It’s been dreich day – only the Scots word will do – grey and overcast from the start with drumming rain settling into a steady dampness that doesn’t quite feel enough to require a waterproof but seeps gradually into cold insistence.

I spent most of the afternoon tramping muddy paths through the forest, catching up on news and plans and thoughts with my older son. We bent our way through a re-creation of a World War One trench and balanced on the edges of thick viscous puddles to preserve his insubstantial footwear. I’d walked the same trail with his father and brother yesterday but this time there were no shafts of sunlight falling photogenically through the pines to distract us; picturesque views were masked by the drabness of the weather.

But I felt so content and thankful for this straightforward pleasure of walking and talking.

On the way back, we bought apple sauce (no chutney to be found in the little shop) for us all to eat with slices of spicily peppered pork pie followed by warming mugs of tea. Another pleasure.

wp_20170305_12_39_46_pro-3(Who needs a birthday cake when you can have a birthday pork pie?!)

Yesterday I drove with my younger son to fetch his brother, a scenic journey through typical English countryside of rolling fields and over the 40p toll bridge (with its smiling attendants) for the flooded River Trent. We listened to his choice of music and he drew my attention to the beautiful words of a poem at the end of ‘Sun of Jean’ by Loyle Carner where a mother refers to her ‘scribble of a boy’. We relished in a joint love of rhythm and words well used. I asked his advice about an issue I need to resolve at Boys’ Brigade and he was able to help me.

And I valued the sharing of ideas and opinions and information.

Today we have celebrated their dad’s birthday a day early (before they have to return to jobs and lectures). The boys, knowing their father so well, have bought cards that only the three of them would understand the joke, laughter filling the room. My beloved has read with appreciation the message painstakingly written in the card from his father in law, knowing the time and effort involved to do it, as well as in wrapping his present. Personal gifts, all lovingly chosen with his preferences and personality in mind, he has enthusiastically unpacked and will duly treasure. And the rest of us have enjoyed the afternoon-long smile on his face.

Tonight there will be takeaway curry and a film as we all sit round the long purple sofa. It doesn’t really matter how good the film is; the fact that movies are our family’s thing is what matters.

Our one indulgence of this celebration weekend away will be the hot tub: out on a wooden deck overlooking the woods, foaming with warm volcanic bubbles, lit by a slowing changing rainbow, and preferably with a contrasting outside atmosphere of cold, rain, or preferably both. But much as I love the decadence of the hot tub, the real joy will be in doing it together as a family. Yes, there may be wine shared, something fizzy quite possibly (all in suitably safe plastic glasses I hasten to reassure you), but it is the joint experience, the building of memories that is the true gift.

This weekend has been all about the blessing of togetherness


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