Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I am keenly conscious of my luck, in a myriad of ways. I don't want to sound like one of those mad sixties hippie types who look wide-eyed at flowers, as if in awe at the daisies, but I do sometimes find myself profoundly grateful for the opposable thumb. (Regular readers will know I bash on about them a lot, but really: the thumb, bloody miracle.)
Some days, I get more than my share of fortune, and this was one of those days. I had lunch in my favourite restaurant in the world, Sheekey's, at the oyster bar, which is perfect in every way. It is aesthetically beautiful, one of those kind of places that shouldn't really exist any more. It has the nicest and most proper waiters I ever saw. The food is delightful. The atmosphere, that imponderable thing that so many of the swanky places lack, is thick with loveliness, and history.
And, on top of that, I had the lunch with one of my favourite people in the world, my friend The Photographer, who is talented and clever and funny and filled with ideas, and who goes back with me all the way. He is elegantly dressed now, in dark suits and white shirts, but I remember the days when he was a punk with green hair.
(I have had some wonderful reunions, this trip, with some of the oldest friends, that pull of ineffable fondness and memories running between us, which no amount of time and distance can sever. Due to the galloping away of time, I still have not told you of the lunch on Tuesday, which was so glorious that I have to invent new words for glorious.)
The Cousin and I got back and decorated the tree with the children. It's a bit early, but it's a sweet tradition, so I can see it before I go back north. I am going at the crack of dawn tomorrow, so there was the sweet hugging goodbye. The small people always look sad when I go, which is a great compliment to an old lady like me.
So, it's the last night. I get so homesick by this time that I yearn for the hills like you yearn for a beloved, but at the same time I hate to leave this happy family. It's not The Waltons all the time; we have grumpy days, and moments of scratchiness, as all humans do. Sometimes there is a stand-off over the geography revision. But it is, at heart, a happy house, and I don't take that for granted for a single minute. They are my very dear relations, and I love them.
On the road for the next two days, so there will be a break in blogging. Quick Pigeon picture to make up for it. Very soon, we shall be back to Normal Service. You have been very patient and kind readers to put up with the rather patchy posts of the last weeks.
When she gives us this look, the children and I look at each other, and say, in tones of falling love and wonder: 'Oh, oh, little Pigeon face.' The Three-Year-Old even does an imitation of it. I am delirious to be going back to my little Scottish house, but I shall miss that.
PS. I always get a bit sentimental at times like this, so please forgive if this is in danger of bringing on adult-onset diabetes. I shall be suitable sceptical and quizzical once I get back to my desk, I promise.