No, not mine: though I did calculate that as I intend to live until 100 I can wait until I’m 75 to get married again and still celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary.
No, it was the 25th wedding anniversary of one of my oldest and best friends, and for whom I was a bridesmaid half a lifetime ago. The weird thing was that having travelled down to Hove for the party, I saw another friend, Sue, there whom I hadn’t seen for 12 years – since her wedding – or in other words for almost half the length of time that Liz and Leslie had been married. I had (to my discredit) in fact forgotten that Sue was married: I had remembered being at a party in Swiss Cottage but thought it had been a birthday party! My excuse is that David and I had only just got together at the time so I was in the first flush of a love affair and probably thinking about little other than him.
Having had my hair done by Kim with the magic hair fingers (Hairport, Brampton) on the Saturday morning, I had headed down to Hove in a bit of a rush as I hadn’t left Brampton until about 11.30 a.m. In fact it made me realise how easy the journey is when not accompanied by children getting bored or hungry, or fighting or wanting to go to the toilet. I arrived at Liz’s brother’s and sister-in-law’s house in time to have a couple of glasses of wine with them before we got a taxi to the party: it was great to see them again as well, as it’s a good few years since I saw them. In fact I stayed longer than I had originally intended on the Sunday morning as I went to see some of Judith’s art work in a local house-turned-art-gallery: Hove has a brilliant scheme whereby people open their houses to the general public as mini art galleries, and exhibit their own artwork as well as other people’s.
It was another trip down south when I caught up with people I hadn’t seen for many years, and I started really missing the south again. I genuinely love Cumbria and feel very rooted up here, and fulfilled, but I still have many friends in the south. They have shared so much of my life, and I love the richness and intensity – even the excess, perhaps – of life in the south. Having said that one of the things I love about Cumbria is the connection with nature, something which just doesn’t happen even in the more southerly north, let alone in the built-up south.
Having caught up with all sorts of people in Hove, I headed back in a northerly direction, stopping in St. Albans, as the children and I had previously, to meet up with Eldfrid. Two hours (the amount of time on the parking meter!) passed rapidly as we were able to have a really good chat about children, men and music: something we might not have been able to do so easily if we had had children or men in tow!
From there I drove towards Cambridge to see Caroline and her family: it hadn’t been quite so long since I had seen them but children have a strange habit of going from being children to being young people overnight if you don’t see them very often! In fact I saw both my godsons this weekend: Michael, who is currently sitting his A levels, and Oliver, who is currently sitting GCSEs. Both have developed from children into young men; both are talented and I have my fingers tightly crossed for their futures. Before I know it they will be having children of their own, and my children will be the ones who are suddenly young adults.
I find something consoling and positive in this passage of time. I love seeing all these people developing and rather than making me feel old, I find I’m intrigued to discover what they’ll do next and my age becomes irrelevant. It’s also rather satisfying having had children older, as whilst friends’ children are now in their late teens and early twenties, mine being still young means that my friends and I can all see a spread of development. It’s difficult to explain and I don’t feel I’ve expressed myself well at all, but it brings a smile to my face when I think about them. 2-year old blonde Jonathon who ran up the path to give me a cuddle is now a 22-year old who is about to embark on a banking career in Edinburgh; Oliver who was almost dwarfed by a first birthday present of a Tigger is now a tall, slim 16-year old; and even my 11-year old Alex who was a baby who liked rolling over on to his front at the ridiculously early age of 12 weeks, is rapidly turning into a teenager with serious thoughts and questions alongside more childish behaviour.
Meanwhile I shall continue, no doubt, in my slightly schizophrenic attitude towards Cumbria and ‘the south’ but at least I now know that travelling 400 miles south for ‘just’ a weekend is feasible – so long as I leave the children behind!