Has someone speeded up time? What have I been up to since I saw you last? Loads and loads, here is a whistle stop tour.
Drove to Devon (car just does the three hundred mile journey by itself these says while I snooze on the back seat, I wish).
Spent a week volunteering with the National Trust helping to decorate Killerton House for Christmas.
Good things: great company, good food, fabulous instruction from the fabulous Sarah Pepper so that I now know how to make wreaths and swag mantelpieces. I am not an experienced or talented flower arranger. Every day after a few minutes of working away on my own I looked at what I was doing compared to everyone else and felt such a rush of shame and embarrassment that I contemplated just sneaking out and not coming back. Yet every day when I persevered, following the guidance I had been given, not giving up, remembering that with Christmas decoration "more is more", whatever I was working on turned a corner and suddenly came out right. Thank you Sarah!
However, bad things: sleeping in a bunkhouse, especially on the top bunk. There is nothing like knowing that you can't go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without waking the world to make you desperate to go and quite unable to sleep. Actually that was the only bad thing, that and maybe a bit much hanging about from time to time. On the whole, good week.
Drove to South Wales to see older daughter and family and to celebrate grandson's fifth birthday. Spent the afternoon playing "What kind of dinosaur am I?" with Joseph and his four year old cousin, then drove home taking four and a half hours for a three hour journey because the police had closed the A470. Home, yoga, choir, Manchester, took my mother's oldest friend out to lunch because she's lovely, attempted to think about Christmas and failed utterly.
At the beginning of the week Ian drove us to Chepstow to pick up my brother and then on down to Devon again where we stayed with my sister and used the fact that there were two of us for two wheelchairs to spend time with my brother and my father together. Lovely and exhausting and full of the mixture of pleasure in their company and deep sadness as dad moves slowly on the hard road laid out for him by Motor Neurone Disease. Came home, Ian doing all the driving again, dropping my brother back home on the way. Fell into bed, slept fitfully, dreaming uncomfortable dreams.
And then a couple of days with daughter in law and three and a half month old grandson staying.
Such a smiley baby, beaming with delight when Ian blows raspberries for him. Lovely to see my daughter in law so clearly knowing her baby, responding to his little noises, the expressions which chase across his face, with love and laughter and sensitivity. He is growing so fast that I have had to change the length of the little cardigan I am knitting for him.
It all feels a blur, of ageing and illness and growing and new life and driving and hurtling towards Christmas. Tonight I will stop, have a bath and lie quietly in the hot water, sit by the fire and breathe, listen to the flames as the logs burn in the stove and be still. And then maybe I will sleep a deep dreamless sleep in my own bed with Ian beside me.