Sun, sand and Sauvignon Blanc; a eulogy

Last summer, I took my little family for a beach holiday. Low-key and relatively local, we spent a week eating sandwiches by the sea, stripping the girls down so they could frolic in shallows warmed by a day of sun, seeing friends, touring local wildlife parks and driving through scenery for hours while Little Girl napped in her seat. In the afternoons we’d head to the fishmonger and buy whatever had come in fresh from the boats that day before heading back to our holiday cottage for dinner. No television, no internet connection, it was as wholesome as slow-made porridge and as sweet as its brown sugar crust.

Once the girls had been sluiced of the day’s sand and put to bed, LH and I would share a bottle of wine, chat, and read a book (or, in his case, laboriously read the sports pages on the text-only browser of his extremely old phone).

And I’d sit there, trying to ignore the fact that all I wanted was more wine.

We’d brought with us the remains of a wine cask ‘for cooking’, which I drained on the first evening while he showered. On the second day we went to a winery and I bought four bottles; by day three there were two left, not three, because I stayed up after LH was in bed and drank an extra one by myself. On the third day, I supplemented the allotted half bottle with a glass or two from an open bottle left in the fridge by previous tenants, leaving barely an inch in the bottom. By day five, I claimed that the fish dish I had planned needed a certain variety of sauvignon blanc to do it justice, and headed to the bottle shop to restock.

That holiday, I thought about wine. As the sun finally dipped low enough to take my girls for an evening swim, I packed picnics and wondered whether I could manufacture a reason to drive into the town after their bedtime and buy a bottle without LH knowing. At the pub we ended up lunching at mid-week, I finished my wine before the bread came out, and spent more time wondering if I could buy another one than listening to my family’s chatter. At night I deliberately didn’t see LH’s overtures towards bed, preferring to let him sleep so I could finally drink in private.

It was something special, that week. It was Little Girl’s first real experience with the beach, and her grin, as she waded completely nude in the deserted waves, rivalled the setting sun for light and beauty. No television meant Enid Blyton evenings of reading and colouring, and with no agenda except relaxation, our days were easy and unstressed. The perfect week for reconnecting as a family and strengthening our bonds.

Except that I wasn’t really there.


15 thoughts on “Sun, sand and Sauvignon Blanc; a eulogy

  1. This reads as such a sad story. Thanks for writing it. I’m struggling a bit these days trying to get a grip on whatever my problem was and is, but the up close description of time overtaken by wanting wine is a powerful reminder how how I spent too many evenings. I think you’re a great writer, and it’s a pleasure to read what you’re thinking. xo

  2. It is crazy how much time, both mental and physical went into our drinking. The plotting, planning, sneaking and lying. Life is far more simple now. My brain has time for other things.
    Great post.

  3. Beautiful but I think perhaps you are being too hard on yourself. You were there and those memories are no less bonding or lovely for your drinking. It’s just that you can be *more* there without that distraction during future lovely holidays.

  4. I agree with Lilly that you were no less there on the outside you just felt less there on the inside. Beautiful post and it touched a nerve here too.

    • I wanted to go back there this summer (it’s coming into winter here, so I’m talking about December/January), but we’ve just been shanghaied into TWO WEEKS with the in-laws instead, and we can’t afford two holidays, so not for ages, sadly.

  5. I really connect with this. With two small kids and a traveling husband, life is hard! Thanks so much for your honesty.

  6. Hello, I’m still working on reading all you posts. This one made a large knot in my throat .. and I will shred tears later.
    If I can share… There are 2 earthly reasons in my life… My very dear best friend / husband of 26 yrs and a wonderful young 24 y/o man (aka) my son. A few months ago we all managed to take a vacation together. Our favorite …camping for a week on a beautiful Arkansa river.
    I, too, was there sort of. DH and DS had loads of fun.. I was there sort of.
    Son has gone back to his home and work. We don’t get to see him much and I have missed a rare time with a favorite person. Actually, I let an addiction make me miss this and I am just sick about it. I really hadn’t let it come to the surface until I read this post. Thank you … I really need to face this beast. vlm ~..~

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