Looking Up

‘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


Elizabethd said…
Daughters are very special, I have two but one is an equally special step daughter. I'm lucky too.
What a brave sailing trip!
JJ said…
We had a smiley face: the moon was the smile and Venus and Jupiter the eyes. It was beautiful and my pictures were dreadful.

I cannot believe that the two daughters in my book BOTH have the same names as your daughters! Oh dear. I shall have to change Lily's but I cannot change Rose's ...
Faith said…
Love the painting at the top of your blog this time, and your word description of the planets.
Flowerpot said…
I heard about the eclipse but didnt see it - sounds incredible. And so glad you had your girls with you to comfort and cheer you after your bad news.
Debs said…
What a beautiful sight. I love looking up at the moon, venus and Jupiter. I keep on to R that we need to put a large window at the end of the house (in our room) so that I can watch the moon whilst in bed, but he insists we can't afford it, which is true, so I'll just have to keep nipping outside when the mood takes me.

Your daughters do sound lovely.
elizabethm said…
I don't believe it - you get seasick too! I can feel Ian plotting a sailing summer holiday and I am torn between wanting to go and knowing that there will be at least a day when I am sick as a dog.
I have a lovely daughter and lovely step daughter too, but sons are also pretty special. Mine is equally but differently lovely!
lampworkbeader said…
It was too cloudy here to see venus or the moon. I particularly like the painting you've chosen this time.
Fennie said…
Oh Chris you describe it so well - Venus emerging, dazzling as a diamond!. But you are welcome dear to your boats. I don't even much care for car ferries, but small boats - I mean - why????
LittleBrownDog said…
You lucky things! It was all cloudy here, so we missed the 'happening'. I remember the eclipse, too. My Boy was just a baby, and we went out and stood on the hill opposite our house with funny glasses on, but we didn't really see anything much. Remember too crossing the channel in a small boat and nearly coming a cropper in one of the shipping lanes.
We were on our way back from Builth Wells - all of us sardined into the truck when we say the moon and star show - we stopped - it was just one of 'those' moments.
Glad you had 'a deep cushion' of a weekend - about time. Now back to that TMA for Jan....>>>>>>>>>>
mountainear said…
One of the blessings of living where we do are the fantastic clear night skies. Alan came in and announced the Venues/Jupiter/moon collection but when we went out cloud had drifted over and there was not a star in sight. Another time perhaps.

No daughter here, but time with each and all of our 3 sons is so precious.
I am so glad I read your blog Chris. I did see it, and it was amazing.It was soo pretty. Had no idea what it was. Got a new camera and the battery was low. By the time it was charged, the clouds had covered everything. Was so disappointed. I was able to pop batteries into my old camera and frustrated I can't do this with the new one.
Pipany said…
Such a lovely blog Chris. I too feel fortunate in my children though sometimes need to hang on to that when they are being difficult which is thankfully rare! Thank you for your lovely comments on my blog and hope you have a great week with more wonderful things to look at! xx
Hi Chris,

What a lovely post, I loved your descriptive words of the 'eclipse', dazzling like diamonds.

How wonderful to have sailed over to France in your Boat, unfortunately I am not so brave and always get sea sick.

Have a lovely weekend, and Happy Sailing.!!

Lane said…
I missed it too and after reading your description, I'm missing it even more.

Daughters are great. Little stars in fact. (Most of the time:-)
Milla said…
no daughters here, and a little too early for daughters in law which will possibly be a different story (although I got on well with my MIL who sadly died 14 years ago). Nice to hear you sounding more chipper, Chris. V exciting about the planets. Am sure I sort of wouldn't notice and would think they were planes or something.
Milla said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Un Peu Loufoque said…
Know that harbour well and beaulieu too both excellant palces for a relaxed drink...especailly after a vomit inducing sail!!
Pat Posner said…
Lovely description, Chris, and so glad your girls were with you at weekend to help through a sad time.

Zinnia Cyclamen said…
So glad you've had some good times.
ChrisH said…
Elizabethd, how nice for your stepdaughter that she is so special to you as well.
JJ - I saw the smiley face in the BBC website and go ahead and name your characters, 'Lily' and 'Rose' won't object!
Faith - thank you :)
Flowerpot - yes, perfect antidote to sad times.
Debs, that window won't be a problem when you get your mega book deal!
Elizabethm - twins separated at birth again! I'm lucky to have to stepsons but wouldn't have known what to do if I'd had a boy!!
Lampie - thanks for the painting comment, I'll pass it on.
Fennie, aw shucks! As for the boat... sigh!
LBD, yes the funny glasses! I watched it in a reflection in the harbour! So, you too know the horror of the shipping lanes!
SBS, okay class swot! I'm trying, I'm trying!
Mountaineer, sorry you missed it, especialy frustrating when you're so well-placed. Come from a family where girls feature heavily so would have been a bit phased to have a boy - but I take your word for it!
Tiggywinkle - I've just got a camera for the first time in years so that will be me!
Camilla - I am definitely not brave!!
Lane... yes, know what you mean about MOST of the time! We've had our moments!
Pipany - given the numbers the 'moments' probably happen on a more regular basis but you never show it!
Milla, you get the same buzz from your boys - it comes across. Not to sure whether Lolly always basks in the maternal glow!
UPL, always well-travelled, come on, write the autobiography!
Pat, thanks, the girls helped enormously.
Zinnia, yes, it goes round and comes round, doesn't it?

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