I only slept for three hours last night. The late-night journey to Gatwick woke me up rather comprehensively, the cold returned with a vengeance and I was sleeping on Meriel's sofa bed right next to a window which was a little chilly.
I should have looked around for another blanket or something, but I was already under about three layers. I kept remembering my Grandmother, one Christmas Eve just before she was engulfed by senility, when she appeared in my bedroom on an hourly basis appearing throughout the entire night. The cycle went something like this. Grannie would walk into my room and turn on the light, saying "are you warm enough?" I'd say "I'm fine thank you, Grannie." She would vanish and return again with a blanket from the airing cupboard, which she would throw at me... And so it continued throughout the night. The pile of things on top of me grew and grew, and as Grannie's airing cupboard slowly ran out of blankets, so the ever stranger things started appearing... Valances, towels, net curtains... By the morning I must have looked like a table at a jumble sale!
We had breakfast at Hilary and Rupert's before heading off to Michelham Priory, where we did all sorts of wonderful things like dressing up in Medieval clothing, shooting arrows at a cardboard deer, and bouncing up and down on a four-person seesaw. There was a pepper and squash soup for lunch, an Iron Age village to explore and a wonderful craft room for the kids, where Jeanie made a Christingle and Will made a Tudor coin out of clay.
We went back to Hilary and Rupert's for a lovely roast meal (I provided the vegetarian gravy for the half of us there who didn't eat meat) and the evening descended into a fabulous nostalgia-fest. We've known each other for 21 years; more than half of our lives. I think that means something very special and if anything, our friendships have grown over the years. We've supported each other through good and bad times and genuinely feel like a rather surreal, but functioning extended family.
I drove home to London through the night. It was thankfully a far speedier journey than my trip down, with an average speed of 57 miles per hour!