Yesterday we decided to take a trip down memory lane, and headed back to the North East for the day. Our original plan was to see some old friends and take in the Fenwick’s department store window (this year it commemorates 150 years since the birth of Beatrix Potter – as both the boy and girl are huge fans, we thought it would be churlish not to), maybe having some tea before we headed back home. As these things have a tendency to however, it soon became a bit more of a mission, there was a painting to pick up from Matt Forster’s gallery in Hexham (a TOTAL extravagance seeing as neither of us are working, but I completely fell in love with it), friends to drop off Christmas presents to, frozen fruits to buy from a farm shop on the way so we can make Port, old works to visit and friends to see. Unsurprisingly the day went on longer than planned and so tea in the toon was a necessity, before togging the littles ones into their jim-jams and then the long-ish drive home.
I was quite excited about going back and, weirdly, quite nervous too. Once back at old work I started to see lots of familiar faces; those people who I never actually knew but who I used to see regularly around the building. Straightaway I was struck by the fact that nothing had actually changed. I’m not sure what I thought would have, I wasn’t expecting them all to be wearing black due to my departure, or have little shrines to me on their desks (although it might have been a nice, if somewhat creepy, touch) but it was strange that it all just felt so normal, whilst at the same time so completely alien to me. It was lovely to catch up with friends I’d not seen for ages, and bring some mild disruption to the office (for old times’ sake), but it brought home to me just how much our lives have changed in such a short space of time.
We then headed into town to take in the Christmas lights and see the window. The lights were lovely, even if the kids seemed quite blasé about them, but the window was a real treat, with lots of the kids’ favourite characters (though I steered the girl away from the Foxy Gentleman, for fear of the Mr. Todd nightmares recurring).
We then headed to the shops to see if we got any inspiration for some of the remaining Christmas presents. We didn’t. Though the boy and I had a lovely tiff in the middle of John Lewis when the old argument, around daddy’s hand being the only one he could possibly hold, resurfaced. This led to much dragging the boy along, much punching of mummy and calling me “horrible” and “mean”, culminating in me giving up my Martyrdom, dumping the boy on daddy and going off in a sulk to pay for the only present we did get around to buying. The tea that followed was much too big and much too expensive and not in the slightest bit relaxing, all made even worse by my keen eye spotting both Aperol Spritz and Espresso Martini on the cocktail menu, only to remember we’d agreed to two weeks of sobriety in preparation for Christmas excesses.
Finally, after hastily getting the kids changed in a multi-story carpark, we headed home. It had been a long, tiring day and I couldn’t wait to get back to our life in the country. Going back made me realise that what’s really changed in the five months since we moved, is us.