I've now been home for 5 days...feeling more normal after the jet lag and mostly back to my normal routine. In some ways it seems impossible to believe that I was ever there. That this time last week I was sitting on a blanket in Cotton Tree Park, by the Pacific, in 28 degree heat, with Esther & Alfie (my youngest Aussie nephew) and our friend Sue and her daughter. Ibis (which are like pigeons there) strutted around us, picking up bits & pieces with their beautiful curved black beaks....rainbow lorikeets screeched as they flew overhead...we drank iced Diet Coke and the air conditioning was on 'high' in the car. Today I took a long, blustery walk with Alice - it was 10 degrees on the hill - golden leaves twirled overhead and scrunched underfoot...the wind was so strong that I tied my woollen scarf tightly around my neck...and this afternoon as I took my break I had a hot cup of tea and ate a toasted crumpet with maple syrup! So different.
I always feel a little flat and low when I leave Esther and the children. We have such fun and I love the 'ordinary' things that we do. Every morning at 7.30am, I heard Esther's alarm go off and knew that the next sound would be the slap slap of two pairs of bare feet as my darling niece and oldest nephew (Scout & Kip) ran into my room with a cheery cry of 'Morning, Ray!!!' and a huge hug for me. Then breakfast, the school run, the daily chat with Tamino the rescued Princess Parrot who exercises by flying round the kitchen and alighting on the nearest shoulder, the cuddles with dear Clara Bow the one-eyed black pug & Peggy the beautiful black brindle Staffy, the chats about dinosaurs and sharks with adorable Alfie....and Esther, always Esther. The joy of seeing her first thing in the morning and last thing at night. The bliss of finally sitting beside her at the movies instead of just talking about films we've seen. The aching sides from laughing more than I ever do with anyone else, about the most ridiculous things. The luxury of not being 12,500 miles away. It's all very hard to leave behind.
But my beloved Paul was waiting at Arrivals and it was so good to see him, and my parents and youngest sister Lucy and toddler nephew, William...and, of course, darling little Alice. She gave me the cold shoulder for a couple of days & refused to sit on my lap...but she's now back to normal and curled at my feet as I write. That's my life - happy there, happy here but always slightly torn.
I hope everyone's having a great week, thanks so much for all your wonderful birthday wishes and comments. It means such a lot to me, truly. xoxo
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