After a series of miscarriages, Wendy gave birth to our daughter Charlotte. Unfortunately, that didn’t go well either. And after a month of ventilators, lung bypass machines and operations she was well enough to come home. Still, it wasn’t plain sailing – for a whole year she needed to be secluded from groups of people and a careful watch put on her coughs, colds and sneezes.
As soon as was practical, my Mam and Dad did what they so regularly seem to do – make things better. They brought us to Bardolino. Our first holiday with a child and our first visit to Italy. It was on that trip that we first visited Venice, Verona, Mount Baldo, Limone and so many other things on the lake. It was magical. We felt like a normal family again. (If we could ever be normal!)
Today we were going back to Bardolino.
But first, Charlotte was on the hunt for an inflatable. Somewhere between our last trip to France where she had freaked out in a Lake and to now, Charlotte had found her inner beast and overcame her fear of the water. I’d like to think that it was my amazing ability to reason on fear and how to overcome it. But it was probably her just getting older.
So now, before we could go in the water and then subsequently wander around Bardolino, she needed an inflatable. Many stops and shops later we emerged with a large crocodile and a bright pink lilo. Classy.
Bardolino is just down the Lake from where we were staying, about 20 minutes. Before and after it is a boardwalk that doesn’t really lead anywhere but stretches a mile or so along the shore line. There are cafes and restaurants dotted along the edge gradually getting more and more spaced out. There are little sections of beaches where you can put a towel down and swim.
We parked the car and headed to one of those beaches just at the upper end of the boardwalk. The plan was to swim, drop the stuff back off at the car and then spend the rest of the day in Bardolino – hopefully capping it off with a sunset.
Swimming was a dream. The water was shallow enough for Charlotte to feel secure, then there was a floating pontoon not too far out that she could swim to and then jump in. I can still remember playing with her in the children’s pool at the Hotel we stayed in on our first visit, now almost 10 years later she is jumping and swimming in the lake. I imagine that a lot of parents might take this stuff for granted, but no so for me. We all have our little things that we need to overcome. Progress that we want to make. Things we didn’t really foresee or imagine.
Marcus is a different beast. He watches. And watches. And watches. Then he does it. So having observed Charlotte jumping in for the last 20 minutes it was his turn. Oh dear. One child has an over developed sense of the fear of the water, the other has no fear whatsoever.
Although this video really does look like Wendy is just chucking him in. He really is loving it!
As I watched this all transpire and chilled out on the lilo I couldn’t help but get emotional. It was like in an instant my kids had disappeared. And I became aware that I was losing something that I had loved as much as anything I had loved in my life before, or likely will again. They will never be like this again. Even when they are both all grown up and perfect, they will never ever be like this.
You can not repeat any moment with your kids. Childhood really is a gift.
The only thing that broke the moment was my terrible lack of balance that catapulted me into the water off the lilo.
Once we were all wrinkled prunes, it was time to get dried, dressed and head into the town.
It was so hot that my clothes dried off as we walked along the shoreline. What a cracking day. Our first stop was food. Wendy had this place in mind where she had previously experienced an amazing cocktail/dessert.
Something about swimming gets the appetite going and we ate like it was our last meal. I played it safe with a potato, rosemary and bacon pizza (I was still achin’ for bacon). For dessert I had Marron ice cream. A first for me. It was made with candied chestnuts. Very nice.
We chilled out here for quite a while. I mean, why would you not?
Now for a wander in the town. This place is similar in size to most of the other towns on the Lake, but this one is set out differently and has a grander feel to it. The main street runs straight from the Church to the harbour, it is wide and paved with marble. It dates back to 900 c.e.
We wander, shop, take photos, wander some more. The whole place is touristy, but you can see why. The back alleys are interesting. The shops are cute. The restaurants are appealing. The whole place is inviting.
Before long we head back to the Lake front and grab a seat to watch the sun start to set. I remember sitting on this boardwalk 10 years ago watching the same sun set.
The kids played, ran backwards and forwards and pestered us for more ice cream. Wendy and I walked and held hands.
As we reached the end of the boardwalk and caught the last of the sun, I couldn’t help but feel jealous and happy for my Mam and Dad who were coming back here in just a few weeks time to stay in the same Hotel that we had stayed originally. And at the same time we all missed them.
Soon our conversation moved onto our plans for tomorrow. We had purposely had a quiet and short day today. Tomorrow we were going on a massive road trip through the Dolomites – from dawn to dusk. Time for an early night.