Releasing the pause button

I had two and a half weeks off between the shifts, and we went down to South West France to stay with family. We were looked after, loved, fed and plied with wine.


I felt a very long way from the home, especially when Graham and I were hiking in the forests and river gorges.

We're back in London and back at work now; and as wonderful and soul-restoring as a summer holiday is, it's also lovely to be back home. I am realising that my days off have acquired a routine and a rhythm too over the past few months. I enjoy routine, but our holiday has left me restless and I am now craving an injection of something new. So I've started a list of adventures – large and small – to be done on days off.

Let's see where they take me.



Summer days

I have always loved the school summer holidays. I feel as though the children belong to me again, and it's a pleasure to see them unwind, please themselves and chill out. Now that I'm working full-time (for the first time since Cam was born, nearly sixteen years ago), I wasn't sure how we'd get on – but it's turning out to be absolutely fine.

My shifts mean that I am still around for half the week, and the children only have a couple of days at a time by themselves while both Graham and I are at work. They are nearly sixteen and nearly thirteen, and are perfectly able to look after and amuse themselves without any input from us. I finished a run of nightshifts this morning, took them out to breakfast, and caught up on their news over cappuccinos and egg McMuffins. Cam has dyed his hair bright red, and had eaten his way through pretty much an entire loaf of bread in two days by scoffing endless toasted cheese sandwiches. Olivia has been working her way steadily through the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook and managed to vaguely tidy her room.

After breakfast we went to buy hen food, and then they put it away while I had a quick shower and crawled into bed. When I resurfaced at about 3pm, I found that Olivia had made more cupcakes and Cam was out with friends. I lay on the sofa with a massive cup of tea and one of the cupcakes and wondered what to cook for supper. Olivia and I watched Pitch Perfect (she is obsessed and I had never seen it before), and flicked through some magazines. It turns out that my level of tiredness after nightshifts matches perfectly with their own well-earned levels of summer idleness.

It's all good. It always is.