Diesel’s jab day again today; took him to the vet for it so that he could check his ears and teeth as well. We took Bubbles too, so that they could both have a half-yearly MOT! And luckily all was fine with both of them, touch wood. They came home, jumped out of their cages and rushed into the kitchen for the hearty scoff that they know always follows a visit to see Uncle or Auntie Vet.
My Dad has been an artist all his life; beautiful copperplate writing, pencil sketches of his time inBurmain the war, watercolours of the peaceful English countryside. And when he was a boy he lived inEastbourneand would draw pictures in the sand; people walking along the pier were so impressed that they would throw pennies to him!
Co-incidentally R and I are going to Eastbourne tomorrow on a coach trip – R wants to visit a couple of bookshops and I shall visit the pier and look down at my Dad’s sand, as I always do whenever we’re there. Not that we’ve been for years, come to that, but we spotted this trip and were going to take my parents and R’s Mum, but as it’s November and they have other plans we said that we’d go this time and suss it out and then book them all in on the Spring trip, if they’d like to go. It will be nice too because R won’t have to drive and I won’t have to navigate – we can both sit back and relax!
When we were children I was always desperate to go to Eastbourne for the day and we had to go to Prince’s Park first, with mounting, trembling excitement from me as I dragged Mum, Dad and Brother along the road, breathlessly rounding the corner and breathing a sigh of relief, because ‘my horse’ was there. He was a beautiful big grey called Taffy, patient and willing, and was one of about half a dozen giving pony rides. If he was being ridden when we arrived I would always wait for him; it had to be Taffy. I don’t know whether it was because he was the biggest, or because he was different, being the only grey amongst the other ponies, or because he was my first ride, but whatever the reason was, I loved him! “Passionately, devotedly and hopelessly” (Importance of Being Earnest), and I wished that the girl would let go of his bridle so that we could be really free. I knew that he wouldn’t run, and I so wanted it to be just him and me. He probably wanted to be free too, to run on the sand in the shallows of the sea. Riding him would make my whole year, and I looked forward to being grown up and bringing my own children there to ride him, assuming in my childish way that he would be there for ever.
Oh, I remember that stretch of grass so well, and it always evokes poignant memories now of that little girl who was me, so thrilled to be riding him for all of probably two minutes at the most, and so sad to leave him as we left Eastbourne behind us and turned away to go home and I knew that it would be a whole year until I saw him again. Inwardly sad, though, never outwardly – I had learned THAT lesson a long time ago, as you might well remember!!
He and that little girl have long gone now, but their Echoes will be there, and I shall bump into them tomorrow – Taffy and me, galloping along the edge of the waves, along the long golden sand, pausing to stare out to the horizon and then slowly ambling back home, casting long shadows behind us as we face the setting sun.