... for brief and frenzied spell of unpacking, washing, and re-packing for camping trip this weekend. Luckily, am still feeling relaxed from lovely week in a magazine-perfect holiday cottage in Whitby on the East Yorkshire coast, and am making huge efforts not to compare its pristine paintwork and uncluttered surfaces with home.
Whitby is a strange and completely wonderful place-- a mixture of laid-back surfer cool, with vast, empty beaches pounded by north-sea rollers, and old-fashioned English seaside charm (the breeze is spiked with a vinegar tang from all the fish and chip shops along the pier.) However, these are both offset by an intriguingly dark undertone which sets it apart from other seaside towns. The beaches are pretty much devoid of shells, but are littered instead with fossils and jet, and thanks to its Dracula connection (Bram Stoker wrote part of the book while staying in Whitby and looking over to the ruined abbey on the clifftop opposite) the town boasts the title of Goth capital of Britain. Daughter #2, aged 9, has decided she wants to be a goth when she's older, and spent a long time gazing wistfully into shop windows draped with black crushed velvet and vampiric jewellery.
One of the best things about the week, apart from the miraculous weather and the plentiful supply of cold Pimms was the fact that for the first time in 4 years we were not staying in a tent. Camping has its charms, but after the last few deadline-dominated, sleep-deprived weeks I'm not sure I was in the right mood to appreciate them and it was bliss to soak in a bath (a gorgeous claw-foot Victorian bath, at that...) and fall into a proper bed at night.
However, all good things come to an end. Back home, the rain has returned, making a proper assault on the mountains of sandy washing inadvisable, and I keep coming across reproachful piles of beach 'treasures' which a proper mummy would no doubt display imaginatively, but which induce in me a spiralling apathy. Worst of all I am unable to ignore any longer the fact that none of my clothes seem to fit anymore, and am forced to contemplate a bleak spell of abstinence from cake and chocolate. (Am cheered by the thought that Pimms is still allowed-- actually, is virtually an essential diet component, probably containing 5 statutory portions of fruit if you drink enough of it...)
Anyway, must go and re-load washing machine, and dig out list of camping supplies for forthcoming expedition. Please, if anyone can think of a creative use for 57 flat stones, a handful of ammonites and 4 revolting limpet shells do let me know.