Summer by the Sea

Helen Cooke is 61; Julian Cooke is 56; Juliana Cooke is 22: Charlie Cooke is 17.
Jason Larson is 21; Joanne Fleig is 17.

June 2026

Previous update here

Helen Cooke was looking forward to another summer by the sea.

Friends from Richmond often said that they envied Helen and Julian for having a house out here, but it wasn't all summer afternoons on the beach. More than once, they'd worried about flooding from the harsh winter storms, and even without that danger, the wind blowing in through the sound meant that for half the year their windows were clouded with a layer of sand.

But none of that seemed to matter a bit, now that summer was here.

It all faded into insignificance as soon as they were able to spend long afternoons on the deck looking out at the sea.

There were plenty of other reasons to welcome summer.  Business at the restaurant had been slow over the colder months.  Fortunately, during the colder months they kept their running costs to a minimum, with Helen working as hostess...

and Julian cooking.

Even so, Helen was relieved to see that business was finally picking up, as people were starting to enjoy the beach again.

It was warm enough to sit outside now, and the views from the old lighthouse were spectacular. It was going to be a good summer.

It wasn't just the restaurant that had Helen in a positive mood about the coming months. Having her daughter home played a big part in it, too.

Juliana and her fiance Jason were staying for the summer. It was the last time that they'd do this - all going well, at the end of the next semester they would both finish college. The couple had a lot to plan for - graduation, their wedding, finding an apartment in the city. Helen loved having them home, even if it had been difficult to cram a double bed into the tiny spare room to accommodate them.

Surprisingly, it was actually more spacious than their dorm room. Helen could see why they were looking forward to finally moving into an apartment together.

A part of her had held onto the idea that they might make their home in the Village after graduation, but she knew that realistically this wasn't going to happen. Juliana was planning to go into architecture, a career she could really only get started in, in the city. Jason was joining the police force, and while he might get a posting here later in his career, like Juliana he needed to be in the city to train.

They spent their evenings talking and playing board games...

... although Juliana made no secret of the fact that this was kind of boring for her...

She preferred to spend the evenings out catching up with old friends, and often it was only Jason at home with Helen and Julian. Not that they minded the extra time to get to know their future son-in-law.

Charlie was out a lot, too, usually with his girlfriend Joanne. He'd been grounded last summer, and the way things were going, he would be again this year. If only he would show just a bit of the motivation that had got Juliana through college! He had next-to-no interest in school or study, preferring to spend time with Joanne...

...or play his guitar...

...or hang out with his sister.

Anything other than study.  It finally came to the point where his boss let him go from his part-time job after hearing how bad Charlie's grades were.

Julian ended up pretty much standing over his son until he caught up the huge pile of homework on his desk. His grades were fortunately picking up a little by the time school was out for the summer.

Julian had a challenge of his own that spring. From the first time he heard about the cooking contest to be held in Richmond, he was determined to win.  Helen entered too, although she never expected to win. She was really only there to give moral support to Julian.

On the day of the contest, they were allocated a kitchen space, and they set to work.

Disaster struck, though, when Julian was distracted by a woman who stopped to ask some questions about the contest. Looking at her outfit, Julian found himself wondering if he should have worn full chef's garb, too.

Unfortunately the conversation went on a little too long, and the lobster burned to a crisp!

Well, there was still a little time before the judging, so he quickly whipped up another dish...

To his horror, he only had time to cook it in the microwave. Well, it was better than nothing, but he wasn't at all sure if it would be good enough to win the contest.

He was even more annoyed when he realized that the chef lady was a contestant. Could she have been deliberately distracting other contestants to give herself an edge?

The judging was tense for everyone...

... and Julian was declared the winner!

 Take that, cheating chef lady!

As well as a cash prize, there was an award to display in the restaurant.

She'd been right, Helen decided.

It was going to be a good summer.


Well, I played my RCT students, and nothing much happened... so I did this instead. It's loosely a college update thanks to Juliana, so it'll do :)

This is 99% gameplay, the thing with Julian being distracted by the chef lady really happened when we tried to fulfill his 'win a cooking contest' want. But the funniest thing that happened involved Juliana and Jason. I had Helen invite them both to stay the night a couple of times, so it was really like they were there for the whole play session. But both times, Juliana left! Even after accepting the invite to stay over, the 'look at how late it is'-type dialog came up, and she went. Jason stayed, though, and we invited her back again the next day. That's where I came up with the idea of him hanging out with her parents more than she did.

Since this is in place of a college update... I did some more decorating around the RCT campus...

... and a cute shot of Jason and Juliana in their tiny dorm room...

RCT Semester Two Grades:
Meadow Thayer - B
Jamie Centowski - B
Juliana Cooke - B-
Jason Larson - C 


  1. The uni looks great, hope to see more of it. Wow, Charlie is something else isn't he :)

  2. I love seeing that house out there! It looks so amazing. I'm glad Julian won, despite the cheater! Ah, I have a Charlie in my own neighborhood named Tommy, but your Charlie is much more entertaining.

  3. What a lovely update, and so nice to read this just when summer is quietly slipping into autumn over here!
    I love it how you incorporate gameplay into your stories, and your pictures always make it such a pleasant read.

  4. LOL, nice work, Julian! Chef Lady was definitely trying to give herself an edge over her competitors with her little stop and chat routine!

    "Stay the night" never works for me. They always go home!

    I love your campus decorating. The subway station looks great where you have it and I love how alive the place looks!


Thanks for reading and commenting!