I am slowly, slowly and rather painfully dragging my corpse over the finishing line. I was last in France in the May half term, shortly after the Open Meeting regarding the closure of the school. I returned to England with heavy heart knowing the next couple of months were going to be intense and hard. It is quarter to one in the morning, my father's birthday now - Happy Birthday dearest Pa, 79 today, seeming 10 years younger. I have packing still to do, admin to finish off, piles of crap to put in order before departure tomorrow lunchtime. Dramas involving lost mobile phones, cars and garages, and the wrong contact lenses delivered put pay to my two 'clear' days for packing and organising. At least my Tatton Park plants are planted and the cat feeder organised. Card made and flowers picked for new baby at the pub. Not just any old new baby, mind - one that happened to be popping by for a pint. No,no, the publicans are new parents for the first time. Lily Jackson (old family name - not a hermaphrodite). New life, old life. 0 years, 79 years. Both just as precious.
My friend called from France and told me the weather's just come good. Thank God. Any more rain and I would be swinging by my neck from one of the many pine trees on offer in Les Landes. I truly believe this 'summer' is actually worse than winter. But I must be thankful for small mercies - we live on a hill, at least. And in Derbyshire, not Gloucestershire. Which reminds me, I should have phoned my friend who lives there just to check she's not drowning...
So off to France it is. It will be a stressful morning. Much shouting no doubt. But, come supper time, we will be bobbing on the briny (in a force 10 gale and torrential rain, according to the forecast). At least, though, we will be away. Off. On our hols. We will put the children to bed and enjoy our supper (as long as not too many people are throwing up around us, of course).
In France we shall celebrate some more birthdays - my Godson's 10th, G's 7th, my mother's 71st and my brother's 46th. We will raise glasses and open presents and light candles across the generations. Hopefully the sun will shine, we shall surf and sunbathe, we shall eat, drink and be merry. God willing.
So, au revoir, my friends, for now. I shall return before I know it, with another raft of summer memories for my 44th year of life. Another month older, my experiences subtly changing me. Refreshed, renewed. Ready to start again.