About Time

Sit this side,’ says Tom, as I board the train. ‘Then you can look at the view.’

I have to admit that it hasn’t occurred to me to look out the window when I’ve got my Kindle and almost two hours reading time before I meet my elder daughter, known here as Lily, at Cardiff Central. As someone driven by the constant fear of time running out, I can’t even walk up and down stairs without thinking of something that might need to go with me.

But on this bitterly cold, clear morning, I’m so glad to have done as I’m told for once. From Carmarthen, the railway drops down to Ferryside and along the coast which is spectacularly lovely in the frosted fondant colours of the morning light. Clusters of oystercatchers are slapping along the shoreline, poking orange beaks into the exposed sandflats and a calm, glassy sea shimmers under a low-slung sun.

At Swansea, the train fills and the peace is shattered by a group of ladies eager to shop in Cardiff and happy to share their digestive complaints and problems with persistent wind with the rest of us. Nevertheless, their anticipation of their day out is infectious and I’m ready to shop too… though a little less jet-propelled. I’m spending two whole days with Lily who is marrying Russ in September, doing the kind of things mums and daughters do when there’s a wedding on the horizon. Both my daughters have demanding jobs, Lily with an independent employer’s organisation and Rose with a publisher of children’s books so our time together is limited and precious.

At one point, after a particularly emotional visit to one bridal shop, Lily and I retreat to a fabulously Boho café to recharge our batteries and I have one of those supremely happy moments. I’m sitting on a battered leather sofa with the sun on my back, a coffee and homemade flapjack to hand and one of my beautiful daughters beside me. It’s just a gentle reminder to savour the moment and be thankful.

Painting is 'O say can you see by the dawn's early light' by Tom Tomos.


Fennie said…
Beautiful, Chris, as always and the colours of the scenes you paint in words are every bit as vivid as Tom's pictures.
Debs Carr said…
Beautiful sentiment to go with a beautiful picture.
Preseli Mags said…
I love that train journey. I spent hours looking at the view from the train window shuffling to and fro journalism college in Cardiff many years ago. What a joyful journey to look at wedding things though. September's a great month to get married (and a bit of a tradition in this family!)
Friko said…
A lovely rambling post. I hope your days with your girls were good and satisfying, full of the sort of thing you look back on with pleasure.

Good luck with the second book. I am writing too but somehow I can always side track myself, particularly with blogging and writing articles for local papers which are nothing to do with my memoir. What I need is a time table; a time table I must stick to under pain of . . . . severe punishment. (Cat't think what punishment that could be.)
Frances said…
Chris, I so enjoyed going along with you on this day away.

Glad that you did see the magnificent views, were able to smile at the goings on of your fellow passengers, have those unique moments with your bride-to-be daughter.

What a day! May I also add how much I like the look of Tom's picture. Please do tell him how much I continue to enjoy a daily look at his picture that hangs on my wall.

Liz Hindman said…
It sounds just wonderful, how I envy you - especially having daughters with a wedding to look forward to. The mother of the bride is the second most important person so go ahead and dress to kill!
Flowerpot said…
Wonderful picture of Tom's and of your words too. So glad you had such a lovely precious time.
Milla said…
oh, Frances, *envy*! I'd love one of Tom's pictures. Meanwhile will make do (!! :))) with Chris's lovely words.
Liane Spicer said…
One day, I swear I'll treat myself to one of Tom's paintings. I love his work! And the description of the view too.

I treasure those times when I'm conscious of the beauty of a moment while I'm in it. I had one of those sitting on a bench on the campus in sunlight not too long ago. Cool breeze, green grass all around, mountains in the distance, sipping on a choc-mint chiller and thinking about - books! Bliss!
Pondside said…
Ah, Chris, we were in tandem, as Lillypad and I were in Seattle doing much the same. We stole three days from work and went shopping for all the things that are needed to go along with THE DRESS which was already purchased. It was a sweet time of sharing a hotel room and talking in the dark, remembering and making new memories.
and another on the wedding bandwagon here - except I will be the dragon of the piece as the groom's mother! :o)
That picture has to be my very favourite - keep 'em coming
Shirley Wells said…
What a wonderfully happy moment. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

I snorted with laughter at the Swansea ladies. :)
Inthemud said…
Hi Chris, I've been so busy that reading blogs has been very low on my priority, but glad to have found you again.
Very exciting to be able to be part of your daughter's preparations for her wedding.
I've not succumbed to a kindle yet, but if i travelled by train regularly I think I would
Chris Stovell said…
Fennie, Debs, thank you both.

Mags, It is a lovely route, isn't it? I'm delighted to hear that September's an auspicious month for weddings.

Hello Friko, nice to see you and thank you. It sounds as if you're busy with all sorts of writing projects to me. I find a deadline helps concentrates the mind on the finish line!! Good luck with your memoirs.

Thank you Frances, it was a lovely day. Thanks too for your kind words about Tom's work - he'll be pleased.

Liz, some of those so-called Mother of the Bride outfits look very scary - I don't want to be notice for the wrong reasons!
Chris Stovell said…
FP, thank you M'dear!

But Milla - you've got your father's astonishing and beautiful work to choose from! Still, it's kind of you to say such nice things about Tom's paintings, thank you.

Hi Liane, Tom should be very happy with all the compliments he's received this week. Thank you! Your blissful moment sounds wonderful; I can just imagine it from your description. It's still far too cold to sit outside here.

Pondside, it is curious to think we're doing the same thing all those miles apart from each other (and feeling the same sense of trepidation about those MoB outfits, it would appear from your blog!).

SBS, oh my goodness, another of us - though I don't see you as a dragon at all! Lucky girl to get you as her MiL! Are you faring any better than me or Pondside on the search for an outfit?

Shirley, thank you. You should have been on that train - it was hilarious! The Swansea ladies were very much looking forwards to their day out and determined to make the most of every minute of it... I've only reported a fraction of their conversation!

Helloooo Muddie, long time no see! As you can see, it seems that Pondside and SBS are also eagerly anticipating family weddings so it's quite the year for it. Mind you, the time's racing along!
elizabethm said…
So often those moments of supreme happiness are to do with spending time with our adult children. I don't mean that the fabric of my daily life is not happy because it is but time with my grown up children is precious because now it is rare and heightened, the way time with a lover used to be.

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