I wake up. The light is streaming in because we never shut our curtains up here. It is half past six and I turn over and drift back to sleep. After years and years of dawn starts with small children and work and commuting, is there a greater luxury?
As usual Ian must have got up without waking me because when I wake again it is a quarter to eight and he is not in the bed. From downstairs I hear the sound of him in the kitchen. He will have already made tea and porridge for his father and now the kettle is boiling again and he is making a cup of tea for me. Double luxury!
It is quiet here. On a school morning faintly from the farm next door will come the sound of mothers calling and car doors slamming. The cockerel might be heard crowing from the kitchen garden. But there is no traffic, there are no trains or planes, just birds squabbling on the feeders and the cat calling meekly yet insistently for more food (not birds!).
Breakfast is pretty much always eggs. I love eggs and we have so many of our own it would be foolish not to take advantage: boiled, poached or scrambled, with deep yellow yolks and so fresh they poach perfectly every time. I can't start the day without three cups of incredibly weak tea. You might ask whether I could manage with one cup of tea with some colour in it but I like my weedy tea, drunk from an Emma Bridgewater mug. Why does a particular mug matter I wonder? The shape of these and the colours are so satisfying.
The day whizzes by in a blur of jobs. In spring I start by going down to the greenhouse, checking which seeds are showing, watering, taking lids off propagators, just looking at my plants. I never used to be able to raise things from seed and have only been at all successful in the last year or so. I didn't realise how closely you need to watch your seeds. Every day visits are good, twice is ideal.
Then there is the ordinary domestic round: bread to be made, washing to be done, laundry to be sorted. At this time of year the garden keeps shouting at you when you go inside. Weed me, it calls, you know you want to. If I don't spend a couple of days a week in the garden in spring everything disappears under a tide of dandelions, creeping buttercup and Good King Henry.
By mid morning I might go down to our local village to buy my father in law a newspaper and put some letters in the post. It is only a mile and a half away but it is a very steep three quarters of a mile down our hill and just as steep up on the other side. On the rare days when we feel we have time to walk, it will take two hours to do the round trip, including the shopping time. Jumping in the car, the whole trip takes about twenty five minutes. One of the things I love about having my children's dogs to stay (and this week we have my son's black labrador for the week) is that it makes me more inclined to walk and, by combining walking the dog with going shopping, slows me down, puts the rhythm of life back to the rhythm of walking feet. There are bluebells just coming into flower now by the paths and stitchwort showing its white simple stars.
Lunch. Earlier than I would choose to suit the earlier rising of Ian and his father. Lunch usually involves home made bread and ham from our local shop, or cheese, or, if you are me and trying to eat less cheese in the hope of losing a bit of weight, hummus. We eat our meals at the table now to suit my father in law but sometimes I take mine outside. If it is warm enough I sit on a bench in the sun. If the sun is shining and a breeze is blowing I take my lunch and a book to the cedar greenhouse and sit in the surprising warmth all by myself.
What happens in the afternoon? It is a mystery: emails, work things, organising and family things, more gardening. If it is a Monday or a Thursday we take my father in law down to the village for his meetings with his new friends where he plays Bingo and tells his stories. They have been very welcoming. How many people are making new friends at ninety three?
The afternoon rushes to a close. We eat early again. I am learning how to extend the limited repertoire of what I can cook for my father in law. For quite a while I tried to make only food I knew he would like. He loves his food and meal times are the highlight of his day so presenting him with strange, foreign food seemed unkind. Eventually the relentlessness of meat and two veg cooking began to drive me nuts. I love cooking. I love recipe books and making something interesting and thinking about it and stirring and tasting and adjusting. Very recently I have started to try to produce a day or so in a fortnight when I cook something which is a pleasure to cook. Sometimes I give it to him too and he eats it without complaint (but then he would!). Sometimes I make him something different. Food is such a big part of our lives, ours and his. How hard to get it right. When Ian and I first married and brought two families together I remember very vividly that cooking a roast dinner was one of the ways you could make everyone happy when interests and history and family traditions would all conspire to set people running along different lines of expectation.
Evening. My father in law watches his own television. We perhaps watch more than we used to. I am not sure. Mostly we read and blog and read blogs if you are me, and do other forms of computer based things if you are Ian. The phone rings often with parents and children and siblings on the other end. There is yoga and Welsh class. Now that the evenings are longer there is the delight of walking up the hill and along the ridge. This week there is a black dog sleeping on her bean bag and sourdough bread coming out of the oven, smelling wonderful and tasting better.
Night. The fire is burning. The lamps would be low if they could be but they are not oil lamps, they are low energy bulbs. I am thinking about daffodils for next year and what to feed my family and friends who are coming over the next days and weeks. It should be time for bed but I am likely to get my second wind. I am reading Beth Chatto and gardening with bob dylan. I am on my second glass of wine. I must go to bed. Tomorrow there is weeding to be done.