This half term break has been a bit of a retreat for me, a necessary withdrawal from the general hubbub of life and an opportunity to rebalance and to recover my equilibrium. It's been about family, eating, walking, sitting, reading, chatting and just being. It seems I also took a lot of photos this week, and this is often my indulgence when I have the time to wander or potter and capture things on camera. Rather than drawing me away from moments, I feel it makes me notice them more. I look harder, better, more closely, when I have my camera with me.
My in-laws travelled down from Durham to stay with us this week and it was just wonderful to see them and show them around our new home and the area. We took a stormy, windy walk along the beach where the sea was pewter and the beach huts shut up for the winter.
Remember that village I shared with you a while ago, Bosham? On a visit this week I was shocked at the height of the tide.
Everyone local was quite unconcerned, the cafe was full and it was business as usual. I think this must be part of life for the residents here. I do hope their homes stayed dry though.
We've been doing all kinds of autumnal things this week. My father in law, who works with wood for a living, brought his chainsaw and axe with him and helped John tackle our unruly wood pile, and it's now neatly chopped and stacked, ready for winter. I planted 200 (yes, really) bulbs and tidied up the garden. When it rained I baked our Christmas cake, hosted playdates and the children made a superb den in the spare room after our guests had left. It kept them entertained for, quite literally, hours although I did miss my clothes airer and pegs quite a bit. I've been reading a lot, working my way through a pile of magazines that go back to the summer and am currently gripped by an Agatha Christie mini-obsession. I forgot how good they are, how sharp, how well plotted, how funny!
The highlight of our week together was a three mile walk through woods and fields yesterday afternoon with my parents. I actually feel a little bit emotional when I think about it. The light was golden and just luminous, and the air had a slightly hazy quality to it and the sun was soft and bright and warm. Rural England is so exceptionally beautiful at this time of year, don't you think, with the woodsmoke in the air and the leaves changing and falling? I felt so full of gratitude to be out walking in it, to think that we actually live here now, and to be so near my family, but mostly gratitude for just being out in the countryside, to be alive and noticing and breathing in and soaking up that autumn day.