A day can make a great deal of difference, and I am presently curled up on the sofa with Nathan, feeling a great deal less blue than I did this time yesterday... And on that note, a massive thank you to all the people who sent messages. Believe me, they spurred us both on!
I'm still unable to talk about the thing that was causing us the greatest amount of stress, but I can confirm that, following a meeting this morning in Central London, the issue has been satisfactorily resolved and both of us are hugely relieved. We popped back home to change and found a little bag of chocolates from Little Welsh Nathalie downstairs, who'd read the blog, and decided we needed a pick-me-up. It was a wonderful gesture which touched us enormously. We have both agreed that she is, without doubt, the best neighbour in carnation. Considerate, bohemian, beautiful AND Welsh!
We travelled to Spaldwick this afternoon to attend the funeral of Lisa's stepfather, Kim, who, it's rather sad to think, is the first of our wedding guests no longer to reside in the land of the living.
Spaldwick church is, of course, where we said goodbye to Lisa's son, George, my honorary Godson, and it was also where Lisa's brother, Will got married just a few weeks ago, the ceremony brought forward from August so that a very poorly Kim could attend the very happy day. It is therefore a church filled with hugely contrasting memories for Lisa and her family.
For me, it will remain the place where I watched hundreds of white balloons flying up into the heavens when George died, which remains one of the most beautiful images I've ever witnessed. The weather was remarkably similar today; beautiful, unbroken sunshine.
The funeral itself was very dignified and I'm thrilled to announce that we got to listen to a song by Doris Day and got to sing Jerusalem. What an astonishing hymn that is. It's the only hymn I know which makes me proud to be (almost) English and happy to acknowledge the Christian faith! Kim's sons Will and Ben read the eulogy, and his wife, Sally, was beautiful and brave throughout. Kim had already been interred at a brief ceremony in the morning, so, with the absence of a coffin, the funeral became a celebration of his life, which is perhaps how these things ought to be.
After the service, we went around the back of the church to stand quietly at Little George's memorial stone. Just as I bent down to touch it, I felt something wet and horrible splashing across my hand and waistcoat. A bird had opened its bowels above me and I'd taken a direct hit! I'm not sure if it was George or Kim having the laugh, but I took it to be a sign of a change in fortune. Being shat on by a bird is plainly a blessing... Or so they say!
We left the churchyard and headed across to the pub where the family had laid on THE most stunning selection of cakes, which included scones piled sky high with cream. Jam then cream. Is that Devon or Cornwall?
We made new friends and caught up with old ones. The Spaldwick community is a remarkably special one.
There was a wonderful moment when a plane, which might have been a Hurricane or some such, flew incredibly low, direct over the pub, no doubt on its way to RAF Brampton. Kim was ex-RAF, so we all took it to be a wonderful and serendipitous tribute.
We actually ended up going to the village of Brampton on our way home, largely because I'd taken a ludicrous wrong turning off the A14. Brampton is, of course, the childhood home of Samuel Pepys, and the house that his father owned still exists on the outskirts of the village.
I'd never visited it before, and it's a charming cottage with a stunning little blossom tree in the front garden. It felt rather magical to be standing there whilst the orange sun set.
We stopped off in Muswell Hill on the way home and found ourselves drifting around Sainsbury, where, at the checkout, we stood behind an old man, who was buying a cabbage and a "reduced to clear" pre-packaged selection of roasted vegetables for twenty pence. My response to the man probably says more about my current state of mind than anything I've written in this blog for weeks. The old man was plainly cooking for one, and, because he seemed to be friendlily (and somewhat hopefully) waving at everyone in the shop, I decided that he was both lonely and poor... And nothing hits my buttons more effectively than that particular combination. Nathan, of course, pointed out that the bloke was probably heading home to his wife, thrilled with his bargain, and furthermore that he might have been waving at people in the shop because they were all his friends... I'd already vanished into a haze of pity for him.
...And for the next ten minutes, I'm embarrassed to report, I wept. I wept like a baby because of the old man. But I guess I wasn't really weeping for him. I was weeping for Sally and Abbie's Mum and all the other recently bereaved people who must be feeling lonely tonight. I was weeping with relief that Nathan is okay. Weeping because I've been holding so much stress inside for so long... And weeping for joy because hope has returned once again, and he's a very welcome visitor!