18th July 2018 and scheduled to be en route to Exeter for my daughter Tara's graduation, I see that cousin-in-law Laurence was due to be walking the path just east of Exeter. What a great opportunity to join him and lend my support to this most worthy cause. With some finely tuned synchronisation of watches, trains and a very helpful local cab driver, we arrive separately but within minutes of each other at The Anchor Inn in the seaside town of Sidmouth - where we were among the more youthful end of its inhabitants (honestly!).
Melitta’s mother Maura and my mother were sisters and as children we saw a fair amount of each other (despite living in London and Epsom respectively) so I have many fun and fond memories of times spent spent all together. As adults our lives were separated geographically, and Laurence and I worked out that it must be between 15 - 20 years since we last met. A lot to catch up on! We chatted, walked and shared each other’s lives and stories while breathing the Devon sea air along a lovely stretch of the Jurassic coast from Sidmouth to Otterton. A truly lovely, fun and interesting afternoon.
The coastline there is in parts dramatic with freestanding rock structures formed from the land through centuries of erosion, marred only by a large caravan site which was rubbing boundaries with a village of old thatched cottages. As Laurence observed, not quite the landscape that Thomas Hardy would ever have envisaged! Of course he would also not have envisaged the essential IPhone synchronisation, maps, instant messaging and air dropping of photos that were part of making the afternoon both possible and memorable!
And so I am now back on the train from Exeter to London with my elder daughter Lottie, having seen my younger daughter Tara graduate and having had a very special few days sharing memories and creating new ones.
As Laurence and I said goodbye he was going on up to Manchester to see Georgie graduate before recommencing his marathon walk. My congratulations to Georgie, and love and luck to you all. I hope we catch up again before another 15 - 20 years pass!