It’s a Swallows and Amazons morning, with beautiful sailing boats moored at little buoys, and low headlands on either side. It’s warm enough to bathe at 7am without a shiver. I just swam around for a few minutes. We’re in a little bay at Lucice, a tiny settlement on Brac.
Leaving Kent yesterday it was cold… we’d had the log fire alight two nights running although this is August. Our friend Richard took us to the airport, and there was that horrible stretch where all the traffic slows down in a kind of ritual constipation which raises the anxiety levels. Someone had been sideswiped by a lorry. Their holiday suitcases were on the side of the road. We asked Richard for his opinion on our son’s plan to buy a flat in Brighton – I have deep worries that he’s going for something with absolutely no earning capacity, should things go tits up. Richard was adamant. Don’t buy it. We rang our son and had this rather depressing conversation – warning him off the flat he and his girl have chosen, and knowing all the while he’s a grown man and capable of making his own decisions. It’s just that we old folk have long memories – of interest rates at 15%, and job cuts on a massive scale. It’s all too likely to happen again. Richard was fortifying from one point of view, but the conversation we had as a result was lowering.
Gatwick Airport has set up a new streamlined safety check-in, faster, and somehow less stressful. I got through before Andrew, and while I waited, a man in an orange tabard asked if he could check me again… In fact, using a small gadget like a sponge on a small spatula, he wanted to test my mobile phone for explosives. Negative, thank goodness.
We bought a Kindle while we waited, charging it up at a normal socket, and managing to register it and even download a couple of items before going through the gate. Ha ha! I have been looking at my bookcases at home with a baleful eye, and lots of those old books can go now. Just the textbooks and special novels can stay. Oh, oh, I am grieving already for the bookshops. They must all become cafes, meeting places, just as public libraries must become branches of universities.
The couple sitting in front of us on the plane had a boy with them, 16 months old as it turned out, and definitely not happy. The screams became incessant, his sturdy little face transformed into a scarlet, blubbering, snotty, raging picture of dictatorship, a trainee Gaddafi. His whole body was arching backwards with his hatred of the place he had to be. His poor parents were struggling to contain and calm him, but it was useless. In the end I leaned forward and consoled his mother… ‘It’s OK, nothing you can do. Don’t worry…’ A while later she turned round and said thank you, it had helped. I became a granny for the flight, playing peep-bo with this infant, letting him throw his empty water bottle at the seat beside me, easing the tedium and anxiety for him. So I didn’t really get to play with the Kindle.
Getting off the plane was like walking into an oven – the air was HOT. Collecting the bag was almost instant, and crossing road outside the airport we saw our bus arriving within less than 30 seconds. The road winds along a field’s distance back from the shore, glimpsed tantalisingly at the end of little tracks leading down to our right between villas and apartment blocks, and small shops offering fast food or hairdressing, or auto services. The light is bright, everything looks quiet and prosperous, and the young people getting onto and off the bus are all tall and handsome. Ten stops down the road, and we’re at the marina… There are Kate and Andy waiting for us, and we lug our squashy bags along and onto the boat.
I get nervous walking along that narrow gangplank… silly but difficult to overcome. I know I can walk it, I know it’s just one foot in front of another, but I’m glad of a hand from the others. Everything aboard is sparkling and tidy. I sit in a kind of daze, while the men get the engine going and Kate does boatswainly things, and we motor quietly out of the marina. The light is fantastic. The whole of the bay is calm, with a huge blue sky above us and the city of Split – with its football stadium, iron works, tiny castles, cliffs and ferries – snuggled in between the mountains and the water. We make out into the water and then the sail goes up and we are on a broad reach out towards the islands.
At Lucice, pronounced Loo-chee-chuh, we went ashore in a tiny inflatable tender. Last time I was here, the process of getting into this boat was absolutely terrifying to me but this time, for some reason, I felt ok about it, taking each move steadily. It feels like some kind of vertigo, which is mad. I do not feel frightened looking down from clifftops, but for some reason, being over water scares me. Why this is so, I do not know… I can swim perfectly well and the worst that could happen would be that I get wet. Still, this time, my transfer into the dinghy went well. The resto looked lovely, but in the event the platter of fish proffered for us to choose from was eye-wateringly expensive - £100 for an unknown fish – so we settled for some starters . Anchovies, octopus chopped up with tomatoes, and a dish of mussels and clams in white wine. A flagon of the darkest red wine to drink (their own grapes) added both a relaxation and a link to ancient times. People must have sat and fished and fought and farmed and made wine here for millennia. And we, staying in our sleek white yacht were floating over this deep history, bobbing about on the surface. Miraculously, I hope, I shall be able to post this up now, in a twinkling, just as fast as the Kindle pulls whole novels out of the sky and down into its archives. What a funny old world. Where do we live? Where do we go? How do we get there? Enough! Breakfast is calling.