“You know, it’s a good thing you don’t have a girlfriend?”
“Why do you say that?”
“She might have a problem with you spending so much time with me.”
“I’m glad I don’t have a girlfriend either but if I did, I would just explain to her that my aunt is all alone while her husband and daughter are traipsing about France. I’m sure she’ll understand that I don’t want you to feel lonesome.”
“How old are you now, Nigel?”
“You look like you’re in your twenties.”
“Well, you look like you’re in your thirties.”
Ruth laughed. “Thank you. I’m flattered that you think I look younger than I am.”
“It’s hard to believe that you have a 19 year old daughter.”
“You’re making me blush.”
“It’s becoming. You’re a beautiful woman, Ruth. You don’t mind if I don’t call you Aunt Ruth when we’re alone, do you?”
“Why should I mind? I’ll feel younger when you call me Ruth.”
“By the way, your Uncle Gideon and Chelsey will be returning from France next week Sunday.”
“I guess this means that after next week Saturday you and I won’t be able to spend any more time together.”
“You can visit me at the house over the weekend.”
“I know but it won’t be the same.”
“Chelsey will be away at Oxford.”
“Yes, but Uncle Gideon will be around. You and I won’t be alone together like we are now.”
“Tell you what. While Gideon’s be busy watching the World Cup in the living-room, you and I can relax in the conservatory.”
“Great. So, are you ready?”
Ruth stared at him. “Ready? Ready for what?”
“For a trip to Dover. We can spend the day climbing cliffs, visiting castles driving through the countryside and of course, relax on one of the beautiful beaches. What do you say?”
Ruth smiled. “I say, yes. Give me five minutes to pack a swimsuit, sunscreen and anything else I can think of.” She hurried out of the living-room, her cheeks flushed with excitement. It had been years since she last went to Dover and she was looking forward to going there again.
Twenty minutes later, they were sailing down the M2, heading for Dover. It was the perfect day for such an outing. “Have you heard from the traveling duo?” Nigel asked.
“Yes. I got a postcard from Little Venice in Colmar. It was one of their side trips from Besançon. It looks lovely.”
“Where they now?”
“In Toulon. Gideon texted me to tell me that they took a cable car up to Mont Faron for stunning views of the city and the sea.”
“It sounds like they’re enjoying themselves.”
“Yes, they are.”
“Just as you and I have been enjoying ourselves.”
“Yes. I haven’t been to so many places in a whole year.”
“I’m surprised to hear that. Don’t the three of you take family trips? Growing up, my family and I were always going somewhere.”
“Yes, we’ve taken family trips but lately, we’ve all been so caught up in our own lives and busy with work and school that we just haven’t had the time. We were supposed to go somewhere last year Christmas but we didn’t.” She didn’t mention that she was reason why. She had wanted to remain in London for the holidays because of Dushan who ended up spending them with another woman who was now his wife.
“Is something the matter?”
She shook her head. “No, nothing’s the matter.”
“It will be hard for Chelsey to think about Oxford after a long summer break and a holiday in France. It was always hard for me to get into the school/university mode.”
“It’s going to be quite a change for her because she’s going to be living on campus.”
“How come? The commute to Oxford isn’t long. It takes an hour by train.”
“Chelsey just decided that she wanted to be independent and thought that living on campus would be a start. She will be home for the holidays, March and summer breaks.”
“I guess I can understand that. When I was attending Cambridge, I lived on campus and went home for March and summer breaks and the holidays too. I liked living on campus. I’m sure she will too.”
“I hope so. If she doesn’t like it, she could always come home.”
“It’s going to be strange just you and Uncle Gideon in that big house, isn’t it?”
“I guess so. It’s strange now with both of them gone.”
When they reached Dover, the first stop was to the White Cliffs. It rose above the Channel and when they climbed it, they could see France. Ruth stood there, admiring the views. It had been a tricky climb to the top but she had made it, thanks to the leveling off of the path. She glanced at Nigel who was in far better shape than she. He returned her stare. “The views are worth the climb, aren’t they?”
She nodded. “Yes, they are.”
“The cliffs are mentioned in Shakespeare’s King Lear. After the character Gloucester gets his eyes torn out by his family, he makes his way towards Dover, where he encounters his son Edgar who is in disguise. Edgar allows the despairing his father to believe that he is throwing himself off the cliff and then, at the bottom of the cliff, he pretends to be another person who persuades Gloucester that he has survived.”
“What happened to that poor man is horrible and depressing but at least he was prevented from committing suicide.”
“Yes, King Lear is more of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Sorry, Ruth, I’m sorry if I’ve spoiled this moment for you by mentioning Gloucester.”
“You’ve haven’t spoiled anything for me. Let’s stay a little while longer.”
After they made their way down the cliffs, they drove to the coastal town of Deal which they explored on foot before they visited Dover Castle, England’s largest castle. Then, they had lunch at an Italian restaurant in Dover before they visited Dover Museum. Their last stop was the Shakespeare Beach. “This isn’t easily assessible as the other beaches,” Nigel explained as he parked the car on the street in Aycliffe. “but it’s less busy and better suited to adults.”
After they got their things from the trunk, they walked along the footpath and across a footbridge to the beach. They climbed down some 100 or so steps. After finding a nice spot, they spread the beach blanket which Ruth had packed. Ruth tried not to stare when Nigel took off his tee shirt and jeans. She removed her top and denim capris.
Nigel eyes traveled over her bikini clad body and a tense expression came over his face. He looked away. “If you look back from here, you’ll see Shakespeare Cliff.”
Ruth glanced behind her. “It’s impressive.”
“Shakespeare visited Dover frequently and was here at the time when he was writing King Lear.”
She sat down on the beach blanket and began to apply the sunscreen to her skin. When she finished putting it on her arms, neck, chest and legs, she held the bottle out to him. “Could you put some on my back, please?” she asked.
Nigel hesitated and then, he took the bottle from her. She swept her hair over her shoulder so that it wasn’t in the way. Her breath caught in her throat and her heart began to beat faster when she felt his hands on her back. She closed her eyes as all sorts of sensations coursed through her body.
When he was done, Nigel handed her the bottle. Their fingers touched. He swallowed hard. He scrambled to his feet and stood with his back to her. He had already put on sunscreen but his back didn’t have any. He debated if he should ask her to put some on for him. Finally, after wrestling with himself, he asked, “Could you put some of sunscreen on my back for me?”
“You wear sunscreen too?”
“I’m happy to hear that. Most men don’t wear sunscreen because they think it’s a “girly” beauty product or they don’t think they need it. And many of them end up getting skin cancer, including melanoma. Sunscreen has other benefits such as fending off wrinkles, age spots and leathery, weathered skin. Gideon doesn’t have any problem using sunscreen at all. He took his with him on his trip to France and he made sure Chelsey took hers as well.”
“From since I was a child, I have been wearing sunscreen.”
Ruth picked up the bottle of sunscreen which was lying on the beach blanket beside her and stood up. She applied a generous amount in her hands and smeared it on his broad back. Slowly, she worked the cream in until it was absorbed in his skin. What a gorgeous body he had, she thought to herself and gulped when she felt her own body react. She stepped away from him. This is madness. He’s Gideon’s nephew. I can’t be attracted to him.
Nigel turned to face her. “Ruth…”
“Let’s go for a walk and then for a swim,” she suggested brightly, too brightly.
“All right,” he conceded quietly and they set off.
Sources: Visit London; Planet Ware; Winchester College; The Crazy Tourist; Explore Kent; Water’s Edge Dermatology
One thought on “Dover, White Cliffs, Deal, Shakespeare & Sunscreen”
LikeLiked by 1 person