I am exhausted, so sincerest apologies if this blog entry makes little or no sense, or if it's chockablock with grammatical errors.
We've spent the day in a little East Sussex village called Ditchling, the home of my cousin Matt. We don't see a great deal of my extended family, which, after today, is something I'd very much like to change.
I sat down to a piano covered in framed photographs of my grandparents, aunts and cousins; all faces I recognised, some whom I'd not seen or thought about for years. The memories floating around the dinner table stretched back to my early childhood. It is wonderful to put your own life in context from time to time. They say that blood is thicker than water and at a certain point, when the pace of life begins to settle, this becomes an incredibly important thing. I can see, within the younger generation, kids who remind me of me: and why wouldn't they? They're cut from the same piece of cloth.
We did an enormous quiz and sat for hours around a piano harmonising pop songs and carols, just as we had twenty and thirty years ago with the same number of people, just a subtly changing cast list... I am no longer the spotty adolescent, with a nose too big for my face, who feels self-conscious and gauche.
Interestingly there are no very old or very young people in the family at the moment: we're at that part of the cycle. There were no old ladies gnashing their teeth in the corner, and no babies or young children doing the same thing on the old people's laps, so the conversation flowed without any need to pay homage to those who tend to demand more attention!
All in all, a thoroughly lovely day and the first, I hope, of many similar occasions.