The half term holiday began with a Big Event - on Friday Bella lost her first tooth and the tooth fairy visited our house. A pound coin was exchanged for a tiny (oh so tiny) tooth and I found myself sad and marveling at how it seems like only last summer those sharp little bottom teeth broke through those baby gums. How time flies.
On Saturday we traveled down to the South Coast and on Sunday we caught up with old, good friends, the very best kind, and three small people flew (or tried to fly) a kite on hill.
You can see the London skyline in the distance and just make out the new Shard building above the white tree trunk in the middle of the picture.
Monday started well. My parents got up with Bella and Angus, took them downstairs for their breakfast (Coco pops) and brought John and I cups of tea in bed. I sat propped up with pillows and read this and it was a rare and special treat. Fortunately our children are not especially early risers, any time between 6.30 and 7.30 is their normal waking time, but it was very nice to be off duty for an hour.
The sun shone and the beach beckoned.
We went with my parents and my sister, Katy, and her children, Alicia and Jeremy. Boys do like throwing stones into the water an awful lot.
I've written before of my love for the coast, particularly the places which are familiar and special to me, but really any seaside place makes me happy, whatever the weather.
I feel restored after spending time by the sea - not just in the sense that you head feels clear after some fresh air, but emotionally restored. Better. Happier.
The cousins played in the sand. Despite the freezing wind we had to drag them away from their digging and sandcastles.
Tuesday was the day of the Big Family Lunch. My mum promised to "keep it simple" and went on to provide soup, two types of bread, salads, smoked salmon, assorted cheeses and cold meats, and then brownies with ice cream for dessert. For fourteen. The lunch was one of those long affairs which goes on all through the afternoon.
On Wednesday I turned thirty five. I can no longer tick the twenty five to thirty four age bracket on surveys. I am in the Next Age Bracket. I dealt with this by buying fabric, naturally. We went to Chichester and I visited The Eternal Maker, a shop selling all manner of wonderful crafty things; fabric, buttons, ribbons, threads. I don't think I've ever visited somewhere with such a wide range of beautiful fabrics. I was quite overwhelmed with the choice and the kids were starting to take the place apart button by button, so I bought a few fat quarters and half metres that caught my eye and two metres of Nani Iro fabric that I have absolutely no idea what to do with at the moment.
My mum made me a birthday cake. We joked about it - would I like a princess castle? Or a fairy tale cottage? Or a mouse running up a clock? But I know she enjoyed baking it and I liked that she wanted to make a cake for me. The morning of my birthday I asked my Dad what he was doing thirty five years ago to the day and he said that after I was born in the early hours of the morning he went home and had a shower, then got on the London train and went to work. This was in 1978, long before paternity leave. When he arrived at work his boss took one look at him and told him to go home. That's nice, I said, did you go back to the hospital to see Mum? He said no, it was snowing, I went tobogganing with my sister. Err...
Thursday brought a blissfully child free morning of shopping and lunch in Wagamama. Delicious noodles are pictured above. I love my children, but it was very nice to shop without them. Behold, a funky new dress (hurry up, summer) and new jeans!!
Then there was a birthday party for Eleanor, the youngest of my sister Anna's girls. I love watching my two with their cousins. There are six of them altogether: Bella (6), Alicia (5), Jennifer (4 "I'm nearly 5!"), Jeremy (4), Angus (3) and Eleanor (very nearly 3). I wish very much that I saw them more than two or three times a year.
On Friday we traveled home then tackled unpacking, washing, sorting, emails, admin, bills. Saturday consisted of food shopping, errands to the library, bank, picture framers and pharmacy, and some bagels.
Tomorrow will bring housework, then a big pub lunch with two other families and their children, and most likely the school uniform will be ironed, reading books will be read, PE kits checked and other chores ticked off the list. Such is the warp and weft of life.
Half term. It was a glass half full.