Nick and I are delighted by the kind messages coming in -- thanks, everyone.
To the Anonymous who wanted the whole Nick story, post-by-post, I do mean to sit down and do it at some point: you're not the only one who has asked.
To Rashmi about My Family and Other Animals: Buy it, buy it, buy it! It's a wonderful account of an eccentric family's extended stay on a Greek island. Gerald Durrell's style and joyful eye for detail are a huge influence on me (The New Noah was one of the first 'grown-up' mostly-words books I ever read). You can read the beginning of My Family here.
1. A Christmas present from my cousins comes wrapped in a thick piece of gold ribbon spotted with jewelly red, green and purple. Later, Ellie and Daniel laugh like loons as we play peek-a-boo along its length -- it's just wide enough to hide our eyes.
2. Ellie has been solemn and silent up until now, turning away from eye contact. 'She likes to be ignored at first,' says Cat. But just before we leave for lunch, I find Ellie standing in the hall in front of her blue boots. She lets me help her on with them, and we step outside together to scrunch in the gravel up the drive.
3. Daniel, packed into an all-in-one padded puddle suit, sets off on a private expedition, lurching, almost over-balancing as he hurries towards the road. I pick him up and turn him round to face a safer direction, and he spins away -- a determined blue wandering star.