Malachi is most definitely at the ‘why’ stage. This morning, over breakfast, he asked Jackie ‘why?’. She had a ready answer, smiled, and said ‘I anticipated that one’. ‘What does that mean?’, he asked. ‘I knew you’d ask why?’, she replied. A mischievous grin game over his face. ‘Why?’, he said. Why is it that children always win that game?
Incidentally, does anyone know a good method of removing baked beans, beef stew, apple juice, milk, and goodness knows what else from cream damask covered dining chairs?
Today was a beautiful, if cold, day. We therefore had a trip to the beach at Highcliffe. Ponies were much in evidence on our drive through the forest, so the safari plan was more successful today than yesterday.
We walked along the beach and back to The Cliffhanger restaurant where we had lunch together before Sam and Malachi set off back to London. This was the only time I have seen the beach here full of people, obviously taking advantage of the rare dry day. Dogs and children were particularly enjoing themselves.
Malachi’s favourite occupations were throwing stones into the waves; avoiding the surf; and climbing rocks. Watching his Dad scattering pebbles into the receding tide, reminded me of similar games I had played with him when he was pretty much the same age as Malachi. The little lad, according to his Dad, misses no opportunity to climb about on rocks. Naturally he loved climbing on the huge rough boulders on this beach. Observing Sam guiding him in his exploits reminded me of my son’s guiding hand in Cumbria more than twenty years ago, which I described on 14th July last year.
Malachi wasn’t interested in the cuttlefish bone Jackie picked up and showed him, and we were more interested in unusual stones than he was. Stones were just there to chuck into the waves. We, however, spoke of an interest in pebbles with holes running through them. This led us to Matthew’s extremely long bell-pull. In his house in Seaford, Mat had rigged up a lengthy rope running from the fourth floor. On this cord were threaded a string of stones from the beach with holes running through them. Jackie and I, unbeknown to each other, had contributed stones for our son’s collection during our years apart.
We stood at the ends of the breakwaters, enjoying the thrill of the spray ricocheting up from the rocks. A certain amount of bargaining was involved in determining how much time Malachi could spend riding on his father’s shoulders, and how much he had to walk. This involved using the posts bearing lifebelts as markers. Malachi had to make it to ‘the next red thing’ under his own steam to warrant being hoisted and carried aloft. Again this brought back memories of my carrying Sam in the same manner. Most of the way, in fact, Malachi was so absorbed in his rock climbing as to forget his desire for a ride. At one point Sam and I had to follow him along a line of rocks, in age order, with Grandpa bringing up the rear.
A highlight of the return journey was the group of young men doing wheelies on the rocks. They were very competent and very confident, for their limbs were unprotected and none of them came a cropper.
The Cliffhanger was very full. Jackie had gone on ahead and felt somewhat uneasy about holding a table for four with one coffee for an hour. The very friendly staff were quite relaxed about it. When the rest of us arrived it was so warm inside that it seemed incongruous to see windswept people with faces reddened with cold entering the establishment in search of a table. Sam and I enjoyed haddock, Jackie scampi, and Malachi a burger; all with chips and salad. Jackie and Malachi had icecream to follow. Sam drank coffee; Malachi blackcurrant squash; with water for me.
This meant that salad sufficed this evening, after a visit from Elizabeth who brought Christmas presents from Jacqueline and from Danni. I drank a bit more of the Marques de Montino rioja reserva 2007 I had opened with my sister. Jackie imbibed a small bottle of Hoegaarden. We did have bread and butter pudding afterwards.