Today was my first Father’s day as a dad, and at breakfast Samantha surprised me with a card and some photo prints of me and Conway. We were in the garden again, and while we enjoyed all the juices and good loose leaf tea, we chatted with a local rich couple who come here for breakfast because ‘it’s cheaper’. They showed us a list of all the interesting things we could do on the island, a list of things we wouldn’t do.
After salmon and eggs we took another walk along the coast, this time turning left and going South. The paved walkway, with its built in lights, becomes a gravel track that hugs the coast. A small church, Crkvica Navještenja Blažene Djevice Marije, looks out into the bay, and just beyond is Lanterna, a restaurant and grill.
We pushed onwards in the 30C heat, seeking shade where the pine offered it, and using a little battery powered fan to keep Conway cool.
We stopped at Hotel Aurora for cola and ice cream. Two kids drove around a toy car with glee, reversing into trees and giggling with every bump, Conway watched them and showed his wide beam grin that woos all that meet him.
On the return trip we stopped to eat at Lanterna. Beneath the shade of a parasol and with the endless sea stretching out in front of us, we shared an octopus salad, flat bread and duved rice. Conway played with the little plastic packets the cutlery arrived in, crushing them in his tiny hands and staring intently with his mother’s concentration face.
After we’d fed, and after he’d fed, he slept in the buggy. We moved on and parked up at a bench in the shade besides the water. With Hotel Bellevue in the distance and the water gently rippling in a cooling breeze, we rested, soaking up all the tranquility on offer.
Back at the hotel we chilled besides the sea. A darter bird perched nearby and pruned its wings. Sam went for a dip in the clear water, you could see down to the bottom, through shoals of little fish.
For the most expensive and tastiest holiday meal we’d booked dinner at the Alfred Keller restaurant, which is part of the boutique Alhambra hotel. We’d fancied staying there, but they didn’t have a pool and we found there were too many steps as well.
We dressed up smartly, and put Conway in a neat bird shirt. On arrival another baby was eating with a family, which relaxed us. We sat on the veranda overlooking the sea, the late afternoon sunshine lit up the pine forest besides us. Conway sat at the end of the table in his baby seat, the waiter brought him a selection of fine silver spoons for him to suck on and play with, with backups for when inevitably one would end up on the floor.
We kept our alcohol intake minimal, and instead of wine we celebrated with an opening Kir Royale aperitif, our go-to celebratory drink, which we drank slowly through the opening courses.
This was a restaurant of utmost quality; meals were brought out together and revealed to us in synchrony, with little pots of sauce poured onto whichever course was in front of us.
Our food was spectacular. The prawns and carrot was divine – I didn’t know you could make carrot taste so good. The fennel served with the monkfish was perfectly delicate. And the cauliflower cooked in brown butter and served with the striploin was another example of a common vegetable tasting otherworldly.
As the sun set, the pine forest turned from orange to red to blue, the stars rose above us, and the moon and Venus were above our table. A singer and pianist played lounge tunes, and we sat a little longer to enjoy the privilege of this decadence, as Conway nodded off in our arms.
After Father’s day, today we made space for some mummy time. After a long breakfast that included a rare double espresso, Samantha went to the spa for a massage while I took Conway to our room to rest and play. Our room smelt of orange and sandalwood. After her spa Sam relaxed by the pool with her book, I brought her forest fruit and vanilla ice cream from the seafront.
Tonight was England’s first match in the World Cup and we considered hanging out at the beach bar to enjoy it, but after what Sam described as “the worst burger ever”, we left and sat down by the sea instead, where the hotel’s jellyfish lights bobbed on the surface.
On the sofas by the water we noticed why Conway had been in such agony in the night – on his lower gum a little white tooth was poking out, he’d cut his first tooth on holiday.
When the sun had set it was time for kick-off and in the hotel’s Gentleman’s club (apparently football is only for men), I watched England win their first game, right at the death, beating Tunisia 2-1.
After Conway and Sam were asleep I went out to the water’s edge, where the light pollution was lowest, and tried my hand at a little more astrophotography – capturing my first photos of the lagoon and trifid nebulae.