You find a sandcastle on the beach, studded with shells. It is a kingdom, an empire, abandoned by older children and all four of you are entranced.
For the longest while you play with it, tracing the sand walls with your fingers, adding shells of your own to the turrets. It has a moat, and for a little while I contemplate fetching buckets full of water to fill it for you, wishing fervently all the while that I had brought paper to make boats. It is almost the end of our holiday and in spite of copious amounts of sunscreen that makes you smell of coconut, you sport golden tans, your hair is sun-bleached and crinkly with salt. You look like dream children, like you have been cut carefully from a catalogue, and I am full of disbelief again that you are mine.
If we were at home it would be past your bedtime and you would be sleeping soundly, but we are determined to eke our every delicious last minute of our seaside holiday. So we skip stones across the beach and watch Balthazar leap from the wooden posts that divide the stretch of sand and we let Lysander daydream. I am just beginning to wonder if we will see the sun set here, when Embla falls on her bottom and her silt-stained and soaking dress dictates that we pack up the pram.
It is too beautiful an evening to let it conclude so early, so after changing Embla into dry clothes we venture back out into the golden light.
Beside the playground is a restaurant, and your mama takes you to swing whilst I order: orange juice for a treat (and Balthazar, you have all of three sips from the glass before it is spilled across the table) and chips for the boys. We order vegetable burgers for ourselves, with hummus and halloumi and roasted squash, and fries on the side, which we agree that the little girls can share. Embla sits on Mama’s lap and is delighted, but when my plate is placed in front of Olympia she claims it for her own and pulls exaggerated ferocious faces when I try to claim a chip! She eats delicately, with my cutlery, whilst I try to sneak fries with my fingers whenever her concentration is stolen. Oh, little girl, your outrage when I dare touch my burger is hilarious, and makes us all laugh. We compromise; we share bites, me and all of you children and even Balthazar likes roasted vegetables and lettuce when it is served at the seaside.
Sated, we walk back to our caravan together, one last time. The boys and Olympia race, laughing, they call her a ‘naughty seagull’ because after this holiday they cannot think of any worse thing than seagulls. Embla sits proudly in the top seat of the pram, a princess in a chariot.
This last night, this perfect last night, feels like the most magical of ways to say goodbye to Camber.