Castles and canvas

So guess what? It’s raining, and since I’m underneath an actual roof, I’m totally casual about it. Rain on, my friend. Rain on.

Of course, we knew when we decided to go away camping for Bank Holiday weekend that it would rain. August Bank Holiday and rain are like bacon and…more bacon: two stalwart adventurers that will never be separated. BFFs for life. They took a blood oath and everything.

Oh gosh, I’m tired.

Anyway. We did go camping for August Bank Holiday, and it did rain for a fair bit of it, but it was so unbelievably brilliant that we didn’t mind. For me, camping is a traumatic experience – I don’t believe in choosing not to sleep in a bed, for a start, and a have a pathological attachment to hot showers, for a continuation, and terrible things happen to my hair without a hairdryer, for a conclusion. But in this company and in this setting, it was all just marvellous.

We went to Dorset, and camped at the top of a hill overlooking rolling hills, a ruined castle and a steam train. We traded an incredible view for an incredibly long walk down to the toilets and showers, but it was worth it. Views like that are food for the soul, even in drizzle.

We looked around Corfe Castle village, tramping around medieval castle ruins, tiny stone cottages and a big, echoey old church. We [I] slept badly, shivering and getting up three times to check on Henry, who each time had squashed himself into the smallest, most suffocating space in his sleeping compartment. He thought it was all a grand adventure, and didn’t mind at all.

Then there was the beach: a quiet little alcove we found in Studland with clear water, myriads of shells and properly golden sand. I had no idea we had beaches like this in England. Unexpectedly, Henry was beside himself with excitement. He sat,  hair stuck up in every direction with suncream, flinging sand everywhere and toddling off to the sea.

That evening we boarded a steam train (!) back to Corfe – OR HOGWARTS, YOU DECIDE – and watched a film at an open air cinema in the castle grounds. With fish and chips, and chocolate hobnobs, and the sky fading to indigo behind the ruined keep. Oh, wonderful. When we arrived back off the train near midnight, I put on two jumpers and an extra sleeping bag, secured Henry in place with rolled up blankets, and slept like a log.

Then it was nearly over. We packed up the car in the morning, drove off our hillside and through Corfe Castle for the last time, and went to visit a National Trust country estate at Kingston Lacy on the way home. It felt like we were suffering a little from grandeur-fatigue, but it was still delightful. It had an old organ in the dining room. Wide marble staircases up to huge arched windows. Paintings on every wall. High carved ceilings that made you gasp when you looked up, and up. Oh, and a cafe in the old stables, where we had cake (obviously).

We’ve been so busy this month, and Tim away so much, that our lives have shifted into autopilot. Work and dinner and meetings and bed, over and over, and hardly a conversation that didn’t involve practicalities or Henry. I missed our connections, the little habits and happinesses that make us ourselves. We found them again in Dorset, and I just can’t express how lovely it was. Even – yes, even – in the Bank Holiday rain. Please ignore the hair.

5 thoughts on “Castles and canvas

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