Swimming In The Rain
How can I describe that summer? The word “Perfect” seems appropriate.
I was thirteen and on holiday with my parents in a beat up old caravan owned by my Dads sister. Aunt Sheila.
Mum and Dad were going through a “bad patch”. A term used a lot in our family. I remember when I was seven staying with Nan and Granddad till things were “patched”. And after two weeks they came to pick me up and I heard Mum saying “It’s okay, everything is patched up now.”
I never liked the word “patch”. I associated it with bad things.
The Isle Of Sheppey sounded mysterious. I told my mates at school that I was spending the summer holidays on an Island in the middle of the Ocean. Only certain parts of that statement were true.
Sheppey was where the North Sea collided with the English Channel and Leysdown-On-Sea was where the water was bitter cold and dark brown in colour. But it was the sea, and sea needed to be swam in.
I swam in it every day. My teeth chattered and my body shivered but I had to go in. My swimming trunks were handed down from a cousin who’d outgrown them but were still too big for me and I spent most of my time trying to keep them up. I swam with one hand while the other held onto the trunks. I swam in circles.
One week was all we could afford. We didn’t have to pay for the Caravan of course but there were still expenses. Petrol there and back, a few drinks in the club house in the evenings and fish and chips for tea every night. And Dad gave me fifty pence every day for pocket money.
I went out at ten o’clock in the morning and came back in time for tea at six. I walked for miles during the day and tried to explore as much of the “Island” as I could. I found small bays where I caught crabs on a hand line and tried to sell them to the local shops for just a few pence. One day an old man bought seven and gave me his loose change. It was over one pound. I felt like a millionaire.
I swam in the shallows and dived for Oysters hoping to find Pearls. I found Cockles and Clams and even a small Dogfish, but no Oysters. It didn’t matter I was on holiday and that was good enough so I threw everything back into the murky water.
On the last day I was swimming far out. I was about fifty yards from the beach near our Caravan Park, I started to swim to shore. I saw two figures on the beach. It was Mum and Dad. I stopped and trod water. I saw them kiss and then embrace. It started to rain.
As I said. That summer was just perfect.