Hello again. I’m enjoying the familiar comforts of early autumn – well-worn jumpers, crunchy leaves, you know the drill. I’ve been thinking about goals for the last quarter of the year and looking ahead to 2019. Here are a few of my favourite things from this month.
Now that Christmas and the new year are very much in sight, I’ve put together a list of my personal highlights from 2017. This year included difficulties, like losing our wonderful Grandad in September and our darling dog just a few days ago. But reflecting on positive experiences doesn’t take away their significance.
I’d love to hear about the best parts of your year too. Here are mine:
For sixteen days each year, my older sister and I are the same age. Today she turns twenty-five.
Family members often exclaim, ‘How did we get two girls so incredibly different?’
It’s easy to laugh about the broad categories we fall into.
October brought grey skies that turned pink at dinner time. Crunching leaves. Meals shared with family. It meant catching up with friends over mugs of tea after too many months, and smiling at thoughtful cards. Enjoying the scent of candles and the sweetness of the last bite of birthday cake. Anticipating what’s next.
Sam, my Grandad, passed away on Saturday. For the past few months, my family has been going through the raw, uncomfortable process of losing an important person. Grandad was witty, clever and always supportive. His steady presence was accompanied by a love of history, languages, golf and West Bromwich Albion F.C.
I miss – and will continue to miss – his stories. In April 2013, we stayed with relatives in Mumbles, a village at the far end of Swansea Bay that leads to the Gower Peninsula. I’ve written briefly about this place as home before. On this visit, like many previously, we walked around Oystermouth Castle. As my cousins played on a tire swing and Nanny looked across the bay, Grandad and I ventured through the trees. He gestured to the house where he and my great grandparents had lived in the 1950s, enthusiastically describing how he grew from a teen into a cheeky young man with a motorcycle. Before this he had lived in Ethiopia and afterwards he moved to Birmingham. In the early 1980s, his young family moved back to the Gower, where my Mum later met my Dad, an Oceanography student from Kent.
I recently visited Italy for the first time. I met my parents in Florence, where we stayed in a charming, convenient Airbnb for four nights (Friday to Tuesday).
I was excited about the culture but slightly apprehensive about what three coeliacs would eat in the land of wheat pasta and pizza. As with Amsterdam, I researched places beforehand and we managed well.
Here are some highlights from our trip.
Last June I moved back in with my Mum, Dad and our Labrador. I’d spent most of the previous four years away at university and working. Living at home has been good – sometimes great, occasionally frustrating. Here are a few things I’ve learned: