I have discovered something important about duvets. It’s an odd one when I come to think about it. Actually, no, it’s infuriating.
Things we need inside a home are usually a standard size, things like light bulb sockets, soakaway pipes, curtain hooks and duvet covers. If I have a double duvet, I’m going to hunt for a double duvet cover. Simples, you think, but you will be wrong. I was wrong for decades, wondering, as I wrestled my way through the menopause (should be named womenopause), what on earth was wrong with me. Sleepless nights, wrangled bedding, hot, cold, covered, uncovered, good lord how much longer will this ailment assail me, and then some. It must be me. of course it’s me. It always is. Every other women is in control of her duvet. I know this because we talk about it.
Many years too late I have a thought as I shake the duvet back into the corners. Now wait just a minute here. As I observe the ridges of clumped feathers around the edges of the cover and that flat meadow in the centre I begin to wonder if a standard single duvet cover is standard at all. I get my tape measure, remove the duvet, lay it flat on the floor, measure it. Ditto the standard single duvet cover. There is a discrepancy of two inches total, two inches not enough for the inside to rest comfortably flat within the outside. This is a crime. This is confinement and we have been in jail for years, me and my duvet.
I begin my research. It seems that, although duvet covers in the UK are one standard size (unless you click on the ‘super long’ or super wide’ box prior to purchase) whereas duvets are from somewhere else altogether and sized according to an EU ‘standard’ which is bigger. I wonder how many others have discovered this nugget of gold information buried deep in the mines of confused marketing? Nowadays I purchase a double duvet cover for a single duvet and am freed once and for all time from my nightly prison. It thinks me, this insidious confinement over time, the one that didn’t introduce itself nor explain, the one that kept me in the dark and withheld vital information from me, such that could have seen me free a long time ago.
Yesterday the sun shone like a fireball and we decided to head for a beach. There are many stunning island beaches, and the one we chose is not easily accessible. Less people. Less confinement. Picnic packed, rugs, buckets and spades, suncream and extra nappies and we set off. The beach we chose is down a long track that snakes the rocky shoreline and runs between granite rock risings and emerald grasses. Bumping our way onto a flat-ish plateau we disembarked and began the walk down to an enchanting bay, one I had never visited before despite living just across the water for over 40 years. Tapselteerie days were not for me to play in. Whether or not I was confined to the domestic, I felt that I was. It was always someone else who took the children to such idyllic places. The little ones stripped off to run pellmell down to the receding tideline, grabbing nets and spades and screeching with excitement. Unconfined. And we relaxed, stretched, breathed in the salt air as the sun warmed our faces, a feeling of freedom washing over us both.
For a few short hours we watched the play, paddled among rocks and fingers of kelp, caught hermit crabs and released them back, built castles and buried toes. As I sat alone, watching the grey clouds build overhead, I heard the eerie song of the seals somewhere in the distance. The sound, like wailing flute music made me smile. Sailors captivated by this sound have foundered their boats on rock teeth, and those who survived spun stories of Selkies, creatures half woman, half seal, who lured ships to their end, greedy for sailor husbands. I close my eyes and let the siren call fill my mind. On this island, busy as it may be during the summer months, we hold history and mystery in both hands. Beaches like this one accommodate seabirds, waders, otters, sandpipers, plovers and seals. There is room for all of them including us. Scurvy grasses line the shore, black basalt rocks lift their snouts to the elements, their faces coated in white and gold lichens etched in intricate designs.
As the tide slinks further away, we pack up to leave. All that is left are footprints and they will be dissolved by tonight leaving only space, unconfined, timeless, a perfect fit.