Daffodils, Daughters and 2013 365 Challenge #35

Early daffodils

Early daffodils

Today started at 5.30am. Again. It seems my daughter’s internal clock has gone forward for Spring a few weeks early. I wouldn’t mind but she has taken to making sure we’re all awake by coming in to Mummy and Daddy and saying she needs help on the toilet (she doesn’t), then going in to Aaron because he’s crying (he isn’t) and thereby waking the dog who sleeps next to the baby monitor downstairs. It’s tricky because she also gets herself dressed, makes her bed and opens her curtains. Great behaviour, just not at 5.30am. And then we spend the rest of the day grumpy. She’s sobbing upstairs at the moment because we’ve had a row. She’s only four. I’m so looking forward to her teenage years.

My daughter isn’t the only one who thinks it’s Spring. I was walking the dog today and saw these daffodils. We’ve had a week of really warm weather (10C) and even though it’s back to 3 or 4C they clearly think it’s time to get up too. It’s nice to see them, it brings all the wonderful hope of Spring. I just hope it isn’t false hope – it’s only February, I’m sure there’s plenty more bad weather to come.

Claire’s novel-in-instalments has reached 30,000 words. I read some of it as I proof-read Two-Hundred Steps Home and I was pleasantly surprised that it reads quite well for a first draft. I don’t think it will ever be anything else, not least because – at this rate – it will be a 300,000 word novel by the end of the year. Who is going to want to buy that?! Still, amidst the chaos and turmoil of home at the moment, it feels good to have achieved what I have so far.


“Hey Claire, great singing last night, how’s the hangover?”

Claire dropped her head on her hands and groaned, refusing to respond to the man who had stopped on his way past their breakfast table. He chuckled and walked on. Claire was about to raise her head when she heard more footsteps and another voice.

“Alright Josh, Claire, nice guitar playing mate. Good session. You guys off to do the wall today? Weather looks smashing.”

The voice receded and the room went quiet. Lifting her head slowly Claire peered out under one arm. “Have they all gone? Is it safe to come out?”

Josh laughed sympathetically. “Yes they’re gone, though you have no reason to hide. You were awesome.”

Claire moaned softly. “Not you too. What did I do exactly? It all goes hazy after the guy with the guitar and the bottle of whisky arrived.”

“You drank quite a lot of the whisky, mostly from the bottle, then you started dancing. Simon played accompaniment and when you kept falling over the furniture you decided to sing instead. You’ve got a nice voice you know, although the words were a bit slurred.”

“And you played guitar? I don’t remember that.”

Josh shrugged. “Well you were mostly asleep on Steve’s shoulder at that point.”

“Oh God, who is Steve?” Claire covered her face with her palms and peeked at Josh through splayed fingers.

“The guy who just said g’day to you.”

Claire dropped her head again. “Tell me nothing happened.”

“Nothing happened,” Josh said, a bit too quickly.

Claire looked up. “Now say it like it’s true.”

“Well I can’t swear to that. I was making Lucy’s acquaintance.”

“Which one was she?”

“The red head with the stray curls.”

Claire shook her head. This wasn’t going to be blog material. The sooner the night was forgotten the better.

“So are we walking the wall today or are you ticking this box as done and moving on?” Josh’s tone was neutral as he finished the last of his breakfast.

Claire considered the opportunity to escape and leave Josh and their jamming session behind. She looked out the window. Blue skies and scudding clouds beckoned her out to blow away the hangover.

“What wall?”

“Hadrian’s Wall.”


“Oh come on, I’m not even from this country and I’ve heard of Hadrian’s Wall.”

“Who the hell is Hadrian, why’s he important?”

“Ah well there you have me. But I read a leaflet that says there’s an 8-mile walk from here that goes via a museum. Maybe we can go learn together.”

“Why would I want to learn about it from a museum when I can Google it?”

“That’s just data. Someone else’s view. You can’t live life vicariously, you have to stomp in it and get your boots muddy. Think of it as Blog Fodder. No one’s going to read your blog if you move on from every place as soon as you arrive.”

“I don’t care if anyone reads it. The fewer people the better.”

“You don’t mean that or you wouldn’t have had me read it in the car in the dark.” Claire flushed but Josh didn’t notice. He was waving his spoon around to emphasise the points he was making. “Besides I thought this was your job? Likes and follows are paying your wages. You strike me as a hard-working chick. Put some effort in!”

“What are you, some kind of motivational guru?” Josh turned at her words and gave Claire a strange look, almost a glare. Then he laughed. The sound struck Claire as forced and false.

“That’s me, Mr Get-up-and-go. Now get your sweet arse into some hiking gear and meet me at reception before it starts raining.” He pushed away from the table and stood up.

“Where are you going?” Claire realised she sounded like a wife and blushed. “Never mind. I’ll see you soon. Do we need to take lunch?”

“I’ll find out, I just have something to do first.” Josh raised his hand in a half-wave and disappeared in the direction of the internet access without looking back.


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