The Eldest of the Darling Daughters and I are sitting outside Costa Coffee in Worthing town centre. The sun is shining and there is a saxophonist playing in the background. Soon my daughter will be on her way home, at
the end of what we have been calling her "mini holiday" with Mr B and me.
We have, indeed, shared many a table over the last few days. There was the lovely lunch in the Hare and Hounds at Sway where the E
of the DDs was sensible enough to order a healthy chilli salmon fillet on rocket with new potatoes, while My Stomach made the mistake of making me order chicken and ham pie. The pie crust alone almost covered the entire plate. Mr B had liver and bacon, in
case you need to know.
We liked the Hare and Hounds, which came highly recommended by our daughter's manager at work, because of its unusual horsey decor. Loo seats decorated with Pony Club style caricatures;
bar stools with legs made of intertwined horse-shoes - you can probably imagine the kind of thing. And, yes, the chicken and ham pie was as delicious as it was enormous.
We had dropped grand-daughter Eleanor
off at the start of her Duke of Edinburgh bronze qualifying expedition in the New Forest. We are very proud of her because she is joining a group of other youngsters none of whom she has met before. That takes courage, especially when, at just fifteen, you
will almost certainly be one of the youngest in the group. With her hair in French plaits (so that hopefully it won't need any attention over the following two days) she looked like a modern day Heidi and about twelve years old.
Before heading home we stopped at Lyndhurst where we visited the New Forest Museum and learnt lots of Interesting Facts We Didn't Know About New Forest Ponies. We were especially struck by the fascinating snippet of information that they have their
tails cut in different ways to signal which commoner owns them. No, I don't think any of them had their tails in French plaits.
Our next meal was scrambled eggs and chopped spring onions around our dining
room table that evening which was notable more for the chat than the menu. I always think conversations flow so much more easily over a meal, don't you? The bottle of wine may have helped too...
another Place to Visit - this time the very beautiful Parham House, with its delicious lunches served in a fascinating old kitchen; amazing Long Gallery with its high roof decorated with painted leaves; totally charming Wendy House; and colourful gardens -
including, you need to know this - a Wall of Sunflowers which apparently featured on Gardeners World recently. Sad to say, no TV producer has yet approached me to film my own Sunflower Wall which, despite the Slimy Slug Invasion, is still valiantly standing
tall. If somewhat sparse.
We were half-way through our tour of the house when my mobile phone rang - My Boy wanting to tell me that he had just built a fantastic sandcastle with the help of my sister, with
whom he and his family are spending the weekend. This building project, he explained, had made him think of me, hence the phone call. Unfortunately this rather sweet explanation cut no ice with an officious guide who descended on me like an avenging angel
to tell me to turn my phone off. I was extremely apologetic (I would not have been pleased with myself, had I not been myself, if you know what I mean ) though my apologies were not accepted - we slunk off into the next room, my red face, my daughter and I.
You will be pleased to hear that we recovered my equanimity over a shared Cream Tea, conveniently pushing to the backs of our minds that we would be heading out for a curry that evening.
Mr B and I always treat the older visiting grandchildren to a curry meal out when they come to stay so that was a "must" for a Darling Daughter's mini holiday. Just because you are grown up doesn't mean you can't be royally spoiled.
My dear Mum, like me, adored all her grandchildren - but she always reminded us that we children came first. She had carried us for nine months, given birth to us, looked after us when we were sick, celebrated our successes,
wept with us over our disappointments, let us go with love when we flew the nest, welcomed us back with open arms whenever we came to visit. I feel just the same.
Precious time with my first-born. Priceless.