|At my brother's wedding: with my deeply lovely sister in law :-)|
Slow start to the weekend heat wave.
The talk of it is more heated than the weather.
The view from my car includes a horizon of convincingly solid cloud.
My attention is drawn by the increase in traffic. When I look again at the mountainous cloud, it is invisible. But the Bristol air is hazy, thick full of heat.
I have clear sight of it from the tall windows of my brother's first floor flat: single glazed, it won't be so warm in the winter, he notes.
We walk over the open common grassland called The Downs. There's an irregular pattern of picnic groups. Pink-faced people rest on benches under young trees.
Talking of stereotypes, we walk into The Burger Joint, greeted by a chirpy waitress. Do we want to sit outside, she asks. There is a beautiful cool slate floor indoors. She laughs when we ask for shade, because everyone else is crammed around outside tables. She brings iced drinks, piled plates.
Stroll our filled bellies back to the rented flat with the old-fashioned sash windows, leisurely debunking myths.
Across the road is a statue of an animated dog, an estate agents display: pleasant houses with big prices. Quiet, for a city, my ears note: no tractors, no birdsong. Human voices sift up.
Later I dream that I am sleeping on a balcony.
In the morning I am first to be obviously awake. It's very small, this flat, uncluttered, seems somehow not quite lived in. It is waiting for my sister-in-law to arrive. Then some sense of real home arrives too.
The drive back is done daringly, without navigational aid. Windows open. Cold coffee. Only one wrong turn, and I can easily blame the heat for that.
Tired from driving, worn out from parking, step into the soothing presence of Granma Grace. Fresh back from hospital, she is tired too. We are allowed to make tea for her, she hardly even apologises for it. The littlest granddaughter lies on her lap, makes unladylike noises, stares at the reflections where the lines of glasses stand behind glass cabinet doors. Dog flops under the desk, hoping for sandwich spillage. I love the way my stepson holds his Granma's hand.
More hot driving. Converging now at my youngest stepdaughter's house, a family convoy. We bear gifts from Granma, all the things from the fridge that must be used up. The BBQ is lit. We are too hot for outside. Lie on sofa, share out shaded cuddles with Baby Girl, share the drama of the Wimbledon Men's Final. Summon the strength to eat too much. Little Grandson arrives, from the beach, only wears a towel, and his mum, in a flowy dress, sports the bump of the next grandchild. House shadow makes the garden bearable, we lie on grass and play with dogs and spiders. Little Grandson puts some shorts on, eventually. Three generations sprawl on a blanket. Talk about Andy Murray and how to pee at festivals. Talk about baby scans and lemon drizzle cake.
Time to go lingers even though we are ignoring it.
I would love a swim though.
Dog and me detour to the beach at Exmouth. We walk over the sand, into the water, I'm not dressed for swimming, it is not a problem. Dog swims free, I have the car key clipped to her lead. There are spare shorts in the car, in which I may drive back, but not until the sun has set.
Park clumsily. One job left. Wait for a text.
At 1.30am: 'Where are you?x'
Arrive at the school car park, say to Boy, 'Sorry, car is full of garden furniture and wet clothes.'
Boy shrugs. He pushes his suitcase into a gap.
He is smiling. I ask how the trip was anyway.
'India,' he says, and the pause tells me everything.