My home looks like a jumble sale and smells of campfires. Will it ever look like home again, I wonder? My bathroom is occupied by a Sprout who hasn’t been to the toilet all weekend 😉 and doesn’t exactly smell of roses. He’s exhausted – no voice at all, which is the usual first sign of tiredness with him – and is somewhat prone to making teenager grunts but it’s lovely to have him home, I think. I was wise bringing him home nights, even though it meant he didn’t get a badge, because he was so tired last night (the one night he was allowed to stay) that he took himself off to bed a good three hours before the rest anyway and missed half the “Grand Howl” or “Big Bark” or whatever it’s called when all the Scout troups gather round the massive campfire on the main field.
Smudgelet and I had a splendid day without him. Am I supposed to say that? Somehow, turning eight has changed Smudgelet once more into a lovely child to spend time with. What is it about being seven that makes a child so obnoxious? Whatever it is, he seems to have suddenly outgrown it and was great company this morning on our “Grockle Day”.
Junior Driver at Alum Bay is a treat. It’s a real miniature road layout, with traffic lights, roundabouts, give way signs, the lot. There are little cars which the kids get to drive and they have to obey the basic rules of the road like driving on the left and obeying the road signs in order to get a “driving license”. Smudgelet was in his element as he negotiated the turns in his big white tow-truck. He loved the big Victorian Carousel too, and was disappointed to learn that he couldn’t change his name to James to match the horse he was riding.
Then came the moment of truth. Hmmm… talk about conquering fears! Smudgelet wanted to go on the chair lift. He’s a real daredevil and the only member of the family who’s not particular perturbed by heights. Certain
other members of the family have been on this chair lift before and know only too well the effects of the sheer drop on their internal organs! But there was no getting out of it… it had to be done. The first part wasn’t too bad as it was over the trees and didn’t have the sensation of being very high up. It was when we breeched the cliff edge and began the steep drop towards the shingle below, blown from side to side by the breeze and kerthunking over the pylons that it didn’t feel quite such fun. The picture on this page just doesn’t do it justice.
At the beach I gave way to temptation and agreed to take Smudgelet on the boat trip to see the Needles from close up. It was fantastic, truly fantastic. The coloured sands of Alum Bay are famous and even more impressive from the sea. It was just such a beautiful day for it too, with the sun glimmering off the pure white cliffs leading to the Needles themselves, and the sea an incredible azure blue like a deep lagoon, with a gentle wave inside the natural harbour of the cliffs. The cliffs themselves towered above us. We could see where, during the Wightmeet last year, we had walked along the clifftop to the Needles Battery and then down into the depths of the cliff to a gun emplacement just above sea level. Then we carried on, closer and closer to the mighty Needles and the lovely red and white lighthouse at the end. With an evil glint in his eye, the captain of the boat asked us if we wanted to get wet and proceeded to take us further out, beyond the shelter of the cliffs. Hmmm. Rocky would be an understatement. Not sure whether to laugh with excitement or cry with terror as the boat tipped from side to side and the waves splashed over the edge of the boat. It was fun, but I was not incredibly disappointed when he declared he’d frightened us for long enough and would be turning round for the return journey!
We were back just in time to pop home to our local church for their summer fete. They always serve the most incredibly lunches, and today was no exception. Replete and laden with unwanted purchases – too many books for my already crowded bookcases, some carpet which I am sure won’t cover our bathroom floor, six dishes which caught my Dad’s eye, and a rather melted iced ginger cake, we set out once more to collect Tiddles from camp…. but only after the drawing of the raffle. Talk about embarrassing – they chose Smudgelet to be the person who drew the tickets from the hat and yes, you guessed it, we won first prize – the hamper. Lots of goodies for tea tonight, if only I can summon up the energy to prepare them. Well, it’s hard work enjoying yourself, you know.