An envisioning. . ..An English beach in summer with the tide coming in and the sun rising to noon..

Oh to be here.

A summer afternoon in 1900 and the toy lady coming down the beach.

Torquay and Auntie’s house by the shore. Every cousin, even some never before met. Someone to swim with and someone else to play sardines. Another to help pester the grown ups on their tennis court and hide every ball that goes over the fence. One to play statues in the yard before supper and another to sit next to on the big sofa while Grandfather reads a story from long ago and far away.

Buckets for the beach and Mama to help dig. Matching new bathing suits for everyone. Same itchy wool but not the kind of thing that flaps in the water. Well, not the boy cousins with the short-legged suits like their summer underwear.

No, the skirts still flapping but with bloomers under. The boy suits better, but at least no stockings under like the nursemaid used to wear.

Pony rides from the man at the end with the babies in their baskets over the donkeys’ sides. All morning to play hide and seek around Auntie’s beach cabana until you get caught. Something about the biggest cousins having yanked the wrong ropes and made it fall in on Grandmother’s head while she was serving tea.

Nurse bringing down the hamper for picnics and the groom to take it back after. Sandwiches with the crusts cut off, fizzy lemonade, biscuits, and custard in the little white dishes from the bottom drawer in the pantry. Raspberry jam from last summer to spread over and thick cream to spoon over. Spoonfuls that are like summer in your mouth to remember all your life long.

Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain plays with her two youngest children on the beach. ca. 1916.
Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain plays with her two youngest children on the beach. ca. 1916. Photo in the public domain. Image via

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