Life picked up again. We had a hideous parting from No1 at the beginning of term. Leaving his new home, existence and worst of all baby brother behind was agony for all of us, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when he sat on the edge of his bed with No1 in his arms to say goodbye to him. Typically he was wonderful about the whole miserable business, but I defy anyone to argue that boarding is a natural state.
No2 started at her new nursery. Back in London she had begun her education in the back rooms of church on the hard shoulder of the A12 in Chiswick. It was lovely, but dark within and noisy without and just very London. I consulted with the oracle, New Best Friend, and she recommended a place two villages away with a hugely improbably six word long name spelt using 14 different letters – in itself, something of a literacy test. I went and had a look and fell in love with it: how could I not? It was on a farm and had two pigs in the grounds, called Bubble and Squeak. Lambs, I was told, sprang everywhere at the appropriate times of year. Walks in the wood were an everyday occurence, the food was homemade on site and the staff:child ratio was phenomenally high. It was warm and loving and felt like fun – and best of all they were firm believers in reading, writing and playing, both indoors and out. There and then I signed on the dotted line and we never really looked back: I missed her hideously but No2 thrived and talked endlessly about her new friends and teachers. I loved that she was so happy, and never got over the view from the back door of gently rolling slopes and big skies. No2 of course grew up with it and didn’t really notice, but I was pretty much blown away – literally and metaphorically – on a regular basis.