I apologise for being a little quiet on the blog front lately – it's not that I don't have anything to tell you, more that I am always so busy doing what it is I'd like to tell you about that I never find the time to write the words!
Not long ago we reached a milestone when our second child, Charlie, reached the ripe old age of 21. He has attended a number of weekend parties to celebrate the same occasion for his university mates – they hire a house in some lovely countryside and enjoy time together chilling out and then dressing up in dinner suits for the evening, before cooking a slap-up meal to soak up the copious amounts of alcohol that seem to be consumed.
I know he would have loved to do this for himself too, but when we added up the people he wanted to invite, the numbers rose to a point where there was no way he (or we!) could afford it. We've settled on possibly a belated party in our garden in the summer (he's always been envious of his sister's August birthday) and a smaller family gathering on the day itself.
In fact, it reduced to just the four of us on the Saturday evening, as Billy was away snowboarding, and a second wave on Sunday when Charlie decided to make afternoon tea for my parents. He treated them to all the traditional sandwiches, freshly made scones with jam and clotted cream, and home-made Millionaire's Shortbread, and I did my bit with mini sausage rolls and one of my family-famous carrot cakes.
I know it was his special day so he shouldn't really have been the one in the kitchen, but he enjoys his creative cooking, and if I'm honest, likes to show off his skills! (And we are very happy to praise him in return for some delicious food…).
The evening before we took off into London to collect Bex from the Camden house she shares with three of her medical student friends, where we opened a bottle of bubbly and enjoyed the courgette cake she had made for Charlie's birthday. It sounds odd but tasted really nice, and as a budding doctor Bex likes to keep a healthy eye on what she eats, even if the icing was full of sugar!
Then we indulged in a cocktail or three at the stunning Booking Office bar in the restored St. Pancras station. It's a traditional station cafe with a difference – cathedral-like windows give it a grandeur matched only by the 29 metre long bar!
A jazz duo was playing and we could have stayed longer, but had booked a table for dinner in a French restaurant. It was a delicious meal, an evening where Charlie felt thoroughly spoilt and grown up – in fact, we all did.
Billy was sorry to miss it, especially the cocktails, as he has become a bit of an all-knowing oracle about fancy drinks lately. He has just got a job in our local TGI Friday's, and is learning the ingredients for about 100 different cocktails to become a certified barman and move from wearing the stripes you see in this photo to a waistcoat and stripy tie.
He loves talking to everyone and is practising throwing bottles in the air as he mixes the drinks! But instead he was away enjoying his first love – snowboarding.
And from this other picture you can see why he wasn't too upset at missing his brother's birthday – he and a friend hiked through the snow above the highest ski-lift to enjoy incredible powder snow that no one else had touched. It must have been an incredible feeling.
I was offered some discounted tickets last minute for La Boheme, performed 'in the round' at the Royal Albert Hall. It is the most beautiful building and it must be inspirational to perform within it.
Bex sang there once with her school choir so she particularly enjoyed watching a brilliant performance accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It was very moving and a lovely thing for us to do together.
The same weekend Charlie had a first of his own. Always a sportsman, he hasn't run in any races since his school sports days, preferring to play team sports. He's in his final year at the University of Bath and decided to take part in the city's half marathon to raise some money for charity.
He's in the middle of completing his dissertation and studying for final exams so didn't really train at all – I think he ran seven miles, once, the week before. Maybe it was all that courgette cake that gave him energy but something must have helped – he finished in one hour and 37 minutes, a creditable time for a first (and probably last!) attempt. He was proud to receive his medal.
So, these are just a few of the activities that have been keeping me busy. There are more exciting events coming up, but they will be another story to fill another blog. I'll be back as soon as I can!
In the meantime, enjoy the moment as much as you can, and take care.