The packing isn’t going well. I keep having mad panics and throwing things out that I shall probably need, like all the ice cream cartons I keep to put stock in, and about 75 glass jars waiting to be filled with jams and marmalades. And I can’t get the order right – yesterday I packed all the glasses, so we’re now drinking juice out of mugs, which is ‘common as muck’ as my Grandma Maudie would say. I also packed all my underwear, but then I realised that two weeks of rummaging in a suitcase for a pair of knickers would drive me barmy, and totally cancels out the satisfaction of having one more drawer emptied. So back they went.
De brevren are the polar opposite when it comes to packing. Little Chas has his entire room packed into boxes and ready, was counting down the days in his homework diary (which must have pleased his teachers no end) and spends hours glued to Facebook chatting to his mates. The Prof, admittedly somewhat distracted with his exams, wants nothing to do with packing, so I’ve mostly left him alone to study (occasionally emerging to create vast sandwiches from the contents of the fridge and head back upstairs balancing teetering towers of said sandwich, crisps, packets of biscuits and glasses of milk) and spend hours talking to his mates on the Xbox (see the common theme here?). I did nab him for half an hour to try and explain to me what all the wires were near the Xbox. This did not go well. Apparently he ‘needs it all’ and nothing must be packed. Awkward.
Every day, I’m thinking of things I will do – the things I haven’t been able to do for a long time – things I’m planning and things I’m looking forward to. Here’s my top ten:
1. Walking to the shop on a Sunday morning, buying an armful of papers and lolling around reading, with endless cups of tea.
2. Shopping in Waitrose with my Mum. Oh I know, snobby and all that. But I bloody love Waitrose. And I love shopping with my Mum. It takes us ages because we pick things up, have a chat about them, then put them down again – planning dinners and discussing ingredients. I love it.
3. Hugging my Dad. He always pretends that he hates to be hugged, so when the boys and I give him a massive cuddle he stands all stoney like a soldier, but for some reason that makes us all want to hug him more. Look, he’s doing it here:
Oh and happy Fathers’ Day for this weekend, Dad. This counts instead of a present right? Right?
4. Going out to dinner. I miss restaurants. And wine. I miss mulling over menus and dithering over starters surrounded by the people I love.
5. Cocktails! I shall go for cocktails with my favourite girlfriends and talk waffle until we’re blue in the face. Cannot wait.
6. Chatting with my nieces and nephews. I have two nieces. I adore them both – they are sassy, cool, funny and – as a mother of boys – they are the girly lights of my life. I miss them so much. My lovely nephew Jackson is a mean cook already and often tries my recipes for me. I can’t wait to catch up. On Hubby’s side, he also has a brand new grand-niece that we haven’t even met yet.
7. Going on a family day out to Whipsnade Zoo. When my cousin Moon‘s baby, Matej, is christened in June, our family will be together for the first time in a long time – my cousin Deb is coming over from Canada, and Moon and his lovely wife Miska are travelling from Slovakia. We’re planning a mahoosive day out, with picnic, at Whipsnade – I’ve probably spent hundreds of days out there, and it was a big part of our childhood, and that of my boys.
8. Talking of the christening, I’m going to make cupcake towers for Matej – blue and cream, with little sugar stars and cars… big mountains of them. Then I’m going to drink too much champagne, laugh with my wonderful brothers, giggle with my nieces and be all proud of my big strapping sons, home again in the midst of all their family.
9. Giving Ellie a cuddle. Ellie is my Mum’s old labrador, once black and glossy, now grey and a little stiff in the legs, but still gorgeous. It feels like she’s a million years old, although she probably isn’t. Still, she loves a cuddle (demonstrated here by Charlie) and rushes to meet us, bowling us over with our suitcases and bringing us her ‘baby’, a stinky old stuffed cat.
Ellie’s ‘best friend’, Harry, is an equally old ginger cat who loves Ellie with a passion – even though she often sits on him by accident -and drools excessively. He’d love to be cuddled more often, but frankly the drooling thing is a bit unpalatable. When we first see him, we forget the drooling and give him a cuddle – then when the drool starts, we put him down again. The worst bit is when he shakes his head and everyone gets a dribbly shower. Poor Harry.
10. Enjoying being a family again. Living apart from one another is hard. English Dad has a demanding job and isn’t a big texter or emailer. Things are often lost in translation and honestly, I’m not sure that we would have survived this long-distance family life for much longer. The boys can’t wait to be back with their Dad. Recently he texted me: ‘can’t wait to have you all here then I can annoy you all in person’. Me neither.