Well, we are two weeks into the holiday and so far, so good. We've had some excellent day trips, some quiet home days and time with friends. It's been nice. I saw a mum friend from school today and we both commented - with surprise in our voices - that the holidays were actually going really well so far, despite the less than agreeable weather.
Some highlights: Kew Gardens. The children and I went to stay with my friend Abigail in South London and, from her house, caught one bus and three trains to reach our destination. I'd never been to Kew before but always wanted to go, and it didn't disappoint. The attractions I most wanted to see were the glasshouses.
Inside this grey, monolithic structure it is the most marvelous jungle. Hot and almost uncomfortably humid, everything grows green and towering over your head.
You can climb the spiral staircase to a walkway which gives amazing views down onto the plants.
It's simply stunning. My other best bit: the giant waterlilies in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. They captivated me. They're so perfectly, cleverly formed, like trays, and can apparently hold quite a lot of weight.
All four children had a brilliant time. The Full of Spice trails were imaginative and interesting, there were trees to climb and lots of open space to run around in.
Bella and Angus's highlight was the Treetop Walkway. It is as it sounds - a very high path through the treetops.
The thing is, it moves. Quite a lot. It sways a fair bit, and then the kids jump up and down as hard as they can and the floor wobbles and I think the part I most enjoyed was getting back down to the ground.
But all in all, a fabulous day out in an awe-inspiring place and I'd love to go back as we only saw about a quarter of it I think, not even that.
Other holiday highlights include a day out to Stonehenge where I forgot my big camera which annoyed me no end as the clouds were brilliant that day.
It's got to be almost twenty years since I last went and it's changed a fair bit - the new visitor centre and car park is a couple of miles away from the stones and you can walk or catch a shuttle bus. I liked approaching the stones on foot, watching them grow larger as you get closer to them but, honestly, I have mixed feelings about this place. It was absolutely rammed with people, just heaving, and cars on the main road are just whizzing by the whole time, and it was hard to stop and sit and drink it all in. The kids (who've been learning about the Stone Age at school and really wanted to visit) were a bit underwhelmed by it all to be honest. But people say it's a special place. I think it would be lovely (and impossible) to visit the stones at dawn or dusk, when it's empty and quiet and still.
We spent a glorious sunny afternoon at Bosham last Sunday. a beautiful village on the Sussex coast not far from us. I'm going to do a blog post on it soon, it's so lovely and full of history.
We bought ice creams and just wandered around, watched people sailing, enjoyed the warmth of the sun, admired the gardens and the way the sun was so sparkly on the water.
There were hollyhocks everywhere, just bobbing about in the sunshine. I want hollyhocks all over my garden next year, I've decided.
And in complete contrast to all that serenity and calm, John and I took the kids to London on the train yesterday. It was both exhausting and brilliant. I don't really like central London all that much - whenever I go I always feel so rushed - but the kids were just entranced, Angus by the modes of travel (trains! underground trains!) and the many escalators and travelators, Bella by the toys in Hamleys.
We walked along the river, crossed Tower Bridge and visited the Tower of London, which was fascinating and not at all what I expected. It was fun to do all these things and be tourists for a day and treat the kids, but mainly it was so nice to just be the four of us, to have that time together.
Looking back at all these photos I realise why today I felt so deep-down bone tired, like I was wading through treacle. I think some pottering home-days are in order.