Sunday, 5 September 2010

Happy families

We walk the family trail on Lamma Island. That's the family trail. For families.

The family trail is straightforward. It's a walk along a concrete path, from one side of the island to the other. Journey it, and you pass the jungly trees and busy beach, before climbing the spines of the dragon mountains. Over the top, you're down into the green valley sloping to the shores, where you can stop at the seafood restaurant before catching the boat back home.

Walking on concrete paths through vegetation is something I do quite easily in England. But I do it badly in Hong Kong. Here, as I melt in heat and humidity, it becomes more an unseemly demonstration of red-faced sweating English stagger. It's all the more humiliating when being overtaken on the mountain stride by young, tanned, Italian dolce vita girls, swinging cute pink purses, Jimmy Choo shopping bags, and an athletic companion called Enrico.

I can only sigh, and know that those days of youthful mountain seeking are over for me. I'm not an independent woman about life, making her own decisions about her destinies. Not anymore. I'm a mutually supportive partner in a happy family. And since I have not suitor, tanned Italian skin, firm backside, nor a pair of Jimmy Choos, I can only cling, scrabbling, to what is left me: the happy family life. The sort of happy family life which can be yours indeed, for nothing, on the family trail of Lamma Island.

That's the family, by the way, who all split up even before we got out of the house. The family that took two hours to prise Tiger out of her bedroom and only succeeded with the lure of a pack of digestive biscuits and the promise of a green ice cream.

The same family, who, on exiting the house, hears one of their clan announce she is off in the other direction towards the Chinese pavilion past Fisherman's Village, where she is going to explore her new island autonomy and read her fairy trash in peace and quiet.

We'll just go on without you Squirrel! Dragging Tiger behind us, constantly moaning and groaning about leaves. No, don't you worry about us, just go off and enjoy yourself!

And then the happy family members all decide to seek separate routes, as far as possible away from each other up the dragon spine, probably because Grit is taking far too long, glowing and staggering, staggering and glowing, red faced under her Seahouses sunhat, huffing and puffing fit to bust.

What with the Tiger daughter now legging it up the hill to get the thing over and done with as quickly as possible, Dig cantering along behind her, Shark strung out between us all and Grit up the rear, you can bet by the top none of us were actually talking to each other, bound only in the mutual thinking that we would like to give the rest of the family a damn good kicking. When I am overtaken in the brilliant sunshine by the braless beauties plus the fortunate Enrico, and my sense of our happy family is complete.

Maybe we should really bond together and get a dog.


sharon said...

I so know where you are coming from - or at least I will do again in February/March next year when it gets hot and sticky as opposed to hot and dry over here ;-) At the moment it is still cold, dampish and rather dismal.

ladybirdcook said...

may I admit to a feeling of happiness and excitement due to reading an account of a family walk that is even worse than our attempts? Maybe our family functions a tiny bit after all ;-)

MadameSmokinGun said...

Walking is bad. Drive to places where you can sit. A place that has trees about, into or up which smaller people can disappear, while you sit. Don't ever take a husband. When they lose sight of any offspring they panic and insist you stand up and pace about shouting. The missing children know where you are if you just sit.

This is my theory for a good family day out.

And improves a hundredfold if you also have friends with children who also don't give a shit where they are. Then you have company and you can convince each other that all the kids are together and someone will come running if one of them breaks a leg or something. And an ice-cream vendor where you can send the reappearing midgets to all by themselves.

So - any news on the other Home Eddy people? Are they sit still types? Can you bear to spend time listening to them describing their children's eating habits? If so - sorted. No more family walks.

If not - you're buggered. Sorry.

Kestrel said...

Oh dear Grit, you're describing my first summer here :(

Katherine said...

Well, I just want to take this opportunity to remind you of a family project that went well. At least from where I'm sitting. And I'm sitting at my computer looking at my favourite jacket that is decorated with four (!) lovely felt flowers from you and your family.

Grit said...

cold! dismal! ok i can do without the damp. i am told that hong kongers are looking forward to winter. when they don't all need the air con.

ladybirdcook, we have our days when we look like a pack of knuckle dragging apes wearing sunhats. laughter is the only proper response.

mme sg! you are right! how i miss the parental groaning in the park, the kids lost in woods, the tales of public humiliation, appalling spelling and horror maths, the gallows humour, the worse-than-you solidarity of it all! ahh, to hear tell of some child's latest attempt to eat spaghetti through their nose. how i miss it all!

kestrel, let us do that together: march the kids through the bathroom, take them outdoors, bring them home, feed them juicy morsels, tuck them in the nest. simple and sometimes impossible, eh?!

you are right katherine! thank you! and no way does the lamma family walk compare to the butterfly disaster of 2006, or the day we never speak of: the great drive south on the M1 in 2007.

Rachel M. said...

We have almost identical weather to Hong Kong here in S. Florida, I don't take the kids outside during the day all summer long, I pretend it's our winter and brutal outside - which is true! It took more than a few years to get used to this weather.

Finally, this is one of your best writings!