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In which we enjoy rose, red shoes and retrospective celebrations…

July 5, 2010
It’s been a busy couple of weeks, not least because last weekend we had to cancel birthday plans and visit my grandmother in hospital, who was very, very ill after surgery. To say the prognosis was very serious is a quite substantial understatement. And yet, against all the odds, and by the power of sheer bloody mindedness and A LOT of hope and love she has improved dramatically in the last couple of days, which is both miraculous, and incredible.  And so, so wonderful.
At one point last Saturday there was 18 people at the hospital visiting her – basically her entire family, with children and grandchildren aplenty – and more people than I had managed to rustle up for my birthday party! An impressive turn out, we thought. It was incredibly sad and ovewhelming, but at the same time it felt like the most special and profound experience to all be

Beautiful evening light across the Cotswold countryside...

there together, with her. The hospital was peaceful and calm, and the nurses quiet and kind – she had floor to ceiling windows behind her bed, and at one point I remember describing the beautiful June sun filtering through the trees outside, and the early evening light making everything glow – I was really taking a bit of artistic licence with what was in actuality just a car park… but it felt good talking to her about the world outside. Sometimes it’s the normal things in the most abnormal cicrumstances that keep you going.

So back to London, and my grandmother has LOVED hearing about the elephants we’ve been finding all over the city (though they’ve been rounded up now and can be found in Kensington Gardens). Part of a Save the Elephants campaign, giant statues of sitting and standing elephants have been turned into beautiful artistic statements; here’s a selection of my favourites.

And I celebrated my 29th birthday, the first since YB has moved in, and it was lovely to actually hear him say Happy Birthday to me when I awoke on Saturday morning, rather than via a text message. He spoilt me good and proper, and got up early, headed out for flowers and croissants, and we had breakfast in bed and presents galore. It was gorgeous.

Then a week later my sister turned 27 and we headed to the park for a picnic of sublime proportions – duck and champagne pate, dressed crab, Pie D’Angloys cheese, feta and tomato tabboulleh, Prosecco, Milano salami, artisan bread, balsamic vinegar crisps, strawberries, chocolate and Portugese custard tarts. The sun shone, we giggled and shared presents, and then headed to the cricket to watch the 20/20. It was a perfect day, of boiling English sunshine, friends and family, pints of Pimms, the sound of willow on leather, cheering fans and happy laughter. Oh and some rather sub-standard cheerleaders which kept the boys amused and made the girls laugh.

The last couple of weeks have reminded me about the importance of family, and of those friends who are really there for you when you need it. Being able to find laughter and happiness, amid some painful and challenging times,has been great, and has given me strength. I feel quite blessed. YB especially has been a rock – driving me down to Cheltenham at a moment’s notice, cooking dinner for me and my two sisters when we returned from hospital, handing out double his usual quota of cuddles, and distracting me with World Cup trivia and updates on his broad beans and potatoes. Knowing you can rely on people when things are hard has got to be one of the most important things in life.

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