All the world appears to mill around Gatwick. The stress is obvious, the security a necessity, the patience of everyone varied, the wait tedious.
It’s with great relief we settle into our seats on the plane knowing that, on our arrival in Split, we will be met by Mr V, the taxi driver, kindly arranged for us by the owners of the apartment where we will be staying in Okrug Gornji: https://www.homeaway.co.uk/p443630
We are met there by Bozena, the owner’s representative who, despite having to wait for us to arrive over an hour late, due to the delay of the flight (it is past eleven at night), greets us with a wide smile, picks up my suitcase and almost runs up the thirty-two stairs to our pent house apartment. A quick tour around, helpfully explaining the air conditioning, shutters and lights and off she goes. We go out onto the balcony and wonder at the vast expanse of lights reflecting on the sea below us.
The sun, pouring through the window, wakes me at 5.30am.
I pull up the shutters in the living area and go out onto the balcony. Below, the red roofs of the houses contrast with the stark white walls. The clumps of trees that intersperse them, soften the lines of the whole village.The sun lights up the sea, revealing the shifts, the currents, in the expanse of water. In the distance I can see the mainland and the various blue-grey hills of the islands around us with the stretches of dark trees and pale shingle-edged inlets. Too much beauty not to share. I wake my husband.
Our holiday begins with a stroll down through the narrow streets to the Mali Raj restaurant for a tasty and nutritious breakfast (this is a restaurant recommended many times in the apartments’ visitors book and we are to have most meals here throughout the week. None disappoint.)
Then a short stroll down to the harbour and a walk along the beach path. people smile, greet us, are friendly.
A lazy day that ends with a glass of wine and a glorious sunset.
On the second day we walk to Trogir; a walk along a busy road but with interesting sights to see; the buildings, the wild flowers, the gardens, the houses. It takes us thirty minutes and we’re glad to be walking on the long bridge over the water to the town to search out a refreshing drink in a cafe on the wide promenade.
Trogir is set within medieval walls.. The cobbled streets are fascinating; narrow, old buildings with Romanesque and Renaissance architecture including a magnificent cathedral and castle.
Since 1997 Trogir has had World Heritage status.
Later, before setting off on our walk back to Okrug Gornji, we sit and enjoy a local beer at a bar by the water and near the busy, fascinating market.
The next day we go on a route march to Dango
The photos speak for themselves
And we have a wonderful lunch at the Konoba Duga restaurant there.
At night the heavens open… we have a glorious storm that lasts until the following morning
The rain stops and we’re off walking again.
Over the next three days we explore the area in the daytime. At night we sit together on the swinging hammock on the balcony, reading and enjoying a glass (or two) of wine until the light goes
It’s our last night. We enjoy the final sunset of our holiday
‘I like your writing.’ he says.
We’ve known one another for almost fifty years, been married for forty-six. But he’s looking at me as though he’s never seen me before.
He’s just finished the last book of my trilogy, Living in the Shadows. He sits back and says it again. ‘I do, I like your writing.’
I want to ask why but I know he thinks he’s said enough. And it is. He’s read all three books over the last week. I’ve not known him do that before, he’s a man who barely sits still, who loves being outdoors, loves walking. But we’re on holiday and we’ve walked during the day. In the evenings we sit and read on the balcony of this lovely apartment.
I hadn’t realise he’d brought the books with him; they’re the ones I’ve used when I give talks and readings and the first, Pattern of Shadows, is, after five years, looking distinctly tatty. I’ve said nothing about it even though it’s been hard not to watch him while he’s read; tried to figure out his expressions.
Pondering on his words later I realize why I didn’t ask him why he liked the books. It’s enough he told me. There are times when we’ve been walking, or watching a programme on the television when he’s said,’you’ve gone again… you’re thinking.’ And he’s been right; I was writing in my head. And times when I have actually sat in front of the computer writing and before I’ve known it hours have passed. I’ve dragged myself away to make a meal, to see if he wants a coffee, to flick a duster around the rooms to salve my conscience. And I see him watching me as though puzzled.
The expression on his face makes me feel guilty sometimes. But not often. I wrote in secret for years. Sometimes for long stretches of time – but mostly – when life takes over ( work, moving houses, illness, the family, other commitments) – sporadically.
I’ve loved our life together. There have been many ups and downs, celebrations, disappointments, exciting times. There are not many things I would have changed – perhaps the petty arguments, the struggles in our early years when we fought to find our places in this thing we call our marriage. But those times passed and we made this ‘thing’ our own, learning from mistakes ( or making the same ones over and over again until they became a family joke/tradition/ something to be sighed over in resignation).
I know this man I met so many years ago. We were both hesitant in commitment, both lacking in confidence, both coming from parents whose marriages were acrimonious, where quarrels were never resolved.
I’ve seen him grow into the man he is and I know – I’ve always assumed – he knows me. We finish sentences for one another, I can be thinking, planning something we should do, and the next moment he says the words. We share the same sense of humour, laugh often. We make love – okay, not as often as thirty years ago but it’s not a bad record. (I’m hoping he never reads this post, by the way!). We hold hands when we walk, when we sit together. We know each other’s needs: a touch of empathy, comfort, sympathy, reassurance.We know one another better than we know anyone else in this world.
Yet, never before having read anything I’ve written, he’s now looking at me as though he’s just had the answer to a question that’s been hovering in his mind forever.
I like your writing ,’ he says again. He leans towards me and we kiss.
It’s enough. I know he understands why I need to write.
Pattern of Shadows: http://amzn.to/1OpM6TI
Changing Patterns: http://amzn.to/1PPmzki
Living in the Shadows: http://amzn.to/1PWBLiV
Pattern of Shadows: http://amzn.to/1QyPHN6
Changing Patterns: http://amzn.to/1JOTMxc
Living in the Shadows: http://amzn.to/1PGK108