the picture above, was taken in the late 70s, somewhere near the spanish/french border.
each august we'd pack up, and drive somewhere around europe 3 kids in the back of the car, 1,400 miles, 3 days later we arrived. i can remember travelling some nights after eating dinner, which normally consisted of local chicken, smash, savoury rice, luncheon meat fritas, corned beef, mmmm. we would carry on driving in our pjs, windows open, hearing crickets, looking at the clear skies with twinkling stars. i felt safe, secure. like this was how its meant to be.
when we arrived we spent a month, swimming, building sandcastles, walking, laughing. everyday was spent at the beach. i would put my mask on, i could never master the snorkel. walked to the waters edge and dive under, i could do this for hours, or it seemed like hours. i would examine the small gold sand particles. be amazed when there was a ledge in the water that made a dip. i loved going in when the sea was a little rough and jump the waves, or disappear under them.
my dad had a tiny boat, which i called molly after reading a topsy and tim book. we'd go out in it. drive round the coast, with no life jackets on( strangly we would only wear life jackets in england!) put the anchor down, and just jump into the water, i was only seven. i would see coral, swim with small fishes ( something i could never do now), then pull into a cove and have lunch. mum wouldnt normally come as she couldnt swim, and she was scared of the water. its a weird feeling being so far out , with just sea surrounding. like nothing matter. everything seemed small and unimportant.
we used to have great times, i remember so much, drinking robinsons orange juice from warm plastic cups, having pastries for breakfast, allowed to drink coke everyday. keeping the passports and cash in the glove box and no one must know! having a £20 budget to stick to each day. not touching the animals in case of rabies, not having television for a month. seeing princess diana get married on a neighbours black and white television screen. smelling breakfast cooking in others tents. making friends, penfriends. living out doors, wearing next to nothing, and when i came home feeling so restricted in clothes. flip flops, fanta orange,sweets that were like pebbles, crossiants, i can still remember the smell of pesato notes, and our passports, puig shower gel. drinking calin and morphine, and night nurse if we were unwell.
then packing up, we would spend the day at the pool, while the awning was put away. last night chicken and chips. driving up the coast waving goodbye to the sea for another year. as we travelled back the weather would cool, past village catalan, the houses would change shape. into france, narbonne, carcassone toulouse. sometimes stop of in andorra. up towards paris, should we go east or west? first to see the eiffel tower. then to calais. onto sealink. home.