I’ve just got back from a few days away in a friend’s house in a seaside town. No phone. No internet (slight case of delerium tremens). No Wonder Dog. No feral birds to keep away from the beseiged cockatiel.

My friend and her husband have a lovely house in the little town, from which they base all their nautical forays. They have a boat (he drives it so it stayed in the shed), so they do a lot of fishing out in the ocean. She says they usually eat fresh fish, crabs and squid when they stay there. She also likes to beach-comb for shells, dead sponges and such, which she puts in her garden or on canvas as art. Although there’s no sea view, they only have to ‘pop’ around the corner to see it. What a shame I don’t ‘just pop around’ anywhere.

No Rex, so no getting up in the night to take him to the loo; that was the plan. Turns out he’s trained me! I woke up anyway; twice every night. Dagnab it! The Old Boy says that while I was away, he couldn’t be bothered getting up for the dog during the night and decided to take his chances. Not one accident. Not one! I’m glad the mutt has finally conquered the night but somehow I can’t help feeling a tad annoyed. Now I have to retrain myself!

We dined twice at the local hostelry: beautiful food; gorgeous view of the bay. Only, the first time was at night so we couldn’t see anything and the next morning my friend found that the local cormorants were nesting in the pine tree above her car. It seems the birds have very poor sphincter control. Errrggg. The next time, we dined during the day when the birds were out at sea. The other nights we cooked at home. When it was my turn I did roast veggies with a chicken cordon bleu. It was more fun eating it than it was cooking. I’d brought a big pot of pumpkin soup with me, so that was lunch sorted. The last day, having had a large meal at the hotel for lunch, in the evening we just had a vanilla slice and a glass of white. Heaven!

I took my little notebook/lap-top machine with the intention of doing lots of writing while my friend painted and potted around her veggie patch. (Yes, they have a veggie patch at their seaside “shack”. Begs the question, just how often do they go there?) Turns out she thinks two hours a day is plenty for that sort of thing. When the two hours were up, the hands were clapped, time was called and I was taken out beach-combing. I found a couple of pretty fan shells for the grandchildren, spooked a pelican and spent most of the time thinking about the book. However, it was good to breath in the sea air, to stare out at sky and sea instead of words on a screen and generally not do much at all.

Back home to 129 emails, more work lining up, someone else to send my teen fantasy to, my new book to continue, manuscripts to edit, father-in-law’s 87th birthday to attend, and another round of blood tests and jab in the gut. It won’t take too long at all for 4 sea-side town days away to fade into a pleasant, distant memory, but I’m grateful for the hiatus it provided. What is more, the dog can sort himself out from now on. He can’t fool me any longer. (And if there’s a puddle in the am, the Old Boy can clean it up.)