New Name. New Study.

Spring has sprung, the bird has riz, at my new office, let’s have a squiz.*

*clearly the investment was worth it- that kind of creative genius doesn’t come cheap.

Plants and cabinet are Ikea. Excellent light up skull was from Lidl Halloween range. The plants on the Ikea wicker placemat are real and I have kept them alive since before Christmas. Brag.

Desk. Fake cheese plant. Real still-alive plant. Lamp. Chair. Spice racks. Boxes. All Ikea.

Left-hand print was a hashtag gift from my in-laws who bought it from Stratford-upon-Avon theatre. Right-hand painting is by my great grandpa and one of my most treasured possessions. Bullet journal by bullet journal if you’re thinking you need a new system to get organised with. Goal Digger mug by Coco Roses Apparel and hot chocolate is the Honeycomb flavour by Options and delicious.

Far left plant from Primark, right hand plant Ikea in a jug from Wymondham StarThrowers charity shop. Rainbow print by up and coming artist, William Oliver, botanical prints by the talented Brie Harrison. Paston Treasure print from Norwich castle shop. Drawers by Ikea. Squillion Lego pieces concealed in drawers by indulgent grandparents.

The Timeline of an Ill Child

5.30pm

Collect from nursery.

‘They’ve been a bit clingy today: needed lots of cuddles’

Right-o.

6.30pm

Rejects bedtime snack. Concern level flickers.

7pm

Child sweats during bedtime story. Child falls asleep huffing clammy metallic breath.

8pm

Nonchalantly ask about partner’s work day: ‘Got much on tomorrow? Busy?’

8.25pm

Pause Luther because you thought you heard footsteps upstairs. Is it a child…or a murderer?

8.26pm

Child. It’s a child. Sweating though their pyjamas and swaying on the top step.

8.27pm

Projectile vomit.

8.30pm

False hope: ‘it’s probably just because they’re tired- just an emotional vom. It’ll be fine’

8.32/8.36/8.41pm

Wretching in to the family sick bowl.

8.42pm

Calpol dispensing.

8.43pm

Calpol resurfacing.

8.50pm

Realisation dawns. Child cannot go to nursery tomorrow. Cue whispered hissings: I’ve got a full day tomorrow. Can’t you stay off? What about I do the morning then you come home at lunch?

8.55pm

Child lays sweatily on someone’s lap and Luther goes back on. No one is really watching. One of you is mentally recalculating their work day.

9.20pm

Ill child is asleep. Nominated parent carries child upstairs whilst other lays down towels,Calpol, glasses of water and plumps cushions and beggars off to the spare room.

Twenty five minute intervals throughout night

Wake. Sit bolt up right. Feel child’s forehead. Uncover hot child.

Wake. Sit bolt up right. Feel child’s cold limbs. Cover child.

Repeat.

6.10am

Child wakes sunny shiny and full of chat. Expect a debrief with any sibling or person present: ‘I be sick ALL night. I could see my raisins in it!’

Realise child is in rude good health but can’t in all good conscience send child to nursery…can you?…no…no, of course not.

7am-5pm

Watch CBeebies with ‘ill’ child whilst checking work emails and feeling guilty about not being there.

5.15pm

Sibling returns from school looking pasty. Feign sympathy and swallow a sick burp.

Fair play, respect and Bourbon biscuits to the parents doing sick days solo. May your immune systems be strong.

Under the Spell of St Paul’s Cathedral

It was William’s seventh birthday. He wanted a tour of St Paul’s Cathedral for his present. He’d learnt about it during a school project. He has the pop up book, the architecture dot to dot and the dates, names and details committed to memory. Farriner. Pepys. Wren. Parmesan cheese. Pudding Lane.

The morning was bright and fresh and clear and the seats at the top of the bus gave us a panoramic view of his favourite city.

We tipped out of the bus alongside the tourists and sightseers and as we rounded the corner St Paul’s rose in to view.

William’s face was luminous and solemn: like Christmas morning when he saw his stocking had been filled.

With his grandma and younger brother banished to the Museum or London, the rest of us regally climbed the steps up and in.

It is phenomenally beautiful. Breath-taking. Awe-inspiring. Vast. Everything you can imagine it to be.

It was still early and quiet so we went straight to the Whispering Gallery. Up and up the twisting staircase and out in to a great circle. We split up and sat at opposite sides and whispered sounds between us that rang like echoes in a seashell.

Higher and higher we climbed- electric with excitement. Up and up in single file – the adults following in the wake of William’s tense joy and out in to a storm of wind and sunshine on white stone.

And up again! Pushing through narrow staircases and trilling up spiral ones. Past cogs and cables and vast wooden beams as we slipped under the skin of the dome until we reached the top.

There’s Monument! Knock it down and it’ll land where the Great Fire started! There’s Tower Bridge! There’s the Cheese Grater and the Gherkin! And London Bridge where heads were displayed on spikes!Look! The whole vast city that you can adventure in or study in or eat delicious food in amidst your bright bright future.

And all of a sudden, the birthday blues hit. Right there at the top. A melancholy descended. That familiar rock in the stomach. Is it over? Is that it?

Did you know that the body of Christopher Wren is in the crypt here?

Down down down we flew!

We stopped in the cathedral alter and lay on our backs in the middle of a semi circle of tourist and worshippers. We lay on the cold brass and looked up to where we’d been- past the angels, the gilded cupids, through the whispers and up in to the shadow of the gold cross.

Then we went down to the crypt.

We saw Nelson’s monument, we bought and wrote a postcard. We drank delicious coffee. We marvelled at models of Old St Paul’s. We touched the toes of effigies blackened by the flames of 1666 which gave a thrill of history.

William was enthralled and keen to pay his admiration to Wren’s tomb only to find it was surrounded by a baptism so out of bounds for the morning- an oddly pleasing thought.

And then we had to go.

And the come down was swift and savage. Is that it? That was it? Is it over?

That feeling like the spell is broken and everything will be disappointing and average again.

But there was his granny Rose and grandpa Ben and the whole city of London to explore. And St Paul’s to watch over us.