As a child I always wanted to live in a lighthouse, a lighthouse on an island with a small boat and plenty of food. I used to imagine my father as the lighthouse keeper and I would paint all day and cook and clean. There would be no need for school, as my father knew everything.
By the time I was ten, I still hadn't seen an island, let alone a lighthouse, but I was ever hopeful. When I asked my father if we could leave grandmother’s house to live on our own island, he nodded his head thoughtfully, with his pipe in his mouth. The pipe he probably had made himself.
‘You had an island when you were a little boy!’ I said to him. ‘Could we live there?'
‘That was a long time ago,’ he said to me. ‘The old house with its lake and its island belongs to someone else now.’
I never asked my father about living in a lighthouse for another whole year. Then on my eleventh birthday, he took me for my first ever, proper restaurant meal, and as I sat by the window looking out at the sea...I saw it! A magical island with a lighthouse!
‘Look daddy!’ I was so excited, more excited than being in a proper restaurant. ‘There’s my island!’
The summer after my first meal in a proper restaurant, my father took me to that island to see the lighthouse. In some ways it spoilt my illusion of living in a lighthouse on an island with a boat and plenty of food. But I will always have the memory of what it felt like to have a father who understood me.
Just recently, my kind and unassuming husband took me for a meal in the highest restaurant in Wales. As I sat looking out across the bay, I saw in the distance the island of my dreams, the same island I saw on my eleventh birthday. I reached for my camera and once again I relived the memory.