(Three new leads, two new batteries, one new laptop, several trips to the Apple shop half an hour away, a motor accident and a forgotten parking charge later... and I am back.
Having had what should have been the perfect weekend.)
Friday 5th July.
Serena arrives with the mini-Viking and the psychopathic canine – and the German au pair – to stay for the weekend because we have no paying guests.
(A few hours later a youth football team rings to ask if they can have beds for Saturday night. Oh, go for it, Serena says.
We came home specially because you didn’t have anyone in the house, but we can make it work.)
Friday evening, I go to London to hear Alex singing in his new work choir, part of the City Music Society.
Then Alex and I, and our bikes, meet Rose on her train, back from post-GCSE work-experience in Bristol, having decided to be the one sensible and responsible member of the Atkins Family and become a doctor. To the deprived and homeless and developing world.
The big Viking has joined us.
Saturday 6th July.
The neighbours call round with fresh homemade lemon scones and thick clotted cream and lemon drizzle cake and wild strawberry jam.
Rose’s two friends from her choir school turn up for several days... and the youth football team turns out to be two football teams of at least twenty grown men smoking what Serena says is definitely weed at the bottom of the garden.
In completely-no-smoking-under-any-circs premises.
Go and sort them out, I plead with Shaun.
Go and sort them out, I beg the big Viking.
Someone go and...
Oh, someone just pour a beer instead.
And today, Sunday 7th
We go and collect the eggs for breakfast, the mini-Viking and I.
After spit-roast barbecued chicken lunch in the garden, we spend the best possible way to spend a midsummer Sunday afternoon, listening to Ben playing baroque and renaissance music in our parish church.
Even my father came downstairs and came to the church with us.
And then the orchestra come back to our garden for another barbecue.
What could be better than a weekend like that?
What could be better?
What could be better, than swinging among the beehives in the orchard?
What could be better, than collecting kittens in baskets?
What could be better… would be if Bink could have joined us. The one member of the family not here.
Instead of spending Saturday ringing all different members of the family except me, pleading with them to go and see her in Cambridge… when we’ve all got together here.
Because she can’t get on a bus.
(I would have gone to get her, if she’d rung me and asked!)
What would have been better would have been if the mini-Viking had cousins; had Bink’s children to play with, as she always dreamt they would, instead of a weekend with grown ups like us.
Instead of the mini-Viking only having dogs and cats and chickens to rampage with.
Instead of Bink never having any babies at all...