April Passing

Well, many mañanas have come and gone since I last wrote, and I feel more than two weeks tireder and older than I did two weeks ago – if you know what I mean. The dreaded son-house-moving deadline savaged me like an unhappy bear, and the horror of it all passed in a rushing slow-motion wave of disorganisation and aching limbs. But, as with all unpleasant things, the only thing to do was to Just Do It until it was Done, and the usual niceties of human life, such as sleeping and eating, simply had to wait.

And of course it got done, Just In Time. And of course Nothing important or useful Can Be Found in the scree of disintegrating boxes and carrier bags that adorn every square centimetre of floor space in my son’s new abode. And of course we left there on the Saturday morning to go to meet my daughter and granddaughter (far too early but, in the end, not really early enough) at the airport, with an awful sense of incompletion and worry about Things Undone.

And of course, despite sleep deprivation, and full-to-bursting aeroplanes, and the endless call of the Demanding Baby, we made it back safely to the haven of Blanchetière, where, after a few blissful days of slow recovery with nothing more important to worry about than backed-up septic tanks and mad llamas, The Universe conspired to come up with a few other things to fill our minds and distract us from our erstwhile Pressing Concerns, such as volcanoes and cancelled flights.

Yup – the cloud of volcano ash arrived over East Midlands on Thursday just in time to ground the plane that would have flown to Limoges and flown back again with my offspring on board. But, thanks to Simon’s strange habit of sleeping wearing earphones attached to the radio, he got the news early, and we were Very Prepared, and cannily managed to rebook the cancelled flight for Saturday, before that flight got totally full. And feeling smug at our swiftness, and delighted at the unexpected extension to the family visit, we set about enjoying the next couple of days of enforced relaxation. As my son mentioned, the extra days seemed somehow more relaxed because they weren’t part of the ‘planned’ holiday, and therefore didn’t carry that spoiling sense that they Must Be Enjoyed. We could do Nothing-In-Particular, and not feel guilty at wasting the precious minutes of a rare and special event.

So Thursday and Friday passed pleasantly in a pool of sunshine, birdsong, and interested speculation about the implications of never-ending volcanic eruptions, sprinkled with the delights of Delightful-Baby-watching, and scurrilous games of beer-and-peanut accompanied Scrabble. Simon planted potatoes and other Healthy Things, and Delightful Baby learned to say cat and dog and to sing three syllables of ‘Up Above…’ from the frequently heard lullabic renditions of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

And then our considered family hypothesis that ‘No Way was that volcanic ash cloud gonna be gone in a couple of days’ started to take on the semblance of Actual News, and after clarifying that Son and Daughter would not really be willing to just sit-it-out and wait for the world to start flying again (She was starting a brand new teaching job today, and He had no leave left and would lose pay for every extra day he stayed here) we started researching alternative travel plans. So as soon as Ryanair announced that they were cancelling all flights until Monday at the earliest, we were ready to jump into action and book the various bits of a Nightmare Journey home, which entailed Simon driving them overnight on Saturday (when Demanding Baby would be dormant) to a 6.00am ferry from Dunkirk, and delivering them to Dover station to catch the first of four crowded trains which would eventually deposit them, sleepless, witless and luggageful into the waiting hands of Daughter’s boyfriend at Derby station.

Which brings us to now. Simon is on his long way home after sleeping a night at his parents’ house in Dover. Daughter has left Dormant Baby with the Mother-in-law-to-be/unpaid childminder and started her new job this morning, as if Nothing Ever Happened, and Son is, much to his frantic employer’s relief, back at work earning not nearly enough to fund his monthly outgoings for his new home.

And I am sitting here writing this, thereby avoiding all the waiting tasks that lurk like yobbish schoolboys on the corner of my consciousness. The horse box still needs to be emptied and cleaned in the aftermath of Lenny’s fateful journey here nearly a month ago. All the bedding and towels from the family visit need to be washed and dried in readiness for the next visitors to our humble home (which is not as simple as it sounds because the septic tank issue makes the washing machine emptyings back up through the shower drain to flood the bathroom floor with stinkiness, and the soak-away from the kitchen sink is not soaking away, but springing up in smelly little rivulets through invisible holes in the tarmac in the front yard just outside the door). The trench-digging exploration of the back garden needs to be continued in the search for the elusive septic tank, so that it can be emptied. The llamas need to be fed and watered. The dogs need to be walked. Mucho animal poo needs to be collected. The bedroom furniture needs to be rearranged so that it no longer revolves around Demanding Baby’s Cot.

And the hay bales on the dodgy bit of the upper barn floor need to be investigated for more possible kittenhood, following my sighting yesterday afternoon of a local stray cat heading into its depths carrying a mewling ball of fur in her mouth, which sounded not at all like a big lunch-time rodent, and very much indeed like another small addition to the World of Cats otherwise known as Our House.

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