Her family were there in body, but not in spirit. Audrey had an idea to get some wind back into their sails
Sunshine flooded through the large bay window into the sitting room as Audrey drew back the heavy, velvet curtains.
Sea and sky met in dazzling shades of blue on the horizon. It was going to be a glorious day.
“We could have a late breakfast in the garden,” Audrey suggested, glancing cheerfully round the room.
Izzi, her youngest granddaughter, looked up with a bright smile but her two elder brothers just grunted in response.
Jake was sprawled on the floor, eyes glued to a game on his mobile. Alex lounged on the sofa, a leg draped over the arm, clearly lost in the music on his headphones.
“Honestly!” Audrey exclaimed. “You’re all still in your pyjamas in the dark. You must be getting hungry by now?”
She shooed them upstairs to get dressed and disappeared into the kitchen.
Where was her daughter, Audrey wondered? She could hear Jenny’s voice echoing down the hall and it definitely sounded harassed.
No doubt she was busy juggling the problems of her London business on the phone again, even though she was meant to be having a break.
Audrey shook her head in exasperation. Parting her family visitors from their gadgets for long enough to enjoy her beautiful seaside town was a challenge she was failing at.
She would have to up her game and persuade them all to come out.
Audrey hummed to herself as she carried the breakfast tray into the garden and fetched the cushions for the rattan chairs.
She was proud of the new set she had bought in the sale at the end of last summer. Garden furniture seemed to be in short supply this year – selling out like hotcakes, the newspapers said.
Soon even Jenny was sitting in the sunshine, her pale, slim fingers wrapped round a mug of coffee.
It made a change from her mobile, Audrey thought ruefully. She watched her grandchildren tuck into their freshly baked croissants with pleasure and decided to seize the moment.
“It’s the regatta this afternoon,” she announced, pushing a colourful leaflet towards them. “There are all sorts of competitions: pavement drawing, fancy dress, raft-building, paddle-boarding. I think you’d enjoy it.”
Alex and Jake’s ears pricked up at the mention of water-sports and Audrey knew her little granddaughter loved painting.
“What do you think?” Audrey directed the question to her daughter, who was already glancing surreptitiously at the time on her phone.
“You take them if you like, Mum,” Jenny murmured, scrolling through her messages. “I’ll join you later if I can.”
The anxious frown was back, Audrey noted, so she decided to leave it at that.
Izzi was in her element when the drawing competition began.
There were numbered circles on the seafront pavements for the younger children to design their pictures in, with a supply of chalks on hand.
It was like a scene from Mary Poppins.
Izzi’s earnest expression reminded Audrey so much of Jenny’s when she was little.
Her granddaughter concentrated hard as she sketched out her underwater scene. Soon her circle was full of starfish and sea horses, fronds of green and bright shells.
It was a worthy winner and Izzi beamed when the judges awarded her second place.
“Can we go to the toy shop later?” Izzi demanded happily. She skipped along beside her grandmother, waving the prize voucher in her hand.
“Of course we can,” Audrey smiled. “We’ll just see what the boys are up to in the raft contest first.”
Jake and Alex were busy manoeuvring their surfboard-shaped raft down the slipway.
Surfers against plastic! their banner shouted in bold letters on one of Audrey’s old sheets. It certainly made a striking sail.
Audrey felt proud of all the litter the boys had collected from the beach that morning and displayed in nets to make their point.
“Hope it floats!” Izzi called cheerfully after her brothers, as they braved the waves in their wetsuits.
It was not easy to get through the breakers on the steep, pebbled beach.
Jenny arrived just in time to see her boys shrieking with laughter as the hastily assembled rafts began to sink.
Jake and Alex emerged wearing huge grins, hair plastered to their foreheads.
They were happy to pose for photographs with the remnants of their boat.
“Thanks, Mum!” Jenny squeezed Audrey’s arm with affection. “Let me treat you to an ice-cream,” she added.
Audrey never took much persuading on that score.
They sat together on deckchairs, enjoying their cones, while Izzi and the boys played on their paddleboards.
Bright sails billowed out on the horizon as the regatta got underway.
Jenny looked relaxed at last. Her long hair streamed out in the breeze and all her frown lines had gone.
Audrey smiled. Now that was a prize worth having.
Our My Weekly Favourites series of lovely short fiction from our archives continues on Mondays and Thursdays. Look out for the next one.
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