Having just returned from London via Cambridge I have two days at home during which I field the aftermath of Who Do You Think You Are? Live. I have to respond to a Twitter storm following my talks and books launches. I have been added to the pool of lecturers for the Unlock the Past Cruises, there are articles to write and I have more volunteers to add to my pool for the 1946-1969 memories project.
Then a sad journey to the Isle of Wight for a friend’s funeral. As we travel across the Somerset levels there is a strange light in the sky. It resembles a truncated rainbow with a greenish tinge. It turns out that this is the aurora borealis. Having travelled to Lapland and missed it there, here it is not a hundred miles from home. We stop for sustenance. The restaurant is almost empty. Without a hint of sarcasm the maitre de says ‘I will see if we can find room for you’. Next morning we arrive very early for the ferry to the island. So early in fact that we get on the one that leaves nearly two hours before our intended sailing. This is the ferry beloved of large lorries. In the interests of fuel economy we are driving my very tiny car, which is dwarfed by surrounding vehicles. As we drive on to the ferry the news comes that my awaited grandson may be putting in an early appearance. So in the paradox that is the circle of life I find myself saying goodbye to a friend as my daughter is in labour.
The exciting news of Edward Leo’s arrival reaches us by evening. So whilst fireworks announced Lucy’s arrival, Edward’s was heralded by the aurora. We make it back home from the island at 1.30am. For someone who almost never sees 11pm this is a big deal in itself. Nine hours and several messages to workmen later, we are heading north to meet the latest addition to the family. He is of course completely gorgeous and I spend a lovely couple of days getting to know him. An added bonus is when his auntie, uncle and cousin come visiting and I get the chance to cuddle two grandchildren at once!
And the building works? Pales into insignificance really. There was the occasion when I had four different sets of workmen in the house at the same time. Four men plastering various walls, the house painting man, the Rayburn fixing man and the plumber removing what used to be an outside tap but which was now in the conservatory. Weird one this – removed at the request of the plasterer so he could plasterboard over it and make a nice flat wall. Having organised this, said plasterer needs access to water so he can plaster whilst I am out. ‘Do I have an outside tap?’ Well, I did have an outside tap. Unfortunately one of the various workmen here while I was away meeting Edward inadvertently (at least I hope it was inadvertently) turned the freezer off. Now the conservatory is almost complete I have to run the gauntlet af kitchen fitters. One day I shall get my house back and I promise we shall get back to historical posts soon!