Our first floor flat is quite small. And it becomes unbelievably small when three active children are slotted into the equation. It's also quite warm all year round. I'm sure the girls think it has something to with being old. I believe it’s because we’re closer to the sun. The girls feel the warmth, even during the winter months. So we
Then I suggest, “Let’s walk to the shop,” (only a mile across country).
“We could buy lollies.”
Did three girls ever don their shades and sunhats more quickly? And I speak as someone who has just watched a considerable slice of the Olympics. So I know how to gauge speed.
Trips to the shop seem to take no time at all in their company. All the constant chatter, the running ahead (them, not me) and the extras like choosing an apple that’s fallen from the tree near the railway bridge, setting it still in the middle of the road, and seeing who can kick theirs over the humpback bridge with the fewest attempts.
Two ‘Pop-ups’ and a ‘Twister’ later, and we’re plodding our way home. Our group becomes straggled due to an almost microscopic blister on Iris’ toe. I hang back with her, offering reassurance that her foot will be intact when we get home. It seems to work, for a while, until she complains of stitch. She’s holding her left side, at a point around her hip.
“I don’t think you get stitch there."
“You can get stitch anywhere,” she says. We walk on in silence. Well, I walked, she limped, slightly.
Then, at the end of an enjoyable few hours, dad came to pick them up. Normally when we say goodbye, it’s in the knowledge that they will be just a couple of miles away. But this was us saying goodbye before they crossed the channel to France. An altogether different prospect.
The view from the gîte appears to be quiet and still. Rather like our days without the girls in them.
They were hugged, we were hugged. We did ‘high fives’ (several times) and we told them how much we love them. Then, just when I thought the old heartstrings couldn’t tighten much more, Imogen looked me square in the eye and asked a question in such a way that only a promise would suffice as an answer.
“Will you still be here when we get back?”
All three stared, waiting for my response.
Ouch, that really tugged, young lady. But who knows what though processes are taking place inside such a young head? This is the girl who asked me to print a photo of Monty, their dog, so she can see him when she's away. I had to print another, of all three girls, to pin up next to his basket, so he could see them, too.