Thursday, July 23, 2009

" Andalusian Evenings....And Remembering Cornish Ones"

Here I am on holiday in Andalusia Southern Spain last week.
It's about 8 pm and the sun is still warm...but it's calm at this time and it's golden now and ( I think) at its most beautiful... AND I've long enjoyed lulling in early evening sunshine: sunshine when it's fading, when it's softening, when it's still lovely but no longer Full On...

This delight goes back YEARS:
As child/teenager, we had family holidays in St Ives, Cornwall. And each evening, I was always last to leave Porthminster beach.
This was the best part of my day. I'd hide away, waiting and staring and watching everyone depart...( loaded with their hampers, windbreaks, cricket bats, soggy swimsuits) and THEN ( only then) I'd lie in the sand to read in the day's final sunshine.......savouring characters and settings and plots... and ONLY after this, would I amble home (always by myself).......through the tangle of magical higgledypiggedy St Ives streets, taking ages on my travels....because I'd stop to peer at THIS ( fishing nets, the lifeboat station, a whole family rowing, an entire family laughing ) and I'd stop to gawp at THAT ( some pretty bracelet in a shop, a painting in some gallery, a lost dog, a very old lady sitting quitly alone )

And sometimes I'd bump into my father...He was like me: he loved "wandering", being a solo explorer, taking stuff sometimes on my way home, I'd glimpse him chatting to an artist in a studio on Downalong.... or sometimes he'd be found sitting on the harbour wall outside The Sloop, supping a beer while staring out to some distant horizon...AND I can see him now, my suntanned Dad with his amazing white hair ( white at 40).... and most of all, I see his bright very blue eyes.

We usually stayed with family friends in a house called Santa Lucia on Clodgy View.
This house overlooked Porthmeor Beach. The house was white, in style of small Italian villa; it was fetchingly scruffy with blue painted balcony smiling down at the sea.
In recent years, Santa Lucia has been been pulled apart then put together again ( renovated!) and it's no doubt quite something inside ....but I remember its huge sunny room overlooking sea and sky, its white walls, its vivid abstract paintings, its long squashy sofas ( where shells and sand and ice-lollysticks always lurked behind cushions) ....and I remember its tiny cobbled courtyard, the path where flowers and weeds tumbled together...and the long dark galley kitchen with its fabulous mural covering an entire wall...And I remember coming home at the end of the day, into the kitchen, where everyone would be drinking tea and unloading their beach bags and wringing out swim suits.... and there'd be sand on the floor and empty pop bottles on chairs and water wings on the table and everyone would be talking at once and our dog would be barking and a huge red beach ball would slither and roll against everyone's legs.....til someone would kick it HARD against the high courtyard wall...

But that almost-evening time on the beach WAS special. ( Cue for violins?)......... And I still appreciate this time of day when I'm away. In fact I appreciate it so much that I got through 4 books last week ( and started a fifth)...... admittedly at OTHER times too, such as on the plane and last thing at night...
1st book off was nicked from my son's bookcase:
Hanif Kureish's portrait of the end of a relationship in " Intimacy" ( I'd meant to nick it for years) which brimmed with memorable thoughts......then Elizabeth Berg's beautifully written " The year of pleasures" ( slight resemblance to Jane Juska's " A round-heeled woman"??) also Patrick Gale's new book" The whole day through" ( the happenings of a single day) and also Anita Shreve's " Testimony", about the effects of a scandal at a New England boarding school on the lives of those involved. I've read only one other Anita Shreve ( " The last time they met" with its stunning ending) but after reading " Testimony" I want more.
And the superb book I've yet to finish is a collection of short stories: " The People on Privelege Hill" by Yorkshire writer Jane Gardam. Her stories really are priceless; sensuous, comic, moving. They've got the lot...


Blogger jinksy said...

Sounds like a perfect holiday - enjoy! :)

11:14 am  
Blogger liz fenwick said...

Thank you for sharing...felt like I was there.

6:35 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

I did! Thanks.

Liz F:
Hope you felt holidayed out!
Nice hearing from you Liz.

5:37 pm  

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