Here's the latest posting then - from the Western Isles of Scotland. The weather has been fantastic: suncream a necessity and picnics a staple.
We've been cycling, walking and I've been reading as much as possible. Our friends came to stay for the first week with their daughter and the four kids had a whale of a time doing lots of kid stuff - rolling down the sand-dunes, watching films and eating the first round of chocolate easter eggs which seemed this year to have appeared with alarming regularity.
It's tiring though - full-on family time leaves me feeling exhausted. No school to take the kids off my hands for a while, and Hattie's afternoon sleeps have been truncated shall we say. By the time the kids are in bed, I'm kind of ready for bed myself. Rog and I are slowly watching our way through the box-set of 'The Killing' - the Danish series. It's fantastic, have you watched it? The down-side are the subtitles which require more concentration than one might expect, especially when you're trying to follow the intricacies of a fast-paced psychological drama....in Danish! Last night we resolved to watch TWO episodes - and by the time the second one was on we were both falling asleep in shifts and then waking and saying, "What's just happened?" Needless to say much re-playing of crucial moments was happening. I got to the point where I was wondering if I could manage to close my eyes between the subtitles appearing. Time for bed? I think so!
We've another three days or so here before we have to head home and normal life will have to be resumed. We'll avoid the dreaded Royal Wedding - up here in Scotland it's not even a bank holiday thank heavens. Fervent anti-royalist though I am, I have to admit to a sneaking interest in her dress!! So I might just watch the news or something to catch a glimpse. Have I completely lost it? Don't tell anyone! I've a hospital appointment next week, so has Hattie (not for anything too serious) - and she has her third birthday to celebrate too. Three years ago, I don't want to remember what was happening to me. On that note, I have some niggling worries which I can air at the hospital appointment next week. I hope to be reassured of course....
I'm managing Ed's treatment again - touch wood, having had a blip where I just couldn't find a vein and we were getting into all sorts of bother. And yesterday we discovered that Martha had a tick in her neck! They're a bit of a hazard up here - and the kids have been spending large parts of their time outside in various kinds of heathery landscapes. Out came the tweezers and I pulled that horrible thing out accompanied by a certain amount of family hysteria. I was cool as a cucumber. Ed had one last year so I've become something of an expert. I was quite proud of my medical prowess yesterday - tick removal one moment, giving Ed his treatment the next. Maybe I should deliver a baby today?
Actually, that said, all around us in the field to the back and side of the house lambs are being born - a whole collection have appeared overnight. The farmer/shepherd has been up all night. We've just seen him exhaustedly making his way home to bed I hope. There is something so eternally amazing about seeing a new life appearing, and something so touching about seeing the ewe feeling the same maternal pride and anxiety which all mothers, animal or human feel. Quite humbling really - and helps one to feel connected to the world around in quite a profound way. I know, I know.... give me a few days back home in the city and I won't be feeling this mellow. But, hey - at least it visited me even very fleetingly.
And cooking? Oh yes - lots of cooking which is somehow more pleasurable up here when there doesn't feel the inexorable grinding pressure of making porridge at 6.45am, packed lunches, tea for the kids before swimming lessons and the like, and then a rushed meal for us afer the kids are in bed.
And reading? Yes I mentioned reading. I've just finished Colm Toibin's "Brooklyn" which I just thought was marvellous. An incredible snapshot of a young girl's life which was unputdownable. And before that Maggie O'Farrell's "The Hand that First Held Mine", which gave a desolate account of the pains of motherhood, although was an ultimately uplifting read. Now I've just started Douglas Kennedy's "Leaving the World". I've read quite a lot of his books. I always start off quite unconvinced, I think he's quite a light read and certainly a 'holiday' book rather than an intellectual experience. But I always end up thoroughly involved with his characters - and a couple of chapters in I'm hooked.
I've just started reading "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis (as if you didn't know!) to Ed and Martha. They are totally entranced. I've managed to steer them away from the films so they've no idea what the books are about. We read four chapters last night before bed and Ed had to be prised away from the book - I've promised at least another four tonight. The best fun - reading those fantastic classics to your kids. Now I know why I became a parent - I can see the absolute delight that I felt when I read them as a child reflected on the kids' faces. Isn't that worth something? Well it is to me who would happily read rather than do almost anything at all.
Ok - sorry to write nothing on a regular basis and then suddenly subject you to a torrent of inconsequential detail about what's going on in our corner of the world. I'm wondering anyhow if anyone will bother to read this. Perhaps I've lost my blogland friends through my irregular posting. I hope not - my blog is still important to me despite my less frequent posts, and I still enjoy reading everyone else's posts too. It's a funny old thing blogging. Life kind of gets in the way... although I suppose that is how it should be.
It was on the... 18th January, actually
23 hours ago