Daughter #3 left for her new school very early this morning (at least 20 minutes before her older sisters, who both go to the same place) looking unrecognisably smart and grown up in her new uniform and shiny shoes. Watching her go, I experienced one of those crystal-clear flashbacks that occur often in books but rarely in real life, of watching her walk down the lane to nursery in the autumn that she was 3 years old, wearing her purple coat and holding her daddy's hand, looking up at him. It caught me so off-guard I had to blow my nose hastily on a tea towel.
So the plan was that the moment the daughters were all out the door I'd be up to my office like a rat up a drain, typing away frantically and trying to get down all the fabulous, sparkly words and ideas that have glittered in my head all summer when I've been far away from a computer. Instead I spent the first hour wistfully sorting washing and feeling teary-eyed and nostalgic for the happy weeks of freedom from routine and time spent with lovely people. This year we timed our own prestigious Family Olympics to coincide with the similarly-named event in London, although as a member of Team GB I have to report that we didn't do nearly as well as the official team, despite my own gold-medal performance in the Sock Sorting event. After that, with scarcely a washing-machine-cycle's turnaround, we went off to St Ives, where the evenings were warm, the sea was clear and the surfers were plentiful. We'd chosen a house right in the centre of the town so the teenagers could come and go (and stay in bed) as they pleased, which seems to be the Shape of Holidays to Come. Am fleetingly sad about the passing of the sandcastle-building years, but on balance think that the going-out-in-the-evening and drinking-wine-on-the-beach years will have much to recommend them.
Back home again, the days settled into an easy routine of waking early and writing before the daughters roused themselves from their beauty sleep. I've been writing something a bit different which has been both challenging and fun, which I usually find a contradiction in terms. (Not sure whether the fun element was due to writing in bed, which adds a certain holiday atmosphere. Also, on the downside, a certain amount of toast crumbs. Impossible to write without devouring mini-breakfast, to boost creative energy levels.) The afternoons were given over to entertainment and adventure, and a good deal of extremely messy baking, so that the kitchen has become so covered in drifts of icing sugar it looks like Miss Havisham's dining room. It was only the prospect of cleaning it that finally sent me hurrying upstairs to blow the dust off the computer and locate the 'on' switch... (after which I spent a pleasant hour browsing the internet for new shoes - which are surely an essential compensation for the end of summer and onset of autumn?)
Hope everyone else has had a lovely summer and made a few more memories to add to the precious store we each carry with us. If there are any that you'd like to share I'd love to hear them...