I am currently on my annual family holiday in Borth. We have had a holiday in Borth every year for the past few years as my dad and stepmum own a caravan here. Borth holds a very special place in my heart so I love coming here. Last year while we were here, I went through a period of sadness and melancholy which was about a perceived fear of future nostalgia. This year, I’ve had almost the opposite reaction.
As I watched my three boys skimming stones today while we were on a walk somewhere in the middle of Wales (somewhere near Devil’s Bridge), I thought about how happy they were at that particular time. They really were. They would have stayed in that spot, skimming stones, for hours if we, the grownups, hadn’t decided it was time to continue our walk after about half an hour. They were content. They were enjoying themselves and enjoying the moment. I was too. We were searching for the prefect skimming stone, or, as my youngest son called it ‘skimming PERFECTION!’. We kept finding the opposite: ‘skimming PERFAILURE’ (another term coined by my youngest).
Watching them skim stones made me think of my brother, their Uncle Steve, who I wished I could transport to where we were at that moment. He loves skimming stones and did the same as they were doing as a boy, and I thought about how he would have loved at that point in time to help my three boys perfect their skimming technique. The eldest, in particular, couldn’t quite get it. I had to educate him (I’m not a bad skimmer myself).
When I skimmed a ‘sixer’ my three boys were very impressed. They thought that was worthy of much adoration. They managed a ‘fourer’ but not more. Mummy rules of course!
This was half an hour in the day, a point in their long lives, that I hope they remember. I want to imagine them, in twenty years time, in a pub somewhere (probably London), nursing pints of larger, and remembering fondly skimming stones in a river on some random walk that ‘dad took us on’. I see the conversation as follows:
‘Where was it when we learnt how to skim stones, to perfection, as Toby would have said at the time?’
‘No, we were on holiday, I am sure of it.’
‘Oh was it one of dad’s walks?’
‘Yes, I think it was, it was a river somewhere, so I’m thinking Wales’.
‘Yes, Wales, the middle of Wales’.
‘Do you remember how mum skimmed a sixer?’
‘What was a sixer?’
‘You know, you came up with the word, it meant a stone that bounced six times.’
‘Did that mean six bounces or six hits of the water before going down?’
‘Don’t you remember? It was six bounces including the last plunge’.
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes, there’s no way she could have done six bounces then a plunge into water!’
‘Oh yes, and do you remember how on the way back mum talked about “nature’s carpet”, that moss stuff on the ground and Josh made that joke about spilling wine on “nature’s carpet”!’
‘You made that up!’
‘No, I didn’t!’
I hope this conversation does happen at some future point. I hope it is a happy occasion when they meet up and they are all grown up and handsome. My sister, my brother and I often fall into a similar banter of reminiscence when we meet up, the three of us, now: ‘Do you remember when dad used to take us to watch the cars at Keele Services, over the bridge?’ and so on.
That’s my hope for my boys. I am sure it will happen and knowing that, makes me feel happy, not sad.