Homeward bound

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Yesterday we visited our old home town Twickenham in south-west London. We were collecting my daughter who’d been staying with an old schoolfriend, David had an appointment and the boys came along too. Now, I was brought-up to be punctual, plan a journey, leave with time to spare, but over the years, being married to my laid-back husband and with three children in the mix, this has gone totally out of the window. Why leave in plenty of time when you can leave late, have a stressful journey, have to phone ahead to apologise for being late, have back seat drivers telling you quite authoritatively (although they’ve never driven, are too young to drive) that changing lanes in slow-moving traffic on a motorway is pointless?

Well, we eventually arrived, dropped David off (he was the one who was late), then had a little drive round past the children’s old school, the park where they used to play, the streets where we lived. It’s a strange feeling being in a place that’s so familiar but is no longer home.

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What keeps us connected to it are our friends – those lovely people we’ve known since the children were babies. We’ve seen our children grow up together, been through the trials and tribulations of life for many years. I do miss these friends and it is so good to see them, to slip into that familiar, easy conversation. And seeing the children – how they’ve all grown! There’s nothing quite like seeing kids you haven’t seen for a while to realise how time is rushing by.

We had a lovely day, chatting, laughing, catching up, making plans to see each other again soon, then it was time to return to our new home. It’s taken us all varying amounts of time to feel rooted here but we’ve made new friends, the children are thriving at their new schools, we have fabulous countryside and views around  us, we’ve put our stamp on this house and have a garden to play and grow in. It’s good to be home.

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Walking the dog across the fields this morning in the warm, slightly misty, spring sunshine – skylarks singing, the sea glistening in the distance – was an uplifting start the day. I still walk with my daughter to the local village primary school, even though she is in her final year and old enough to walk on her own. It’s lovely to have that time together, just the two of us, and she doesn’t seem to mind. She’ll be travelling by train to secondary school with her brothers in September, so these are precious times.

It couldn’t be more of a contrast with my previous life in SW London and the walk to school alongside busy roads, nose-to-tail traffic, planes overhead, everyone rushing. Don’t get me wrong, I loved aspects of my life in the big smoke but this is where I now feel rooted and in my natural place. Being a forces baby, my childhood was peripatetic. We rarely lived in one place for more than a couple of years but all of the RAF stations where we lived were either by the sea or in the countryside and I think that may be why I feel so comfortable in this environment. Perhaps my children will hotfoot it back to the city when they’re older!

Our rescue dog, Cassie (a lurcher), would have hated London. She was a bag of nerves when we adopted her two years ago and still gets spooked by lots of traffic or loud noises. The wide, open spaces here suit her perfectly. I can let her off the lead in the arable fields and she runs and runs in big circles round me, the growing crops tickling her tummy. If dogs could laugh with joy, she’d be doing it.


David has been rebuilding one of the retaining walls in the garden this week and uncovered a slow worm curled up under a rock. We found quite a few last year, mainly in and around the compost heap, but this is the first sighting this year. He also came a cross a large toad and narrowly avoided dropping a rock on its head. Luckily, he managed to transfer it to the side of the pond where it shook itself off and dived in.

This slow worm had a rude awakening.
This slow worm was discovered curled up asleep under a rock.

I’m busy potting on seedlings whenever I have the time to do it. I’m awestruck that tiny seeds (some too small to handle individually – you just have to shake them over the compost and hope they spread out) can grow into miniature plants with leaves, delicate stems and tendril-like roots. Transferring these fragile seedlings into pots can be tricky, especially when they’ve wrapped their roots around each other. I’ve found that the wrong end of a pencil is the best tool for teasing them out of their trays and gently easing them apart. Over the next few weeks, these babies will grow into larger, more robust plants and then we can plant them out into the garden where they can really get their roots down.