Under An Island Sun – Episode 29

The main characters from the story

They woke early and shared a bottle of orange juice as they turned to face landwards, to the east, in time to catch the first rays of daylight appear over the mountains.

“Fresh from Africa,” Antonio announced.

A pale light lining the edges of the summits grew steadily and silently, until the sun itself appeared, just a sliver at first, then rising in its full glory, bringing back all the colour to their world.

When it was time to go, they reluctantly packed their rucksacks and headed back along the beach.

“Thank you for bringing me here, Antonio. It was everything you promised and more.”

“You’re welcome.” He seemed to think for a moment before continuing.

“My daughters and their families will be visiting Fuerteventura over Easter.

“They rent a villa, and we have a family reunion, with many big meals.

“Would you like to come along one day? The food is very good, and they want to meet you.

“They say it has been too long and that I have to live my life.”

“As do we all,” Hilary agreed. “I’d love to come, so long as you’re sure I won’t be treading on any toes.

“Mind you, you’ve met my family. It seems only fair that I should meet yours.”

“You will still be here, then?”

Hilary was surprised by the anxious look on his face, until she cottoned on to the reason.

“Don’t worry, Antonio. I’m not going back to England for good. I just want to check that my house is OK.

“I love being on Fuerteventura. It’s changed everything for me. And I love being with you.”

Antonio’s beaming face could almost have competed with the sun.

He grasped her hands, and they shared a kiss as the sun rose fully and lit up the whole beach.

Mairi was enjoying a well-earned tea break with her dad.

With the last few weeks having been spent alternating between the biting wind outside and the comparative warmth of the lambing barn, it seemed hardly possible that only a month ago she had been basking in the Canaries, her skin growing as golden as the landscape.

Part of her missed the island and the camaraderie there, but another part was also glad to be home.

Though snow still dusted the hilltops, drifts of daffodils inhabited roadside verges, while shy primroses dotted banks and the birdsong was almost as loud as an orchestra.

Along with the Lakeland landscape, there was something comforting about being with the livestock, from the smell of hay and the warmth of their bodies to the eternal miracle of new life, sometimes against the odds.

Even now, in the comfortable farmhouse kitchen, she was keeping half an eye on a lamb, barely hours old.

Almost lifeless when it had come in, it was already showing signs of recovery in the lower oven of the Aga, door open.

Her father, restless from his enforced convalescence indoors, gained some consolation from being on hand to bottle-feed their little patients.

He was currently in the wooden armchair in the corner, with Archie the cat curled on his lap.

“We’d never have managed the lambing without you,” he told Mairi.

“Not without taking on more labour, which we can’t afford, or your mother having to take time off work, with the same result.” He sighed.

“I remember when you were barely knee high, toddling round the farmyard, when most little girls would wrinkle their noses at the very idea, scared of getting their dainty hands dirty.”

“I was certainly never dainty,” Mairi agreed.

Her dad looked at her and narrowed his eyes.

“You wouldn’t have been any use if you were. That doesn’t stop you from being a comely lass.

“Never let anyone tell you otherwise.”

With the two of them being thrown together over the past weeks, she had told him a lot about her time on Fuerteventura, including the “talk” with Nicole, which she presented jokingly.

Her mum had been there at the time.

They’d both laughed dutifully at her portrayal, but Mairi, catching a glance between them, knew they weren’t convinced.

Thankfully, she’d distracted them with the saga of Hilary and Antonio.

To be continued…

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