We left my in-laws’ house in the brightest sunshine. The drums of the apprentice boys could be heard in the distance as they practised for some march or other.
Crawford had been enjoying a quiet cigarette and some sporting commentary on the radio in his jeep as we packed the car – winding down his window on occasion to offer packing tips and comment on our tyre pressure.
‘The natives are restless’ he observed, dramatically cupping his ear and wincing as he descended to the gravel.
‘Yes, we know’ replied Maude ‘that’s why we thought we’d take the children to the caravan for a few days.’
The girls love being at their grandparents’ house and their grandparents enjoy the contact, but older people also like to have their space back fairly promptly.
Crawford had begun to spend long stretches of time ensconced in his jeep. Augusta too had sought sanctuary – locking herself in the summer house. As we left she was even wearing her large headphones. This gave her the look of a 'Mr and Mrs' contestant waiting to be tested on just how well she knew her partner of 42 years.
Maude and I agreed that the time was right to take advantage of the offer of a loaned caravan on the pleasantly named ‘Juniper Hill’ site in Portstewart – just next to the field reserved for drive-in gospel sessions.
Shortly after we located the correct caravan and installed the children, the rain that was to last the entire duration of our stay began. Drizzle turned to heavy rain and it beat a steady rhythm on the roof of the caravan which insisted it was heard over the sound of children’s television.
‘Is that the drummer boys again, Daddy?’
‘No darling, unfortunately, it isn’t.’