You may ask the old question “Why is this so?”
To illustrate the importance of these two marvellous months, I need to provide some background history.
My parents married young and produced four children, but we were spread out over nearly twenty years. The first two were born each side of the war and the Comley family was complete. However, I appeared as a welcome surprise nine years later and my sister, Jan, arrived four years after my debut.
Despite these age gaps, all four of us shared a very close bond with each other and our parents. But we basically lived the various stages of our youth as single children due to the differences in age.
My younger sister Jan was only thirteen when I left the farm to work in Melbourne where my boyfriend lived with his family.
Just a year later, Jan was bridesmaid at our wedding, and I embarked on a new, grown up, phase of life.
Jan went to America for twelve months as an Exchange Student, followed by a couple of years in Canberra at University. Next for her was 12 months teaching in Finland.
Consequently, we did not see each other a great deal during our young adult years.
Time rolled by, with a constant exchange of letters and phone calls, but not a lot of visits. Jan moved between Sydney, Adelaide and Perth and I worked in Melbourne.
Sadly, my marriage ended. I began travelling overseas often, still with regular letters and postcards flowing between us.
I married a man from Switzerland and Jan married as well. Children arrived, two for me and four for Jan. Well, that kept us busy for the next twenty to thirty years. When we did catch up, it was always a busy family occasion with many People.
Jan retired in Perth, and I moved to Benalla.
Now to more recent times. My son Toby and his wife relocated to the UK for work in 2017. They built a small granny flat at the beginning of this year for Aussie visitors. Toby kept urging me to go over to try out the new accommodation.
Suddenly, an exhilarating idea occurred to me and my two darlings in England agreed. I phoned my sister Jan and announced, “You and I are going on holiday to England!”
The next few weeks were a frenzy of planning the trip. We were bursting with excitement, anticipating our great adventure together.
We flew from Perth on a direct flight to Heathrow with permanent grins plastered on our faces.
Our little garden chalet was a very comfortable base, and our excursions began immediately. We were not going to waste a moment of our precious time together. Toby very generously lent us a car for the whole seven weeks. Not the Aston Martin though, as neither Jan nor I are built for slinky sports cars these days!
We traversed narrow winding lanes and motorways, all over the south of England. The Cotswolds, Norfolk, Oxford, Henley on Thames, Somerset, Kent, Windsor, Bath, Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex, Surrey, Suffolk, Gloucestershire. Me driving (a manual car for the first time in thirty years) and Jan doing an excellent job of navigating.
Although we had an idea of where we wanted to go, we frequently deviated from the route, at whim. We often had overnight unplanned stays in quaint old pubs and cute cottages.
King Charles’ Coronation was an event not to be missed, so we stayed in the West End of London for four nights to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy this spectacle. Glorious scenery, pebbly beaches, hedge lined lanes, masses of spring flowers and lambs at every turn. Small villages both touristy and sleepy ones, craft shops, thatched cottages, castles, historic sites, National Trust mansions, awe inspiring immense Cathedrals and humble old churches surrounded by ancient graves. Harrods, double decker buses, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, statues, botanical gardens, cottage gardens, long boats on canals, coloured doors, ancient doors with low lintels. Deer roaming in the woods, pheasants running across the roads, cats to be counted, craft shops, walking, wandering exploring, sitting and admiring.
Underpinning these daily excursions was always our joint quest for the most perfect tea room in England! We were both untiring, dedicated and assiduous in this serious pursuit.
Throughout the amazing experience, the most precious aspect for us was sharing all these experiences just with each other. Making up for all the years we had been apart.
As we were nearing the end of our holiday, my sister remarked, “Do you realize that we have spent 24 hours a day together for seven weeks and we have not had one cross word or run out of things to talk about?”
It was the happiest uninterrupted period of time in my life, I think.
We agreed that we have never talked and laughed and sung aloud as much as we did then.
It was a totally carefree, pleasurable, joyous, hilarious couple of months with my best friend, Jan, that will uplift me for the rest of my years.