I really thought I'd have loads more time for blogging this summer, but so far that's not happening. I will persevere. We've been really busy catching up with friends and this week and it's been lovely. Old friends from university and from Leeds came down to stay with us and it was so good to see them, to catch up, to eat and drink much too much, to stay up too late.
:: Langstone Harbour, where the blackberries were flowering and it won't be long before we're picking them.
:: The Bishop's Palace Gardens in Chichester, which were looking sensational in full bloom.
(I was quite taken with this type of hydreangea, below, which I believe is called Annabelle.)
:: Emsworth Harbour, for more walks at low tide. Our friends commented on the smell of the mud flats when the tide is out, which is kind of a salty, sulphorous smell. I love it, but apparently not everyone does.
:: Bosham, again. In the rain this time, but that didn't deter us, and made stopping in the pub for a drink all the more enjoyable.
:: A wet and windy (but also strangely mild) beach walk, followed by an excellent pub lunch.
:: A trip to Hever Castle while staying with my friend Abigail.
Every summer the kids and I spend a few nights with Abigail and her family while John is working, and I really cherish that time to catch up in an unhurried way. Bella and Angus get on well with her two girls and we get to spend a lot of time talking and laughing.
Hever is more of a house than a castle (Angus was really disappointed) but the grounds are beautiful and the two mazes - one yew and one water - are wonderful.
It was really good to get home last night though, to unpack and put the house back to normal. A night in front of the tv, just John and I (watching Stranger Things, which is creepy and excellent, and nostalgic too, full of 80's references, I can't recommend it highly enough - is anyone else watching it?) and everyone sleeping where they normally sleep, not on a airbed or in a different room. Today has been spent in a bustle of pre-holiday chores and admin. Bike racks have been chosen and purchased (yawn), holiday insurance sorted and car breakdown cover "upgraded" to include Europe. Honestly, the amount of stuff you have to take with you to drive in France is bewildering. I am writing lists, it's the only way to cope. But all this preparation does add to the feeling of a forthcoming holiday - there are craft projects to choose, books to select - and I'm enjoying the feeling of anticipation.