‘Come and see this,’ says Tom.
It’s too cold to stand outside so we’re standing in the dark by the radiator, looking through the open window. Jupiter is pinned against a sapphire blue sky above the black shadows of the Preseli and a shred of grey cloud drops away to reveal the pale gold of a crescent moon.
‘Any minute now.’
And then it happens. Venus emerges, dazzling as a diamond, from behind the moon and it’s breathtaking to watch. No one’s about, except for us, and I feel extraordinarily privileged to have witnessed this astronomical delight. It’s a dramatic and beautiful start to the last month of the year.
Tom and I have been to some strange places at odd times to look up at the sky. Next year it will be ten years since we sailed with Lily and Rose across to France in our old wooden boat, Veryan, to watch the total eclipse. Cherbourg harbour wasn’t exactly an intimate setting but the effect on the crowd was just as dramatic when the sun disappeared. Looking back, I can’t believe how intrepid we were. Oh, I know plenty of sailors cross the Channel every day without mishap but when I think about the four of us in our small, slow Veryan, dodging through the shipping lanes I feel quite ill. Mind you, I was quite ill for most of it. Lily spent the entire voyage back tending to the sick (me and Rose) and making tea and sandwiches for Tom at the helm. It was a brilliant sunny morning when we finally tied up at Beaulieu. Tom opened a beer which, because we’d landed and I felt better instantly, seemed like a good idea to me and when Lily, who was just fifteen at the time demanded one too, we didn’t say anything but just handed one over!
I’ve always felt utterly thrilled by my daughters and feel so fortunate to have them. After the sadness of Auntie Joanie’s funeral last week it was a huge delight to have the girls and their boyfriends with us at the weekend. We’ve had cold, crisp sunny days for walks by the coast and dark evenings for catching up over leisurely meals. Thanks all of you, it was a real treat.
Painting is 'Snowstorm - noon' by Tom Tomos