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On the island (vii)

Today is our last day out here on the island. The girls don’t want to go back but I am ready to leave now. It’s been really nice and I want to come back to Croatia but this is probably the last time we will go to a family hotel. The older girls are more self sustained now and Nadia adopts their ways by default. There are a lot of babies and worn parents around. I like being a parent but I don’t really like the ‘parent’ look. Now that our kids are reaching the twenties it will be nice to go into another zone without screaming babies and bits floating around the pool (I swam in the sea exclusively to avoid that). I swam with the three girls out as far as the buoy today which took it out of Luna and Nadia. Daisy had no trouble though, she is an all weather swimmer. She reminds me the most of my younger self. 

I am really positive about the Croatians we met though. They are a more optimistic type of Slav, like the Polish but without all the ennui. There is lot more to see in Croatia and I really like the language. We just got a small taste of the country this time, it would be great to explore more so maybe bringing our own car the next time would be the key.

I am glad that my brain has recovered and I have had a chance to study some Japanese and read all of my German magazines. It scares me when my brain refuses to engage. It’s good to be committed to work but it can’t eat up your essence or you end up living to work rather than working to live. This holiday came at the right time.

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On the island (vi)

Sometimes I find myself thinking in book titles or album covers. Today with the sunlight shining through the surface of the clear blue water it was in utero that came in to my mind. Down underneath there is no age, there are only thoughts suspended and dislocated from any roots.  

There are lots of multigenerational families here which makes me think about where we are from or not from as the case may be. It might not be coincidental that the girls have made friends with the kids of expatriate Croats who are used to mixing languages and everybody being a bit of a foreigner. We hesitate to call ourselves a Dutch family since Dutch people would automatically class us as foreigners. Whenever we meet Dutch people abroad they are always somewhat suspicious of these people who speak their language with accents with children who are no different to their’s but who defy the easy categories employed to classify Nederlanders or Nieuwe Nederlanders or allochtonen or whatever the term du jour may be. If the truth be told meeting Irish or Polish people creates it’s own difficulties because the multinational Europe that we were told would evolve is still in its embryonic stage. Most people want the filter of nationality and deviating from that makes you an awkward exception.

The girls had the chance last night to perform in a dance show last night with the animation team. They did some gymnastic moves together and then Luna performed a ball routine. Some of the team are amazing dancers and have been professionally trained. It was a pleasure to see their show and it was great that our gym stars could do their part. 

I finished the brilliant McEwan novel so now I will try to get into another one. I have three novels on the go now and I should close them out but on holiday I am minded to read inspiring works. I don’t have the heart for a struggle.

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On the island (v)

I like the small iconic memories of a holiday. You can rarely predict where they will come from but it’s nice when you find a place that feels just right and symbolizes an appropriate sense of that languid holiday daze. Today we dropped the kids off at the club, drove to the supermarket and then relaxed over coffee at the same cafe as before, served by the same waitress with her cute Croatian only on this Groundhog Day our language skills are that bit better. In a million iterations time we will be a Croatian couple on our summer vacation away from the hectic pace of Zagreb or Split. For now we are fellow Slavs (well, one faux Slav and one pure blood).

Last night’s bar entertainment was a Croatian boy/girl duo who sang local numbers passably followed by some American songbook standards. I told the girls they were famous just to add a bit of excitement. Luna did a mini gymnastics show and got herself a two year old super fan. Tonight she will do a proper solo show and a flexibility display with Nadia and Daisy. One of the animation team is a former rhythmic gymnast so she was really happy to meet Luna. It’s an amazing thing that you have this global RG religion and wherever you have devotees you have this passionate community. 

I had to switch to another book since I was struggling so much with “Us”. “The Children Act” by Ian McEwan is much more satisfying so I am zooming through that as well as getting lots of swims in. It feels like a holiday now and I definitely think that I will be coming back to Croatia since it is very much like a sunny home abroad.

On the island (iv)

It’s a good sign I suppose that I have moved into the anaesthesized mode that you get when you are being fed and the most difficult question you need to answer is ‘beach or swimming pool?”. I haven’t really thought about work which is some feat considering hoe frazzled I was ahead of my vacation. Today I managed to get back to reading Japanese so my brain cells are back to normal.
We hung out on the nicest beach today at Čikat. The prices are generally reasonable here -two sun beds and a parasol for 8 Euro. The kids are happy swimming and that makes life a lot easier. Their friends left today which was a bit sad but then again c’est la vie. They were sisters who live in Zürich with Croatian parents. Their English was very good considering their age so the Swiss educational system must be doing good things. It’s sad really that the kids see English as the ‘go to’ language without even thinking that they already understand a lot of Croatian through Polish. As much as I hate the fact English really is the Aqua Regia of languages.

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On the island (iii)

It’s always through swimming that I find my way to peace and gradually, gradually the combination of routine and swim after swim is giving me the feeling that I am far away from my daily toil. Our hotel caters for families primarily so there are many parents like us wearing that worn look that cries forlornly after a distant youth. With three kids there is always one demanding attention and demands are what you really don’t want on vacation. Luckily their attention is somewhat diverted by their newfound friends.
Some things that annoy me include reserving sun beds all day with towels and people blatantly filling up their bags with breakfast foods despite the notices requesting not to take food. I try to let these things go as people will always break rules and I just need to live my way. There are almost no English speaking families here which is unusual in a European resort. At the same time I feel very much at home. It is similar to the feeling I had in Canada where it wasn’t really foreign because it was like Ireland. The fact that the language is so close to Polish and the general friendliness means that it just feels slightly foreign. If I compare it to Spain it feels much more like home (even though I love that country and speak okay Spanish). I guess that I can only be half-foreign here with a Polish wife and the people here seem to recognize the Slavic familiarity straight away. Croatian sounds a lot more pleasing to the war then Polish though.
The entertainment at the hotel is quite good. There is a great atmosphere at the bar at night. Luna and Daisy were showing off their gymnastics tricks which was very popular. In this part of the world people really appreciate that kind of thing. My brain is obviously working better again too because I have read a whole magazine in German today. I have to get back to Japanese but maybe that will be tomorrow’s homework.

On the island (ii)

It’s hard to have that summer feeling without getting that first swim in the sea so I was glad to get a morning swim today to get things going. The nearest beach to the hotel (through the trees in the photo) is  more of a rocky outcrop with a big pull after the waves hit the shore. it is very unsuitable for children or even weak adult swimmers. The breakfast spread is very good though it’s hard to get the children to just take what they will eat. We left the kids at the mini club in the morning but before long we got a call asking us to pick them up as they were ‘bored’. We made them go  back until lunch but by then they had made friends and didn’t want to come! Later on we had the dreaded call to come and pick them up again and the staff were quit tetchy about the whole thing.
There is a more child friendly beach about ten minutes away so we took the kids there and later we moved to the pool to meet their friends. Hopefully they will start to calm down and give us some peace. I am reading “Us” by David Nicholls which is not really as good as “One Day” despite the blurb. I was planning to do some Japanese here too but I haven’t started yet. Croatian sounds very nice. Of course there are a lot of parallels with Polish but so far we haven’t had so much success with specific words. We can understand what they are saying but you don’t always pick up the word you need to repeat e.g. – “Two of those please” (in baby Croatian) – Two hundred grams or two slices? – “Two ‘plasterki’ please” (Look of confusion and gives me two slices.)
I don’t know if I will get into fully relaxed holiday mode but we are gradually getting there.

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On the island (i)

We left Ljubljana after breakfasting at the B&B beside the church whose bells start ringing before the cock crows. I was very happy that my beloved was willing to do all of the driving so I could just concentrate on getting the navigation system working. The drive was on the motorway up until just above the Croatian border but after that we were on regional roads until the coast. The coast road to Brestova was pretty hairy and once we got to the ferry we had a good wait before we could be on our way. The ferry ride to Cres was really nice and scenic. On the other side there is little development where we arrived and we had a long drive on lots of narrow roads to get to Mali Lošinj where the hotel is. 

Although we are very far out on an island in the Med there is actually a small airport close by so I think that explains a good portion of the tourists in the fully booked hotel though some of them came on the same ferry as we did. Now that we are here we are trying to chill out but it might take a day or two to really relax. We don’t have to think about food because we are on half board. There is no real beach here, just a rocky bay where people swim off from. I will have a first swim tomorrow and check it out. The girls were in the pool which is salty so that did not go down well. I hope that they get used to that and we just enjoy this time far away on an island in the blue of the Mediterranean Sea.