We went to Marrakesh a few weeks back for a husband-and-wife break; you know that thing you always think you should do, but barely get round to? The logistics of leaving the children for a few days becomes mind-numbing but with help we did it and grabbed four days together in Morocco. It was unlike anywhere I have been, a riot of colour and activity. We stayed in an oasis of a hotel right in the heart of the Medina and lounged around by the rooftop pool and I marvelled at the fact that there was sun and palm trees (!) and I had him with me. It was such a treat. Modern life has conspired against us and his absence has become the norm due to his job. We got time to simply be.
Meanwhile I returned home to a well-established midwinter and the prospect of Christmas. I go into denial I must admit, the sheer organisational planning that is required and of course the commercialism gets me every time. I write this every year. I then decide I have to just get on board the proverbial 'Polar Express' and go with it. I CAN hear the bells.
I've started running again; I always did love running this time of year. Early morning frost and crisp air, there is nothing like it. And there is no question that running - if joints allow - makes me fitter than anything else. I ache now though, seems that running at 42 is harder than it used to be at 32 when I first started.
It was a year ago now that we moved back into our house after the mammoth never-ending house build. That suggests that we are well past it but actually in some ways the build process lingers; there's still a bag of sand in our driveway and the decorators were only here last week finishing off. It seems to go on and I am still seeing things that need doing. We have lost steam though for sure. Living here is a pleasure and I count myself lucky all the time that we renovated this house and had the bravery to stick with it, complete with glass wall on a four hundred year old house. Trust your gut.
Last week there seemed to be an unrelenting need for me to find a velvet blazer; as if the absence of one in my life has been a long-held misdemeanour. After a Black Friday frenzy - when really I should have been buying gifts - I found one and it now languishes waiting for a Christmas outing. This is all because when I heard Alexandra Shulman interviewed about being editor of British Vogue she said if there is one thing you should have it's a velvet blazer. In fact I think she said invest in, if there's one thing to invest in - that is it. Tick tick.
The book is back to being the front and centre of my life - in fact my brain is reeling from the editing process. The elation of finishing the first draft has been replaced with the fright of taking that draft and making it better. It requires a particular kind of foolhardiness that I don't always possess so I am trying, not always successfully, to work. No one said it would be easy. If it was easy everyone else would do it. And so on.
Otherwise life is a string of repeated daily events, school run, house, dog, words, writing, thoughts, laundry, cooking, it goes down to the lowest denominator when the sky gets dark at 4.30pm each afternoon and we are thrown into night again. I find this time of year hard and wonder how it could ever have been light enough and warm enough to just head outside in the evenings.
It's our wedding anniversary this Sunday - which will be noted with rugby training for our son and cooking a family roast dinner (rock and roll). When we wed it was weather like this; crisp cold days and early darkness that allowed for a candlelit wedding. It makes me smile still to think of it.