Denial is not conducive to holiday packing. As I write, two suitcases await me downstairs, almost packed, I’m so very nearly there but it’s now down to packing things like shoes and toiletries and for the first time ever, nappies and bottles and steriliser tablets. Oh and a play mat, of course. I don’t know why I’m procrastinating so much; we’re off to spend a week in France with good friends and their baby, it’s going to be so lovely. It’s just such a faff, packing. I know that when we get there, half the stuff will remain untouched, but because at this point I don’t know what stuff that will be, it’s all going in. Excitingly though the new suitcases are enormous, which is excellent for future games of hide and seek.
I think the problem is I am currently here in body but not in mind; yesterday Zee made his first acquaintance with London and it was perfect. His first train ride passed without so much as a squawk, he kept a dear friend and I entertained through lunch and then he slept through his first tube ride as I sat there grinning inanely. Grinning like a fool on the tube and I hadn’t even had a drink. When we emerged at Embankment station I felt like I had stepped back in time; only yesterday it was soaked in glorious sunshine and the last time I was there it was a dark, cold November evening and I couldn’t see for tears as I bade London goodbye.
Yesterday I was one of those irritating people that kept stopping every five seconds to look around me in awe – oh god, yesterday I was a tourist! The inane grinning continued as I walked that familiar route to the office, and then suddenly there was another of my dear friends there to meet us and everything felt just exactly as it should, and how it always has, only now it wasn’t just the two of us walking into work after an hour in the sun at lunchtime, people-watching and chatting and making plans for the week. Now I was bringing Zee into work to meet my friends and colleagues, it was exciting and a little bit nerve-wracking to be honest. I was hugely conscious of the open plan office setting, this is a place for work, where people are concentrating and busy, it is not a place for crying or screaming or heavens forbid, a certain small person’s exploding bottom. Luckily I needn’t have worried, because apart from the occasional bemused yelp, Zee was as good as gold and I was delighted to show him off I mean around. I am very proud of him and loved showing him the place where the children’s books magic happens.
And then it was time to say goodbye again, but only briefly; for Zee was heading home with H and then I was free to roam my beloved London until the clock struck 7 and the OXO tower beckoned, for the annual party in which every person who contributes to the aforementioned magic is celebrated in a sumptuous setting with free flowing wine, canapés and good cheer. These days I don’t really have time to myself, to sit and read the paper or drink a glass of bubbles and soak up the sun. To sit still and relax, without constantly thinking about feeding times or changing or washing or classes or naps or simply cuddling and giggling and playing. I wouldn’t change all that for anything, but sometimes it is nice to simply sit and be. The Royal Festival Hall balcony with the finest views in town was my setting for the bubbles and sun and it was heavenly.
And when party time came, I wandered along the South Bank in the evening sun, so many memories flooding back and adding to my delight at being there. Just before it was time to head in, I swapped flats for heels and tottered like Bambi, only less elegantly, up those steps and into the children’s books world I know so well. It passed too quickly, and suddenly my train carriage awaited, and I began the journey to Victoria, back to my other life; my husband, my baby, my world.
Now all this reminiscing is fine and dandy but the packing won’t do itself. H can’t do it, it would be like the Krypton factor for him. So I must focus and think about what we need for Zee’s next big adventure. But one thing is guaranteed. There will be no bikinis for me. That is something I must well and truly say goodbye to, and in the grand scheme of things, I couldn’t give a hoot. But I do have a fabulous pair of red polka dot wedges; holiday shoes for sipping holiday cocktails in the sun. And with that in mind, let the packing commence.