping her. She runs everywhere at a pace, waving her arms about her head to indicate to all around her that “no assistance will be needed thank you, even if you are thinking of trying to hold my hand to stop me running round in circles rather than heading for home, or throwing myself down the big girls’ slide while my mother has another panic attack”.
I may be gaining grey hairs at a rate of knots, but I’m still as proud as Punch, Judy and probably the dodgy wooden crocodile too.
2) Our first proper family break.
Now, my memory is certainly not what it was, but I could have sworn that when Cliff Richard crooned that he was going on a summer holiday he mentioned something about the sun shining brightly and the sky being blue.
I am also pretty sure that his luggage didn’t include wellies, waterproofs and hot-water bottles, yet as I packed for our trip to Norfolk you’d have been hard pressed to tell if it was July or December from the contents of our cases.
Had we headed for the continent, I’m sure we’d have been assured of sun aplenty. But when we considered the list of things we wanted to take with us and calculated what it would cost us in excess baggage, we realised that the choice was simple — remortgage or stay close to home.
And so it was that we chugged out of our driveway and headed east, the car grumbling like a beast of burden and me WAP-ping the five-day forecast every 15 minutes. Heavy rain. No, it’s changed to thundery showers. No,– heavy rain it is…
To make matters worse, the purchase of a new(ish) car had done something strange to my husband, turning him from a perfectly normal bloke into a stranger whose only conversation was of body-coloured bumpers, interior trim and miles per gallon. I was half expecting him to make an unscheduled turn-off in search of driving gloves or a selection of nylon socks to go with his sandals. The baby and I focused on rousing choruses of The Wheels On The Bus by way of distraction.
It seemed de rigueur to stop off at a Little Chef for lunch, and after the obligatory egg on toast we all felt much brighter. The baby finally achieved her ambition of getting a whole pot of grapes into her mouth in one go, although every time she moved her jaw to chew strangers at neighbouring tables were peppered with a hail of green bullets. We beat a hasty retreat.
Despite the forecasts, fortune smiled upon us. The sun did shine brightly and we built sandcastles on the beach, bottle-fed lambs and made friends with the horses at the end of the garden.
Proper old-fashioned fun with lashings of ginger beer — it could almost have been an Enid Blyton tale, just minus the mysterious strangers and Timmy the dog.
The whole trip would have been perfect, had the baby not taken against the travel cot, forgoing her usual 7.30am start for daily protest at the crack of dawn.
It might be my age, but I’m exhausted. In fact, I could really do with a holiday.