Don't Look Now

This week has brought my parents-in-law to Hotel H for their first visit of the year. Their stay coincides with a quick trip from Lily for more things wedding. Sunday morning arrives bright and clear, so Lily and I decide on a brisk walk to the beach before she heads off at lunch-time to catch her train. Seeing the sun, MiL and DiL decide to accompany us for as long they can manage and Tom says he can always pop back for the car if they have to give up.

The good news is MiL and DiL complete the full mile and a half walk down to the beach. The bad news is that it’s taken twice as long as usual, the sun’s gone in, rain’s threatening and it’s a humungously steep climb to get home. Lily and I decide to forge on ahead to get the car, but, having blasted our way back, discover that the spare key is not in its secret hiding place. Pretty soon the garden is like a scene from Time Team, but the spare key is nowhere to be found. Leaving Lily sheltering from the cold, I hoof back down the hill where Tom announces the spare key is in his pocket. MiL and DiL have now determined to do the entire walk under their own steam, so I powerwalk back to the house to reassure Lily that they’re both fine and to put the kettle on. By the time we sit down for a cup of tea, several of us feel as we’ve run a marathon in a rhino suit.

Finding a television programme to suit everyone can also be tiring. MiL is a gentle soul whose preferred viewing is Flog It (not as much fun as you might think, foreign readers) Antiques Roadshow and a good, old-fashioned costume drama. Unfortunately this week’s schedules are heavy on language, s*x, violence and other. Halfway through an entertaining documentary about Lucien Freud, MiL can bear it no longer. ‘What horrible paintings!’ she announces in alarm, ‘who would want those on their wall!’. The first few minutes of Homeland, a gritty new drama, sees some vigorous horizontal romping that has MiL seeking cover in the crossword, although DiL is quite pleased to escape the constant diet of ‘bonnet and bustle’ dramas that are his usual fare.

But very soon the week is over, another month has almost vanished and every time we say goodbye to our loved ones these days, we hold each other a little tighter. Blink and it’s gone. 

Painting is 'Winter Seascape Dusk' by Tom Tomos


Kath said…
I don't know about Hotel H, it sounds more like Boot Camp after having read this! MiL and FiL deserve medals.

TV viewing with visitors is a minefield. We were introduced to a whole range of new programmes by our homestay students last summer, the only one of which we still watch is Big Bang Theory. I am chuckling over the image of FiL being allowed to watch more racy fare than usual. Love it!
Jane Lovering said…
It all sounds very tiring, but it sounds like you survived with your sense of humour intact. And good on the In Laws for doing the walk!
Shirley Wells said…
It sounds exhausting. Glad the in laws managed the walk though.

Finding a TV programme to suit everyone is closer to impossible than tiring. What a pity Flog It isn't as much fun as it could be. :)
Lins' lleisio said…
Oh you have such a wonderful way with words and you made me laugh out loud about the TV issue (have been through that one myself). How true.. blink and it's gone, sobering thought.
Milla said…
that was great, Chris, love the idea of a foreign Flog It, might make the ghastly programme (sorry MIL) watchable. Have Homeland lined up to watch with the Teen. Luckily he doesn't really do embarrassment, and I can always hide any I find looming in my knitting!
oh dear, I have to try to see 2 impossible words now. I may be some time.
Pondside said…
I thought only our family had such ridiculous adventures with cars and keys. We are indeed on the similar trajectories with in-laws and weddings. I no longer watch TV is my MIL is in the house. Because she lives alone, she talks to the actors on screen and no one hears and we all feel mad. Love her - just can't watch TV with her!
Fennie said…
I am so glad that someone else doesn't like Lucien Freud's paintings. I am reassured. He always seems to be painting emperors without their clothes on.

Haven't you got some of those keys that come when you whistle? (Even better - and I am sure we shall have one before long - a car that comes when you whistle). That would have avoided the problem. Of course, if you can't wait you could always have a pony and trap. That would come when you whistled and I'm sure you'd all look grand. It would go with MiL's bonnets and bustles and make her feel properly at home in the past. Would work for the wedding too!

Oh dear - the words. Correctly diagnosed by Milla. Like a medieval manuscript. Written with a very blunt and inky quill, no doubt on board a pony cart, too.
Frances said…
Chris, you've yet again shown me what a fine writer you are.

This post does capture all the subtleties of having several generations under the same roof. Trying to respect the evolving differences, while being very aware of them.

Tom's picture is wonderful!

You are one very fit lady to manage all those vertical/diagonal key retrieval missions.


I could write much much more, but will leave all that more for another time. xo
Jenny Beattie said…
Your hard hosting work makes very entertaining reading for us though.

(It's the volume (not the content) of the TV that I can't bear...)
Henriette said…
Wonderful description of a week with the family. Made me long to see mine.
Sarah Tranter said…
What is it with men and keys? Bet it fuelled the momentum for the power walk home! Chuckling away at the idea of watching THAT kind of tele with parents/inlaws. You were v brave to stay in the room. Pleased you did or we'd have missed out on their entertaining reactions :) Great post!
Shopping for the wedding seems to be fun. I didn't get to shop for mine. It was a rush job and my MiL did it in advance.

Flog It sounds intriguing. Must check it out.
Flowerpot said…
Oh Chris I was laughing over that palaver with the car key - I've done exactly that more than once! As for TV viewing - yes that can be very tricky indeed.... you must be glad to have the place back to yourselves.
You have so much energy! I'm glad the spare key was found in the end.

I saw the Lucien Freud programme and can imagine your mother's horror. *giggles* My mother would probably have reacted in the same way.
Chris Stovell said…
Kath, I'm not sure MiL could be persuaded to watch something that called itself Big Bang Theory :)

Jane, yes, they were heroic... knackered but heroic.

Shirley, MiL wouldn't approve!

Lins, We always worry a bit when we say goodbye to any of the Aged Ps for all their foibles!

Milla, now watching with the Teens is another minefield. Hope you had your knitting handy to fling over the TV, especially this week!

Pondside - yet again we seem to be pedalling the same bike!
Chris Stovell said…
Fennie, I really like Lucien Freud... ok, I'm not sure I'd want any huge naked strangers flaunting their bits and pieces on my wall, but they're tremendous paintings.

Can't do anything about the pesky words - it's that or get inundated with spammers flaunting their bits and pieces (see above).

Frances, you are very kind, thank you.

Jenny - my ears are only just recovering! The TV volume is so loud it hurts!

Henri, it must be tough. We feel it ... although we nearly always have one branch of the family staying with us so we don't feel quite so far away from them all.

Hi Sarah, good to see you. There's a lot more I could say, but discretion is the better part of valour, eh!

Maria, now I want to know what you thought of the wedding dress. If MiL bought mine I would be in head-to-toe Per Una which, shall we just say, is SO not me.

Sue, I was foaming at the mouth at the keys! Could imagine MiL and Dil flaked out at the bottom of the hill or keys lost forever with all of us gagging for a cuppa!

Debs, the TV viewing did actually make for some hilarious (to me) moments. Poor MiL held it in for as long as she could before uttering her total dismay!
Chris Stovell said…
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