Forsooth, it is Monday, and I’m back at my desk again. Did I miss much?
I was away for the last few days, visiting my parents, and we had a very busy weekend. The excitement kicked off on Friday night with ‘the party of the century’ (allegedly) – a surprise birthday party for my mother, which my father, brother and I have spent the last few months organising. I’m extremely happy to say that it all went off without a hitch, the guest of honour didn’t suspect anything until we all started yelling ‘surprise!’ at her, and a wonderful night was had by all. The surprise was increased by the fact that my mother’s birthday is not actually in October; it’s in March, but a combination of other family events at that time meant that we couldn’t have a party for her back then. I have to admit that the planning of this party was extremely stressful – because, of course, we all wanted it to work perfectly – but every second of the stress and worry was more than worth it. It was wonderful to give my mother such a beautiful and happy evening, surrounded by her family and friends. We had music, we had food aplenty, and we had cake (some of which was baked by me!) My mother is a wonderful woman, of whom I’m extremely proud and who I love very much, and it made me (and the rest of the family) extremely glad to see so many people make the effort to come out to help her celebrate on a freezing cold October night. So, thank you to everyone who helped us to make the night special.
The day after mam’s party, my husband and I called up to visit my parents, and for the first time in my life I wasn’t sure I wanted to look out our back windows, out over the grassy fields that stretch to the horizon behind my parents’ house. This is because those beautiful grassy fields, in which my brother and I and all our childhood friends spent all our days playing, are no more. My parents have been keeping me up to date on the changes over the last few weeks, describing for me how the land-moving machines rumbled in to rip the fields up, and trying to give me an idea of the scale of destruction, but until I saw it for myself, I couldn’t have imagined it. It drew tears, I’m not ashamed to admit it. When I was a child, these fields not only soothed the eye, but they were also a wonderland of playing opportunities – we climbed trees, slopped around in the mud, ran through the tall grass, swung out of the gates, and just rambled for hours ‘up hill and down dale’, aimlessly having fun as only children can.
It wasn’t only my brother and me who used to play there – my father did, and all his siblings did, and my grandfather before them. There was a feature of the landscape known locally as ‘The Bog Well’ which was marked on maps going back hundreds of years, familiar to all of us living in the area – now it’s been destroyed. It’s making me so angry to know that all these memories are now going to be entombed beneath a supermarket, and it makes me twice as angry to think my parents, who are used to living with the comfort of fields stretching out behind them, will now have to live with a huge loading bay right behind their house. But what can be done? Nothing. The fields were sold, permission to build was sought and granted, and that’s that. Progress trundles on.
My father, husband and I walked down to a neighbour’s garden to get a closer look at some of the deep excavation. The machines had cut down about fifteen feet – perhaps more – into the ground, making the garden where we were standing feel like it was teetering on the edge of a cliff. It was like looking down into the deep end of a gargantuan swimming pool. ‘You know how deep they’ve cut down?’ asked my husband. I, thinking he was talking in terms of feet and inches, said ‘no’. ‘About five thousand years,’ he replied, looking with disgust at the history that has been lost. That really struck pain into my heart.
The rest of the weekend was great, though – we got to spend time with my family, and that’s always good fun. Today is a Bank Holiday here, so we’ve got an extra day of relaxation before the world kicks in again. After the weekend we had, with the extremes of emotion we went through, we need the extra day, that’s for sure. I hope you’ve all had a good weekend and that you’re all happy, healthy and well. Happy Monday!